“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia
Anxiety has posed a problem for me for a long time. I have felt anxiety for a lot longer than I have depression, but it has not always been to the point of rendering me useless. I used to be able to use it to my advantage, now it interferes with my life.
After I got married in 2003, my husband and I packed up my stuff and we moved to the military base he was at in California. We are both from Texas, our families are in Texas, so this was a big move for me. I had not lived on my own until that point, so things were changing. I knew a couple of his friends out here, but I did not have any of my own. I wanted new friends, but I have always had a hard time making them. I am kind of shy around people I do not know, and sometimes that comes off as being snobby.
After living there for a little while, I found myself avoiding places that would require me to be social. Husband would ask me to go to his friends homes, and meet their wives and hang out. I would agree, and then as time moved closer to us heading over, I would start to panic. I felt anxious, and thought about things like whether or not they would like me, what if I came off as a dork, etc. Silly things really, but I seem to care about what others think. These feelings would get to the point of me crying about not wanting to go, which sounds like a tantrum a child would have, but it wasn’t like that. I would sometimes pick a fight with my husband so I could have an excuse for not going. It was overwhelming, and always ended in me not going, and staying home alone because I had convinced him to just go without me. As time went on, I stopped getting so anxious about social situations, at least enough for me to be capable of going without freaking out. I still get nervous and feel the anxiety, but it’s not overwhelming anymore. I still cling to husband’s side in new situations, but I think having a buffer is better than just not being there.
At two different points in our time here, I had volunteered to be a “Key Volunteer,” or a KV. These were spouses who volunteered to relay information passed down from the command about the goings on with our husband’s while deployed or training. I often wonder why I agreed to this, seeing as how I have had a record of social anxiety. As a KV, I was required to call the other wives within my husband’s company, and pass along information. This was almost impossible, as I get anxiety when I have to talk on the phone. I get hot and sweaty, uncomfortable, and my body hurts. I would make the calls as fast as I could, and would have to sometimes take a shower after because of the sweat. My body would hurt, and I would be so exhausted that I wouldn’t do much of anything for the rest of the day. I eventually quit the KV thing. It was too much for me to handle. Even today, I avoid talking on the phone as much as possible. I am not sure why I have such problems in social situations. Maybe it’s a fear of rejection, or a fear of embarrassment. I am not really sure why, but it’s not the only anxiety I have experienced.
Since kiddo was born, I have wanted to go back to school. It’s really important to me to finish and get my degree, but I have had an incredibly hard time knowing what I want to do, and committing to something. I sign up for something, and then as time gets closer to starting, the anxiety kicks in. I start thinking of all the negatives that could happen, and then I start feeling pain, and then a feeling of no control. Am I doing the right thing? Am I studying the right thing? What if I fail, or what if I pass but just barely? It gets so bad that I just end up dropping out, which makes the feelings go away. I have signed up to study medical billing and coding, sonography, psychology, social psychology, and now geography. I know I am smart, I have always done well in school. In high school I was in the top 10% of my class, a Texas Scholar, and in the Honor Society. I know I can accomplish my goals, I just can’t get past the anxiety barrier. This past spring I was enrolled to study Social Psychology. I dropped because of my anxiety. I got overwhelmed before it even started, and came up with several excuses for wanting to drop. Now I am enrolled at the same university, but now I am studying Geography.
I just had an epiphany. It’s weird how that happens when I am writing a blog entry, as it’s not the first time. I have just realized why I switched my major to geography, and why I am not the least bit scared or worried about it. I love geography, always have. However, I have always found it easy to study. Maybe it’s because of my enjoyment in it, or maybe it’s because it’s just an easier subject. Either way, I have no anxiety about it. Maybe the reason I dropped Social Psych, even though I wanted to help people with depression, was because I felt so strongly about wanting to help people, I had a fear of failure and not being able to be awesome at something I really wanted to do. Or maybe I just really like geography, and know I can be awesome at it, and the reason it’s easy for me is because I enjoy it so much. Now I am confused.
Anxiety hurts, much like depression. Anxiety can also go along with depression, which can make the pain hurt more. It’s hard to deal with, and it’s definitely something I need to mention at my next doctor’s appointment.
If you feel anxiety, how do you deal with it?