Look! A Squirrel!
I recently started reading the book You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and…wow. Just wow. When I read I’m an underliner or page marker (English Lit major, remember?). I dog ear the pages I want to come back to and read them over and over and I’m telling you now, if you haven’t read this book – you must. The one quote I keep coming back to is the following:
When I read this I thought ‘THIS is anxiety in a nutshell!’ At least the mental part of it for me. As I write this I’m sitting on my in-laws gorgeous back patio in Florida next to a pool glowing turquoise blue in the night and listening to one of my favorite sounds – crickets chirping – in the background. The temperature is a perfect 77 degrees and we had a great day taking our son to the zoo and later watching him get to really experience the pool and water for the first time with the joy that only children seem to be able to express. And guess what, my anxiety is kicking into hyperdrive. I want to ask my brain why. Why now?
But that is the nature of anxiety. It pops up at times I can expect it to, like a few days before I travel, going to the airport, FLYING. Then there are the days it comes out of nowhere. Like right now. I stare at my iPad or phone so no one can tell my insides feel like they are trying to crawl out of my body and my hands are shaking ever so slightly. Tonight I’m hiding the discomfort and craziness in my brain.
I hate to admit it but I’m embarrassed of my anxiety sometimes. I know this blog is supposed to be about not being ashamed, and trying to live with and ride out the anxiety – but sometimes it just gets so tiring. I’m tired tonight of not being able to enjoy an evening after a great day. I’m honest to a fault, and that is what you can expect when I write too – I share the good and bad because no one’s life is perfect and people rarely let down their guards to be vulnerable and share something as personal as an anxiety attack. I would love nothing more than to curl up in a ball right now and focus on my breathing, but sometimes I have to power through. I’m afraid people won’t understand or will think I’m weak. So I sit here, consumed by worry and anxiety about all the ‘what ifs’ and trying not to appear rude because I just can’t participate in the conversation.
So back to the quote. It struck a chord in me when I read it. How much of my life do I waste letting those squirrelly thoughts race through my mind? And why can’t I stop them sometimes? I’m halfway through the book, and this is how many pages I want to go back through and underline passages from:
Like I said, if you haven’t read this – you should. My husband can always tell when I have bad anxiety. I wring my hands or rub them together or move my feet, usually rubbing them on the couch, carpet, anything to feel like I am grounding myself and I bite my nails down as far as I can. If you want to know how I’ve been doing with my anxiety, all you need to do is check out my hands. I feel like I need one of those calming coat/sweaters they put on high strung dogs during fireworks or thunderstorms. I know it’s impossible but my body feels like it will fly off the earth into nothingness if I don’t do these things. And that makes me feel crazy and scared. But the truth is, I’m not crazy. No one who suffers with anxiety is crazy. But sometimes we think we are.
I’m going to quote Jen one more time, because this quote also smacked me right upside the head when I read it:
At the root of anxiety is fear and when I read this quote I think about how absurd it is to worry. What is going to happen will happen. My brain knows this, but my anxiety disorder does not. It’s that constant battle between what we know and what we think that drives us crazy. How amazing would it be to just let go. To let the worry and anxiety cross my mind and then float right through. I want to live a joy filled life, not only for myself but to be a light to those around me. Because who knows how long each of us has on this earth? My challenge to myself this next week is to practice mindfulness. I’m determined to find a way to overcome anxiety attacks without xanax. I want to experience life with all of the joy that my son does. Because how amazing would it be to feel like THIS the majority of the time:
This is the face that I will focus on when my brain gets squirrelly on me. Pure joy.