I was woken up this morning by a stomach ache. So accordingly, I started to panic.
That’s what anxiety does to you. Well, to me.
It wakes you up and forces you to pay attention to intangible things that most people pay no attention to.
By intangible I mean that anxiety doesn’t truly exist. You can’t touch it. You can’t see it. It survives solely because we allow it to. We perpetuate it. Our thoughts create our anxiety. Our anxiety creates more anxiety.
But wait, how is that possible? My anxiety is first and foremost triggered by physical sensations. Tangible sensations. My heart racing. A stomach ache. Unexplainable jaw pain. Oh health anxiety; fun times. But my anxiety is rooted in the physical sensation occurring first, followed by the anxiety and/or panic. Isn’t the physical sensation, by definition, tangible? So perhaps we are talking more so about the tangibility of the intangible.
I have always been someone who feels, I mean really feels, everything. I am conscious of the saliva in my mouth, of food entering my stomach. I can feel the food moving around in my intestines. I can feel gas preparing for its decent down my colon. I can feel a virus before it rears its ugly head. I can feel my blood pressure going up and down. I know when there is a burp being formed in my chest. I can feel when my heart beats fast or skips a beat. I know when Tylenol starts to work because I can smell it (super bizarre!). I know exactly when I ovulate. I am in tune with my body and it is a curse.
I wish I was more like my husband who has literally had chest pain for two years and doesn’t think much of it. The doctor gave it a name (some chronic muscular issue) and he accepted it and moved on. Every single day he has chest pain and he does not care in the least. I have a girlfriend who cannot find her pulse. She has no idea where it is and never feels her heart beating. She is oblivious to everything going on in her body. She just doesn’t care. And if a physical ailment or sensation does bother her, she just starts taking oodles of different medications to make the feeling disappear.
I want that. That feeling of nonchalance. The disregard of physical sensations. I want to be a non-alarmist. I desperately want to be a non-alarmist.
But, that’s not me. At least, not right now. It used to be me up until November. Now, I have this whole new me to get to know (and frankly, I do not like her! I want the old me back!).
I am an alarmist who is currently being reigned by an intangible enemy; my anxiety.
Right now, my brain and my body are on high alert. Monitoring and scanning every single sensation in my body. And when they find something, anything, they sound the alarm.
Danger! Danger! Danger! Sound the alarm. Imminent danger!
The logical side of me responds: Where?
The illogical, anxiety demon screams: Everywhere! You better start to panic!
So I do. Because I don’t have the mental strength to fight this demon off, to tell him to calm down and wait a minute. I listen to him, even though he is wrong. I know he is wrong but I can’t do anything about it. It’s like watching a train wreck…in slow motion…over and over and over again.
All triggered by hormones and stress. At least, that’s what I believe.
So where do I go from here?
Well, I started this blog yesterday and it was cathartic. Not entirely, but there is definitely benefit to writing down your thoughts. It allows you to think about them not just as intangible bubbles floating around inside your head, but as concrete evidence of your experience and your emotions. It serves as an architectural blueprint detailing where we started and where we are hoping to end up. I am at the beginning stages. The foundation. And as unstable as the foundation is right now, I am going to fill in the cracks to stabilize it. One crack at a time.
At the same time, I will figure out how to take down this anxiety demon. He needs to fall from his reign and free me from his grips.
The only person who can make that happen is me.
I have the power to turn off the anxiety. To stop the perpetuation of alarmist thinking.
I am the solution.
© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.