Monday, August 19, 2013

fear, face & fury of #anxiety

What do you think of when the word ‘anxious’ or ‘anxiety’ comes to mind? Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I hate feeling anxious when I’m running late” or “Geez, it makes me so anxious when my child climbs to the top of the monkey bars.’

Some of us think of that word all the time. Well, maybe not the word itself, but the meaning and experience behind the word. We live with it. Sometimes regularly and more often every single minute of a day.

In the past, I’ve shared with you my health challenges with fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s syndrome and multiple myeloma. You probably know that I suffer from chronic pain, which can lead to exhaustion and I’ve suffered from “attacks.” These attacks involve the pain rolling throughout my body with an intensity that keeps me prone – sometimes for days on end. These attacks involve:

  • Pounding headaches, slicing migraines
  • Throbbing and dry eyes
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • And, even, rocking under the misguided notion the repetition will make me feel better.

 

Through it all I normally smile…

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Although I would rather hide… (one with the camera is my favorite selfie)

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<--- A little makeup brightens up things a bit…
With every picture I can tell by my eyes how I really feel.

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I have not, however, shared much about the mental state these unwelcome visitors cause. I believe I’ve eluded to the depression, which lingers in the background, through creative writings. An illusion I began maintaining when I learned people who ask how you’re doing and don’t really want to know, they give societal polite responses and move on with their lives and there are those (one or two) who began blathering that posts should not be “down.” Some so bold as to say ‘don’t write about this, it’s not happy.’ And even more where others (a handful) gave the woo-woo, standard, intangible and very often unhelpful comments. No offense. Recommendations cloaked as advice in a nature that I interpret as “you’re so dumb just pray.”

Or “everything will be okay.”

I love: “think positively.”

That one makes me wonder if they would say that to a person having a heart attack or any other serious condition that requires professional medical attention and medication.

I digress. Sorry.

My anxiety began when I was in the military. Some time between 1988 and 1992. I was diagnosed, treated for migraine headaches and prescribed to “see someone.” I really liked that guy: Captain Too Cute to Be a Psych, but before long he was shipped out. One office visit later and I never returned.

840 After a liver biopsy: DSCF4281
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  Sometimes being silly helps.
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I went years without treatment and I dealt with it okay. I was eventually transferred out of the super high stressful and demanding position with a Napoleon-complex-ed Captain that started it all. Later, when I returned to college I survived stress-induced scratching that caused welts and me unknowingly scratching off half a mole in my sleep. I had forgotten about the anxiety, but it had not forgotten about me.

I survived the removal of my gangrened gall bladder and dealt with the multiple myeloma diagnosis on my own. I didn’t think much about the sudden crying, moments of darkness or panic attacks. I was just trying to survive. Survive having a toddler while taking 18 credits a semester and working… you know, survive living.

As I aged and dealt with increased stress, the bulk of which came in early 21st century, I hid the anxiety that overtook me. Funny what you’ll do to keep something from someone who is only supportive of something they agree with.

Now here I am – more than 20 years after the initial diagnosis – and what was once a little gnat flying around the room is frequently like a buzzard circling a kill.

  • My heart races all day
  • My breathing is shallow
  • My chest is tight
  • My skin tingles
  • My body is either chilled or burning up
  • My head hurts and hurts and hurts
  • My eyes burn and brim with tears
  • My hands shake
  • And, on the best of days, sudden torrential crying isn’t unheard of.

What’s the cause? There are some things I’d like to share, but I’m still concerned about this appearance that is expected. An imperfect perfection others are looking for. Their desire to only hear of the beauty and good: what my granddaughter is up to, how my youngsters are doing at school or the beauty of the sky, flowers, trees, plants and bushes I notice every single day.

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I mean, I still wanna have friends so I mostly do what’s expected of me. I sure would like to have a man…. (sudden chuckling at the direction “have a man” could take)… What if he’s in my virtual world and comes by here, checks into Twitter or randomly browses Facebook and sees my perfect imperfections?

  • Will I still have friends?
  • Potential suitors?
  • Respect?
  • Sponsors? Advertisers?

What should we do? You know: those suffering from anxiety and depression? Let’s just review the solutions I don’t want to hear:

  • Stretch/yoga
  • Pray/meditate
  • Exercise/walk/run
  • Go to church
  • Talk to someone
  • Don’t worry
  • Think positively

There ya have it. A little known fact about me and even some solutions for you. Should you need them. In the meantime, my brain is still whirring with attempts at solutions to the problems that are increasing my anxiety.