Feelings and anxiety... it's for the birds

Anxiety.  Enough said, right?  A quick Google search will yield enough results to produce an anxiety attack.  So what is anxiety exactly?

For most, and in acute cases, anxiety is feelings of worry, uneasiness, and uncertainty.  However, in extreme cases, it can lead to excessive uneasiness and panic attacks.  For more information from the National Institute of Mental Health, click me.

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Recently, I moved to Chicago from Louisiana.  To be exact, at the time of writing this post I have lived in Chicago for one month and two days.  Within this time period, I sold most of my earthly possessions in a house sale (in Louisiana), moved across the country, lived with a friend for two weeks while searching for jobs, searched for an apartment, found an apartment, moved into said apartment, started a new job, sold my car, been on countless horrible dates (One of which  included a guy that "lived and worked with people who are experiencing homelessness."---AKA: he was homeless), and joined a gym.   Throughout this process I tried to stay mindful and positive, as this was something I chose.

I was not always successful at enjoying the process.  I had moments of doubt, self-pity, and at times, hatred.  However, I never once thought I made a mistake in my decision to move.  I am a firm believer of creating destiny.  In the past, friends  have expressed how "things come easily to me."  I always smile and say, "All it takes is work," which it does.  Perhaps this post will give some insight of how much work it actually takes.

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Growing up I never thought of my father as a "deep thinker," which shows just how ignorant I was.  When I was about ten years old, I vividly remember riding with my dad in his truck, with the windows down and the wind blowing.  He said, "People are always moving aren't they. Always on the go."   For some reason his simple observation attached to my thoughts and hijacked the rest of our car ride.  Much to my surprise, his words were embedded so deeply that I am still thinking about it today.  People do move, all of the time, and I am no different.

How do they (people) do it?  Simple, they just do.  So what am I getting at you may ask?  How does this relate to mental health?  Well, the emotional part does.  People can cope with the administrative part of moving, because that is life... Packing, changing your insurance, selling your car, going to IKEA, apartment searching, to name a few. But what happens when your emotions catch up with your reality?    

Anxiety.  Anxiety happens.

FEELINGS:

About a week ago I started having acute anxiety.  I mainly felt anxious before bed, which negatively effected my sleep, which I so dearly need and love.  In fact, before I leave my bed every morning I usually say, "I'll be back tonight, don't you worry."  It makes me feel like someone, or something, is waiting for me throughout the day other than my dog, Opie.  So, to develop a poor relationship with one of my closes supports is disheartening.

Two nights of shitty sleep only increased my symptoms.  I started feeling my heart race at work for no apparent reason, and felt unexplained nervousness throughout the day.  I was in my office, alone, with calming music playing, deep breathing, and still felt like I could start crying.  I wanted a boyfriend to hold me, or my mom to make it better, neither of which were options.  The next best thing was Google chat.

Thankfully, Samantha, a dear friend, fellow social worker, and therapist, was able to chat with me.  I explained my situation, and here is what she advised:

Find the feeling associated with the anxiety. From her experience as a therapist and self-aware person, anger is a common feeling that people feel when they have anxiety.

Once the feeling is identified (e.g., anger, sadness, loneliness, etc.), process and accept it--it may reduce symptoms.

Finally, do something... Exercise, run, journal, talk to a friend on g-chat, etc.

Her wise words forced me to examine myself.  Was I feeling angry?  For some reason this feeling scared me, but I eventually decided loneliness was the culprit.  I missed my family, I missed my former possessions, I missed my world.  Identifying that I felt lonely, made me feel sad for the life that I so easily transitioned from, and in some ways dismissed.  Through the process of acceptance, I was able to feel happiness and proud for the risks I have taken.  This "linking" of my emotions helped me feel more at ease.

Accepting your feelings, even uncomfortable or ugly ones, helps you take ownership.

INTERVENTION (What I did to combat my anxiety)

Admittedly, I have been struggling with anxiety for many years.  I strongly suggest consulting with your PCP or a mental health professional if you are experiencing anxiety, as it can surely be debilitating.  After doing that, try this:

1. Identify feelings

2.  Process feelings

3.  Accept feelings

4.  Sleep well, eat well, and workout.

5. Take your medications

In efforts to avoid a third night of restless sleep, I decided to take a Xanax before going to bed... Nailed it.  You can do all these things, and still need your medicine. Believe me, I think America is over medicated.  But for those of you have ever experienced anxiety, you know the complications...  If you have medicine, freaking take it. Period.  Don't be lazy, though.  Put in the work and figure out what feeling may be the root of your anxiety. Because, all it takes is work! ;)

In closing, if you move through the administrative part of life without addressing your emotions or feelings, know that they will eventually present themselves. In my case, it was anxiety.  My emotions, or my feelings of loneliness or even sadness, needed to escape like air bubbles in a fish tank.  Be cognizant of your feelings, and you may have less anxiety!

 

Questions:

1. Has accepting and not judging yourself of your feelings helped you in the past?

2. What ways have you combated anxiety.

 

This is for the gays:

 

Best,

g.

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: anxiety, Chicago, Feelings, Moving, NIMH

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    Garrett Shotwell

    I am a 28-year-old Chicagoan transplant from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I like running, good books, and being inappropriate. I am an observer of life, consumer of information, and advocate for the disadvantaged and misrepresented. I strive to live simply, impact greatly, and love fully.

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