From the Blog

Does This Happen To You?

In the past couple of years, I have transitioned from being primarily in a state of stress to, oddly, NOT being in a state of stress. It was not a sudden transition, but moving from constant anxiety to relatively low anxiety occurred more rapidly than I thought possible.

While I’ve always thought I was an “anxious personality,” it’s hard to know what occurs naturally, what is situational, and what is from conditioning. For the longest time, stress was my “natural” state. I just lived with a super high baseline anxiety level. It didn’t seem like “stress” to me, it was just my day-to-day life. If I didn’t have something to fret over, I’d find something. And if I couldn’t find something, I’d create something. I was only vaguely aware of this phenomena, and didn’t ever feel like it was something I had control over. I just thought drama and nutjobs threw themselves at me. What fun!

I’m willing to admit my “anxious personality” contributed to a lot of my stress, but I also know it wasn’t ALL in my head. I was once broke, had a shitty job, had at least one or two crazy roommates, and I had a fire breathing bitchbag of a boss who wanted to destroy me. We’ve all been through that, right? Despite these all being so-called “external” influences, they were an obsessive distraction. It’s hard not wanting to outdo yourself, sharing stories of high drama and indignation, even when they occur with such frequency you risk becoming a petty bore. But who can turn down a good story when someone starts with “Listen to what bitchbag said today..!”

It’s hard to break out of it when it becomes a pattern for so long. Anxiety can be so ever-present that it’s unsettling when it seems to disappear. It’s like having a safety blanket taken away. What the hell? Who’s running this show? What’s my personality like if I’m not friggin anxious? There’s a hole. A hole in my personality.

Not to say I don’t enjoy the new found calmness that has appeared in my life. It feels more adult. I’m as busy as I have ever been, but not caught up in dramatics. And I can see anxiety bubbling up from a mile off. And I can sometimes even discern if I am stressed from just the mechanics of my day-to-day life, or if the feelings are from chemicals in the brain. For me, day-to-day anxiety is from feeling overwhelmed and overburdened. Lack of serotonin feels entirely different. Chemical anxiety feels sickly, unfocused, and white hot. Dread. Both are familiar to me.

Since my modus operandi has shifted from high to worry to not so high worry, I’ve been able to treat anxiety as an obnoxious friend. I’d rather not have this friend around, but since it comes and goes, I’ll make fun of it. I can see what makes it tick, I can pick apart the pieces and I can trivialize it with my objectivity. And I can write blog posts about it.

I’ve lately had a bit more to cope with in my smooth running operations, planning a few different wedding events, for multiple weddings, along with all the other various things going on this summer. Happy items, but many balls to keep in the air. At the same time, my job, which normally doesn’t stress me out, has gotten considerably busier, and I have also taken on some new tasks that are taking up a lot of my time. Oh, and there was a new accounting system implementation, so all the stuff I am comfortable with is all brand new now too. It’s a veritable shit storm.

This current bout of stress is manifesting in bizarre ways I have never noticed before. I have had incidences in the past where loud noises freaked me out. I thought that only happened in cartoons. And I always get cold little shivers, wallowing in a potential dread, like a tire blowout on the freeway. Or in a memory, like how I hit a small bird driving home from camping Sunday. I am trying to forget the fluttering image in the rearview mirror. I’m sorry, little bird.

It seems recently like I’m more delicate and sensitive to everything. Loud noises, sudden movements, gross smells, my fiance eating bugs. In particular, I had to skip full chapters of some of our new camp cookbooks. We got camp cookbooks to learn how best to use out new dutch oven. Mostly, they’ve been very helpful. But some of these cookbooks have recipes for hunters, including animals I would never considered eating. Further, there are recipes for PARTS of animals I would never consider eating, like tongues and testicles. I didn’t even have morbid curiosity to inspect those recipes, like I usually would. I had to skip over them before I gagged. I couldn’t even look at them.

So that’s my new stress indicator. Gag reflex. It’s a new one.

No, I’m not pregnant.

Comments

  1. Meredith says

    I feel better w/o as much “IN YOUR FACE” every day anxiety, but still feel broken. I do feel like anxiety has (maybe had) changed me and how I operate but would like to think those 8 years were temporary.

  2. I was thinking that perhaps some of your new, better coping skills appeared about the same time as you implemented your new diet and exercise regime. Have you fallen off that wagon a bit? People tend to when things get a bit hectic in their lives. That’s exactly the time when you really, really need to keep fit unfortunately. Well, I hope this phase passes quickly so you can go back to serenity.

  3. I know exactly how you feel. Ive become so unstressed being out here, i have no debts or worries, and I even joined a yoga studio and got deep in to that. Because ive been much calmer ive noticed myself slowly taking on more situations that would prompt stess…but good stress. I went from money and other menial stressors to asking my work if i could be more involved to bring a little bit of ‘progressive’ stress into my life. I dont think we can easily allow ourselves to live a stress free life because without it we wouldnt challenge ourselves, so id say youve just moved into progressive stress. That and probably a touch of stir crazy.

  4. HA HA!! as I was reading the cookbook part, i was thinking “uh-oh, bet you’re preggo” in that sing-song voice… so the last line was super funny.
    i have a client up here who hunts vigorously. she says she is going to bring me elk steak when they murder one in idaho this season. how do I say i think your hunting this magnificent creature for sport is heinous and i don’t want an elk steak?
    i can identify with your weird anxiety-less hole. i too feel it. since the house got saved, i have been remarkably anxiety free. every once in a while, as I contemplate something, i will feel that 15-story drop in my tummy, but for the most part, it has been smooth sailing. it is outstanding. glad you are experiencing it too.

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