Anxiety is not stress. You can't just let it go. You can't meditate it away or run to clear you head (in fact, I get anxiety attacks when I go running alone, which is why I hate running). I have stress also, but with stress comes rational solutions. I make plans for my plans. I'm sure part of that actually has to do with my coping with my anxiety. I need to have backups to backups so that the anxiety doesn't set in. I look at that and see that as a good coping mechanism. Some people see that as over planning and over thinking, some people see it as smart and overly organized. The thing with anxiety is that a lot of the time it goes from something completely rational to worry about, to completely irrational in a matter of seconds. Anxiety produces over the top fears that spark from something little and, sometimes, not at all even related to what sparked it.
Let me explain. The other day there was a county water truck sitting outside of our house. Here's exactly how the spiral happened. The water truck outside means that they will be doing water line repair. If they do water line repair, they may be digging up our yard. We just had our yard redone 2 summers ago and finally have grass. It's going to be a mess again. They are going to redo the whole street. That means tons of work trucks. That means they are going to start around 7 am every day. That means there is going to be a lot of noise. That means my kids won't be able to sleep in. That means they will be up way too early during the summer. That means they won't get enough sleep. That means they will have to go to bed early to balance that out. That means we won't be able to do fun things. That means we're going to all be crabby. That means this is going to be the worst summer ever. I might as well give up. The summer is going to suck. All that from a water truck. And it took my brain about 2 seconds to go through all that. I tried explaining this all to Husband. He understood, to a point. But he tried to rationalize it. The most it's going to be is a week or so on our part of the street, yada, yada, yada. Awesome, but my brain already spiraled out of control and there's really no going back. I tried to relax and think it won't be that bad. I can totally lie to other people and even myself. I can say, I'm not worried. It will be fine. No big deal. Yet, I'm freaking out and sad that my summer is ruined before it even starts. I explained this exact same situation to a friend with anxiety and she got it. She didn't try to tell me I'm being irrational or that it would all be OK. She just got it. Even though she doesn't have this exact issue in her life, she knows enough about her own anxiety to know that it really doesn't matter what other people say because, until the situation is over, the anxiety doesn't go away. I will have the fear of a ruined summer until the work is completed on our water lines. Will I go on every day and try to make the best of the days? Yes. You push through.
Not all anxiety situations are that easy to push through though. Sometimes, anxiety can cause OCD behaviors. To some people, these seem like routines, but it's so much more than that. There are things that I need to do and if they are not followed, the full on anxiety attack kicks in. For me, my anxiety attacks trigger my asthma. I can't breathe, literally. I feel as though something is closing around my windpipe. I've been dealing with anxiety since college. I've actually probably been dealing with it longer than that, but I was first "diagnosed" with it in college. I came home and went to the doctor because I couldn't breathe for the better part of 2 weeks. The doctor put me on anti-anxiety medication. I was on it for about a year, but it didn't help much. Over the years, I have learned to have better control over my anxiety and I learned techniques to cope with and cover it. Until I started to be more open about anxiety, people had no idea.
I believe that others think that people with anxiety live a life where they are are always worried. That's not exactly true. There are many, many things I am not worried about. I am often very calm. I believe that society has drawn a picture of people who suffer from anxiety to be "Nervous Nellies" That's not true. In fact, it's usually more of the opposite. Most people with real anxiety are experts at hiding it.
Anxiety is no picnic. Having children while dealing with anxiety is rough. I want to teach my kids good skills for coping with stress and worry as to not have it turn into anxiety. Yes, I know that anxiety is actually triggered by chemicals in the brain and some people are just going to get it, but I think that good coping mechanisms for stress is a good start for controlling anxiety. When you suffer from anxiety though, it's difficult to try to teach coping skills because you are so concerned that you have passed on the anxiety gene to your child and they are bound to suffer the same anxious fate.
Every day is struggle, for everyone, not just people with anxiety. We are all trying to get through life the best we can. In no way would I ever say that my struggles are worse than someone else's. Mine are just different. It's just a reminder to give others grace. You don't know what's going on in their lives, or their heads. I may look completely calm on the outside, but you don't know if I'm spiraling out of control on the inside. And most likely, I won't share with you if I am. The best thing anyone can do for others is to be kind.....and please, stop telling me not to worry.