Anxiety Makes me Anxious

I have been feeling really unsettled lately and I don’t know why. I’m jumpy, yet exhausted. I’m lonely but want to remain secluded. I’m eager to read but nothing holds my attention. I want to take a walk and enjoy the sunshine but I also want to sit in front of the computer for hours reading really depressing things, like the Sarah Palin bio pic.

I’ve been walking circles around my mind, trying to pinpoint what triggered this latest bout of disquietude but I can’t seem to put my finger on it. I guess this is the “generalized” part of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder that my doctor is always telling me about.

“Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)” says the national institute of mental health, is:

“an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry.”

Oh my God! It’s like they know me! I am completely irrational.

“This excessive worry often interferes with daily functioning, as individuals suffering GAD typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friend problems, relationship problems or work difficulties.”

And here I thought the institute ‘got me,’ but I have way more worries than that! I can worry about health issues, money, death, family problems, friend problems, relationship problems and work problems in my sleep. I’m a pro.

The thing that worries me the most though, the thing that really leaves me tossing and turning, is this anxiety disorder itself. If it is indeed generalized, unrelated to any emotion or event in particular, then how is it ever going to go away? How can I not worry that at any moment it is going to cling to me like my too-tight pair of skinny jeans?

I see a doctor once a week where we pluck a thought of mine and dissect it ad nauseam. Her theory is that if I understand my thoughts and how they’ve been hardwired in my life, then I can change them. I know that change is a process, and  that I can’t undo thirty year patterns over night, but sometimes I find myself feeling agitated with the steps. Like so many people, my childhood was blanketed with some sad parts.  But that stage is over now. I don’t want to talk about it. I’ve pulled back the covers already, haven’t I? I’ve already changed the sheets! Discussing another bad memory I look in my doctor’s eyes and all I want is to throw myself at her feet.

“Fix me!” I want to scream, “fix me! Wave that weird rain stick of yours over my head and fix me!”

It’s the same feeling I had when I buried my tear-stricken face into my mother’s calm shoulder while having a panic attack.

“Please mom, you created me. Can’t you remove this part and make me again? Make me better?”

It’s the same imploration I give the universe in my weakest moments: “Make me whole. Make me different.”

I realize that anxiety cannot be excised like a tumor and neither Father Merrin or Father Karras can perform an exorcism to get it out. I just wish it was so, with all my heart. I remind myself that while I can’t obliterate my anxiety like a space invader alien, I can keep doing my best to manage it. I can keep embracing the neurotic parts of me that contribute to my creativity and sensitivity in a unique way. I can still poke fun at it.

There is a single thought, I think, that is the most powerful anxiety antidote, stronger than any pills, treatment or psychotherapy. Hope. I can’t lose my hope. The hope that one day I will wake up, with my stomach unknotted, anticipating the very best, ready to jump to the best possible conclusion.

I hope it’s tomorrow.


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Hilarious cartoon courtesy of the talented Natalie Dee: