Anxiety: Living With Myself and a White Elephant
I have generally always been a morning person.
I'm not one to fight about getting out of bed, and I've often been teased for my ability to shift my attention from one thing to another almost instantly. It's as though I've turned a light off in one room in my brain and flipped on another, and waking up for me is almost like that. There's no real struggle to turn on the brain and get everything going in my head, and I've generally been grateful for that.
As I've gotten older, I find that a routine has helped. In my case, I get up, take my anti-anxiety meds and my vitamins, let the dog out while the kettle's going, get my breakfast organized, and then sit down for more or less two hours to play Angry Birds, do a crossword and write. During this time, I also pound back two cups of coffee, and that is what gets my day started. I have two kids, 12 and almost 8 (seems odd to say that), so this is pretty much the only "quiet time" I get - but then, what's not quiet between 4:30 and 6:30 in the morning? If I'm lucky, I sleep til 5, but lately, that seems a rarity.
It's a relatively calm, quiet time, punctuated by the various sounds of my family sleeping upstairs, cars driving by outside my door, and my pounding on a keyboard.
It's also a time where I feel a knot forming low in my gut, like I've eaten something that's not exactly sat well with me. It feels as though my hands are tingling, and my chest starts to get a bit tight.
There's the anxiety that we all live with daily - anxiety about tests, job interviews, and so forth are very common and that's part of the stress that keeps us going from one day to the next. If there was no stress whatsoever in our lives, we'd be liquid, with no motivation to get our butts out of bed and get things done. It doesn't matter if this is positive stress, like your kids giving you a hug or being turned on by something your partner said or did, or negative stress, where you're worried about something happening or not.
For those of us with anxiety, that vague sense of worry is always there. We get really good at distracting ourselves with life in general, but for many, it can be there simply because it can. Today, for instance, there's nothing I'm particularly concerned with; my kids are happy and healthy, I love my job, and I have gotten regular exercise started again after nearly four weeks of not doing too much on that front as a result of the pre-Christmas rushing around.
Yet here I am, writing away while my brain is trying to convince the rest of my body that everything's fine and there's no immediate danger.
It's not a crippling sense of anxiety that I'm currently feeling, but more that vague sense of something's coming and it's not necessarily good, like my body's trying to figure out what there is to be concerned with. I'm also lucky - there's only been a very few times where I've actually had to deal with panic attacks, which are horrible.
But I'd almost prefer dealing with a full blown panic attack once in a very long while - just to get this anxiety out of my system, like a release valve - to having this. I'm not a big fan of panic attacks, but feeling this many of my mornings is not great either. I've tried exercising in the mornings, but I find it throws off my schedule, and that upsets anyone who's used to a schedule, never mind just people with anxiety.
So I stick to my current routine, breathing and trying to stay focussed on whatever the task is at hand. It's sort of like climbing a rope; if I stay focussed on the next thing and then the next thing to do, I can concentrate on the moment, rather than the what if.