discovery #1

that i have (finally) learned how to identify my anxiety and ways to begin to reduce it.
TRUE STORY: i am living in chicago. on my friends' futon. i have just gotten laid off from my dream job. and am working as a temp. i am almost $10,000 in debt and using my credit card to get cash. around this time i start thinking that the "activity-induced" asthma i was diagnosed with as a highschool swimmer is coming back. i'm having trouble breathing all the time, can't get enough oxygen, it's terrible. i tell everyone i have "breathing problems" and move on.

fast forward 5 or so years and i finally realize that what i was beginning to worry was an undetected heart condition was actually anxiety. the financial and career struggles, which were the hallmark of my quarterlife crisis, were causing me to have panic attacks--heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, it was so obvious.

but...it took another few years to figure out how to identify it when it was happening and take steps to reduce it. last week i was driving home from work. i'd had a rough day, david was still out of town, and luckily my sister wanted to hang-out so we weren't both alone that night. i was so excited just to get out of work and get to her apt.

SCENE: hundreds of cars in the 100' Houston heat, moving nowhere fast, and it started...heart rate, deep breathing, bad thoughts about the jackass who must have been drunk and crashed and caused this horrific mess.

then...instead of feeding into it, i just stopped. stopped thinking terrible thoughts, stopped clenching my jaw, stopped looking at the clock. i relaxed my muscles. i put on a CD i knew would make me smile. and once i began to feel less anxious, i realized that the AC had actually started working, it hadn't actually been an hour, and traffic was actually moving.

oh, and there was a really beautiful blue summer sky just waiting for me to enjoy. so i'm still learning. i'm a social worker and i talk all day to people about
reducing stress.
easing anxiety.
but it doesn't mean i'm really good at it. i'm just glad i've finally gotten over that asthma.

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely a goal for me to master too! My life isn't too stressful and anxiety filled right now... but in the next few weeks I know it's going to increase. I am trying out meditation and yoga to see if I can control my stress and anxiety a little more. I also turn to music often too.