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Challenge: WHO Are You?

Not Letting My Anxiety Define Me

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I’ve always found it difficult to speak to other people about my anxiety. I worry about being judged. A lot of people don’t get it. They don’t understand what anxiety is. When they hear the word, they think of being nervous about standing up and speak in front of a crowd. What they don’t understand is that anxiety is about far more than that.

An anxiety attack descends on me

This thing that has become a part of the fabric of my life, starts with a roaring sound in my ears. My heart speeds up and starts pounding. I assume that everyone around me must be able to hear it, but they assure me they can’t.

I feel hot and cold at the same time. A bead of sweat forms on my forehead, and I wipe it with the back of my hand. My palms are wet. By now, I’m struggling to breathe normally.

By now, all the tips and tools I’ve learned in therapy have flown out the window. All I can do is remain focused on getting through the anxiety. My breathing becomes ragged, and tears form in the corners of my eyes. I’m trying to gain control of my mind and body. Finally, it passes. I’m back to ‘normal’ but I’m exhausted.

This is my life

It doesn’t take much to make me feel anxious. Explaining what it feels like doesn’t make it easier for other people to understand. For such a significant anxiety spell, they would assume that something massive must happen to trigger it. That’s simply not true.

I experience an instant sensation of anxiety when my doorbell rings. Is it the police coming to tell me that there’s been a terrible accident? I become anxious when I’m away from my children. We live in a dangerous world. Will they be okay? The other day, I got incredibly anxious about the future. On television, they were discussing the Brexit impact on the pound. My heart skipped a few beats.

No one knows what to expect. Will all our efforts to be financially responsible be wiped out when the stock market inevitably crashes? For most people, this is a passing thought. For me, it was enough to make me spend an hour fretting about it. I kept scanning the internet, looking for information that would reassure me that everything would work out in the end.

Living with anxiety

I’ve spent years feeling this way. I prefer not to take medication for anxiety instead preferring to utilize therapy to help. There are days when I believe I’m making real progress, but there are also days that are so bad that my anxiety cripples me.

My biggest worry as a mother is that my children will learn my anxiety behaviors from me. I fear my husband may tire of always having to reassure me. These thoughts make me anxious about being anxious.

What does the future hold?

Well, no one knows the answer to that. It’s in accepting that life is a series of unknowns over which I have no control that I have had an epiphany.

I must do two things. First, I must accept myself for who I am, which is a person who experiences anxiety about some pretty strange things. Second, I must make the conscious decision to refuse to let this one facet of me define the whole of me.

I am so much more than this perceived weakness. My value as a wife, mother, and person is not wrapped up in whether I get anxious about the future. My value lies in how I deal with it.

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