Sunday, December 6, 2015

Managing Anxiety is Different Everyday

A little time on the mat will often 
help me manage my symptoms.
I have anxiety of some level virtually every day of my life. It can be low-level anxiety, such as slight nervousness when I can't get out of the house immediately to get something I don't want to do over and done with. It can be severe anxiety that is hard to kick, such as panic attacks. I get anxiety on every part of the spectrum of severity. On days like today, it's moderate from the time I wake up, which leaves me with a few options for how to deal with it.

When I have low-level anxiety, I am always good without a fast acting anxiety medication. I take a deep breath, put on my big girl undies and get on with my life. When I have severe anxiety that threatens to make me puke or pass out, I go with medication that takes the edge off just enough that I can control the symptoms with mindfulness, positive thinking, distractions or whatever else is working that day. It's the days that I have middling anxiety that tend to be difficult. Sometimes, I can get through them without help and be as proud as a peacock and sometimes, I have to give in and resort to meds, which makes me feel like a failure. (You shouldn't feel that way if you resort to meds. I have clearly faulty thoughts and feelings.)

I woke up with moderate anxiety this morning and decided that getting up and kicking some ass around the house would be helpful. I cleaned our bedroom, took a shower and even ate breakfast, which is rough when I'm panicky. Once I had my chores squared away, I sat down with my husband while he played on the Xbox and I made a huge mistake. I thought this day of moderate anxiety would be a good time to look at the hospital bills from just one of my three most recent stays.

Even though we have a somewhat affordable deductible, are intelligent enough to negotiate prices and have a decent income, I panicked. While my husband calmly told me it's not even the step in the process where we start paying people, I was imagining us huddled together in a homeless shelter, as if we would both suddenly lose our ability to work. I imagined being hospitalized frequently and racking up insane bills, even though I know we have a maximum of out-of-pocket expenses per year. I was caught up in some seriously unrealistic and often vague thought processes. I'd given myself a panic attack. Crap.

I went upstairs and managed to keep the anxiety at bay for a little longer while I organized our home office and upstairs hallway. I tried to do a bit of yoga when I finally decided these methods weren't working for me today. I didn't want to rely on my medication, but it was going to be a no good, very bad day if I didn't. So, I took my medication (sadly, most days have been like this for the past month) and now, the lady who was going to be homeless, helpless and destitute a few hours ago is sitting on her couch working.

It sucks to have to rely on medication some days to feel well enough to eat and work. I know that feeling. I live that feeling, but if you are out there beating yourself up about it, I hope you stop. As people with anxiety, we are extremely hard on ourselves, not to mention the stigma that adds to that weight. We don't need to bully ourselves over using the help that is available to us when we need it. These are the things that help us lead fulfilling lives. Yes, use your relaxation techniques and whatever else helps you when it is effective, but know your limits and respect them.