I have high levels of anxiety and I know I do. Only the people who really know me can see it. Others see it too, but they see is as a positive aesthetic appearance. My anxiety is functional though, I don’t burst into tears when I feel my chest begin to tighten, and I don’t close myself off as I feel the weight of the world barreling down upon me. My grief, my rolling boil of sadness, and my unforgiving anxiety have helped form me into who I am today.
But no matter what, when the birthday of my dead husband nears it never gets any fucking easier.
So as I hit the pavement to complete a 12-mile run, in between counting cars and other runners I passed by at 5:30 am, I started thinking about how my anxiety has manifested in a way that is not in plain view.
1.) Endurance Training
Since George died of cancer, I started using exercise as an outlet for my grief. There’s something about it though. Exercise helps strengthen the neurons to connect with the synapses to allow the neurotransmitters to travel more efficiently. The flow of dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin is better. So exercise can create happiness. What I’m after is the breaking point. That moment of bliss shattered by the surge of discomfort in my limbs. My thoughts screaming “stop, stop, stop,” but one more step is all I need.
2.) Research and Analysis
I like to learn. In the past 4 months, I have taught myself biomechanics, physiology, basic HTML, and pretty much the ins & outs of the digestive system in regards to thermogenesis. Currently, I’m reading every morning Forbes articles to learn about Stocks, Bonds, and ETFs. The new information is like an opiate for my fluttering thoughts and anxiety. Though, I’m 100% a millennial because any article over 2,000 words I simply do not have time for that. There are other articles with more cogent information about fall out between Walgreen and Rite Aid.
3.) Meal Prepping
I love variety, but for some reason when I feel bogged down from stress and the anxiety creeps back in I begin to meal prep. This is something many nutritionists and fitness experts preach about, so it’s not dismissive that I do meal prep, but I do so because I need the control. The need to control food has been a reoccurring sign I’m dealing with loads of anxiety, stress, and feeling misguided and out of control.
4.) Seeking social engagements
This has been a common anxiety relief for me since high school. Being mixed around in a crowd makes me feel uncomfortable. But the discomfort is like endurance training, it’s a mental challenge. When I’m home by myself, I know I need to get out of the house or I’ll become agoraphobic, so instead when the invitations come to do something, I’ll go. Unless the travel and uncertainty heavily weigh out the positives. Recently I was invited to a road trip to Dallas, I had to turn that one down.
5.) Forming mental list of projects
I really was considering naming this ‘taking on too many projects at once’, but as I started describing it, I learned that it’s not the projects, it’s the list making which is the life force of anxiety. Whether some believe this to be exemplary time managements or not, when those lists begin to formulate its anxiety.
Wake up at 4:45a, pre-workout ritual, leave the house at 5:30a, back by 7:30a at latest, take dogs for a walk, roll out, vacuum, mop, shower, write diet pill article, eat, write another diet pill article, go outside with dogs, etc. My days begin to be mapped out.
6.) Writing & New Ideas
I’ve learned at a young age, many artists are a result of tortured souls. The anxiety weaves its self so deep along my bones, and in-between the cartilage, tendons and ligaments, and when it reveals itself it comes out black and white. These words on the page, the creative torment of new ideas and storylines, the anxiety is my coal to the engine.
When George was alive, I aspired to run marathons and half marathons but didn’t have the discipline to train. My writing lacked emotion and connection, but when he died the fear of losing my memories with him strangled me like a python. He is my muse. Every word I write, every mile I run, he’s the one behind each painful push to go forward.