I have anxiety, but I'm learning how to successfully move through the tornado with (a bit more) grace, by shifting my thoughts and actions elsewhere.
It’s been an internal shit storm kind of week. Not a catastrophic storm, by any means, but I’d say a category one, debris flinging, inconvenient tornado. A baby tornado, if you will.
Seeing as I was flying so high, predicted the down fall, and then…well…fell, I’m a little bummed out about this current tropical depression. I thought maybe the high would last forever this time...and it didn’t. That’s ok, because as always, I’m convinced to find a silver lining within the thunder clouds.
I realize that finding the joy when chaos looms is not an easy thing to do. When I feel down, everything is down. It’s like the baseline for joy loses altitude due to the tectonic plate shift within my head. The amount of altitude that is lost is based on the severity of the anxiety.
In this case, last week’s anxiety attack built up slowly until it spilled out all over my dining room table during dinner. Thankfully, I was quick to talk about it (very quick…like a million words per minute quick), and resolve it before the spiral took hold.
That was a week ago and I have been pretty jumpy ever since. I’ve also found myself taking things waaaaaaay too personally. I’ve had my feelings hurt by basically everyone I know over the past seven days.
This period of time after an anxiety attack, even a little one like this one, is like a hangover.
This period of time after an anxiety attack, even a little one like this one, is like a hangover. I’m exhausted, a bit depressed, shaky, and I want nothing but to lie on the sofa, watch Netflix, and eat copious amounts of crappy food until the wreckage is cleaned up.
I do not have that luxury right now. I have a million things to do, both for my work and personal life, including volunteering at two upcoming surfer girl retreats. I have been looking forward to these events for months, and in order to make them happen, I have to get ahead on my to do list.
So, I’ve decided to concentrate on work and physical activity. I went to my weekly Yoga class and I’ve been getting up each morning and going for a three mile walk while the air is still brisk out. I’m also mantra-ing myself to death on these walks: “You are strong! You are killing it at work! You will succeed!”.
Normally, my first instinct would be to go surfing, but it wasn’t this time. Instead, my first instinct was to get shit done. I think that my head felt so cluttered with the wreckage, that I needed to do a bit of cleaning.
The past two months have been pretty dang surfcentric, anyway, so I decided to stayed home and went from task to task, annihilating the internal trash, and organizing the projectile brain debris back into its filing cabinets. I’m pretty much caught up on all the office work that had fallen behind and, YES LAWD, it feels good!
I also finished the commission that was sitting on my easel. I visited my woodworking friend, and got holes drilled for the next batch of Love Clubs, thus lining up my next creative move after the commission is finished and shipped off. (Stay tuned for more on a new Love Club series!)
Half way through the week, I realized that my mind set was improving. A week-and-a-half later, I’m nearly all the way healed, but still feeling a bit irritable and I'm still taking things personally. *deep sigh. I’m getting there.
In the midst of all of this, I'm proud to say that I’ve stayed pretty dang calm. When I’ve needed to voice the things that were annoying me to my family, I’ve done so in a reasonable and humbling way. Also, my emotional state isn't as volatile as it has been in the past, after an attack.
I took action, and stayed active.
I think the reason why is because I didn’t wallow in the anxiety puddle. I didn’t “woe as me” myself to death, and allow the depression part of the hang over to take hold. Instead, I took action, and stayed active.
I made improvements and progress within my work life, beginning with creating a daily to do list each morning, which directs me and helps me keep focus and momentum. Sometimes I think half the anxiety battle is getting past those moments when I just want to surrender to the void.
But the thing is, there is nothing in the void…that’s why it’s called the void. It’s like eating empty calories. It might taste good while you’re doing it, but if you do it for too long and too often, you’re going to have some health issues and a hell of a tummy ache.
We all go through these moments of overwhelm. For me, the key is to not let the overwhelm grow and take over. I managed to avoid that by keeping momentum. By concentrating on actions that further something I care about, I didn’t head into panic central.
In fact, the opposite happened. I actually started feeling accomplished and like I was doing exactly was I was supposed to, instead of running around like a headless chicken. Maybe I’m tired of bumping into walls. Maybe I’m just getting better with practice.
Whatever the case may be, it worked, simply because I GOT TO WORK. I have a number of completed projects to show for it, and I’m caught up so I can go to my surfer girl retreats without anything hanging over my head.
In the comments below, I’d love you to tell me one action that you could take the next time anxiety attempts to blow your house down, to keep you moving in the right direction instead of letting anxiety derail you. May the force be with you.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.