Everybody has anxiety, but there are those who experience anxiety for prolonged periods of time and every day. Unfortunately, I fall into that category.
For the most part, my anxiety is controlled through medication and relaxation techniques. Mostly medication, though. Therapy also helps.
Some days I’m completely fine, but others are marred by anxiety and panic. When I start to experience anxiety, it starts small, like with a feeling that I forgot something or that something bad is going to happen. Then comes the obsessive thoughts, “What am I forgetting? What if a loved one is mad at me? Why did I say that stupid thing yesterday?” I might start to catastrophize or have intrusive thoughts that I’m going to die or my loved ones are going to die. My heart races and pounds. There are butterflies in my chest. If I can’t quell these thoughts, I have a panic attack where it’s hard to breathe. Thankfully, I haven’t had a panic attack in awhile, but the obsessive and intrusive thoughts are still there and can be difficult to manage. The thoughts are constant and almost every day.
I know anxiety affects people differently; this is only my experience, but I wanted to share a list of what gives me anxiety on a daily basis. Also, I wanted to point out that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the U.S., affecting up to 40 million people. That’s huge.
OK, here’s my list:
- Loud noises — It doesn’t matter what it is — my kids being loud, a pan being dropped, the TV volume — loud noises always put me on edge. So do repetitive noises. My anxiety not only manifests with obsessive thinking and physical symptoms, but also it makes me very irritable. I start to raise my voice when I shouldn’t or I snap at my husband or the kids. Sometimes I feel the urge to chunk something against the wall.
- I’m out of routine — I thrive in routine. Nothing makes me happier than doing the same thing everyday and doing it the same way. It helps prevent my anxiety, because I know exactly what’s coming up and what I need to do. Of course, it’s not very realistic to do the same thing the same way every single day. There are always kinks, and I deal with those but they usually put me on edge.
- Stress — This is kind of a no-brainer, but if something stressful is going on (like moving to a new house or the holidays ), I start to get irritable and panic.
- Interrupted or not enough sleep — I’m one of those people who just needs nine to 10 hours of sleep a night. Of course, I don’t get that, but it feels like I’m running on empty if I’m operating on fewer than seven hours. When I’m interrupted (which I often am), my anxiety flares up because then I start to think about not getting back to sleep or not getting enough sleep.
- Too much caffeine — I’m really bad about drinking too many Diet Cokes, as I often do when I don’t get enough sleep (Eli is on a 5 a.m. wake up call these days). I chug and chug until I feel some energy, but then my anxiety goes into overdrive.
- Conflict — I do not like conflict. I guess most people don’t, but I stress out so badly if I have to confront someone or if there’s any discord. The obsessive thoughts start to cycle and my thoughts race. Thoughts like, “Maybe I should say this? I wonder if they don’t like me now. Am I being mean?” I’ll play conversations over and over in my head, and the stress just mounts up.
- Not enough alone time — I need alone time. When I have quality alone time, I feel recharged. During this sacred time, I don’t want anyone touching me, because I’m touched out usually by the kids. I don’t even let the cats on me during alone time. I do things that I enjoy, whether it’s take a hot shower or bath, watch TV, read, etc. When I don’t get alone time, I get so short-fused. See a theme?
- Uncertainty — I’m sure this is a trigger for many, many people. Because I thrive on routine and structure, I’m not good with uncertainty. Take the pandemic, for example. When we were doing the quarantine at home, I was so stressed. I worried about the kids falling behind in school, our financial situation, whether we were going to get sick, when I was ever going to be alone again, among many other things. I know I’m not alone in this. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our collective mental health, but thankfully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines becoming available.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the most common triggers I have. I hope that if you have a loved one who suffers with an anxiety disorder, you have a little more insight with this blog. Please treat anyone who has an anxiety disorder with respect and never downplay their symptoms and feelings.
If you have anxiety, I recommend getting a weighted blanket. When I’m starting to panic, I get my blanket and put most of the weight on my chest. It instantly makes me feel a bit better and I feel safe. I prefer this to meditating or breathing exercises.
Any questions? Drop them in the comments.
Stay in the light, my friends.