An Anxious Life

Anxiety sucks.

I can’t remember when I started to feel anxious. I don’t really remember dealing with it until after law school. After I graduated, I had big goals and I thought that I could only accomplish them by perfecting the craft. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. My best was never good enough. Only perfect was acceptable. This pressure may have led to the uneasy nervousness I now associate with anxiety. 

Anxiety manifests in many ways for me. Early on, it caused me to lose sleep. My brain raced for hours on all the things I had to accomplish the next day or all the ways I could have done something better that day. I ruminated on the emails I sent, the demand letters I drafted, and the meetings I had with clients and my superiors. It was all consuming at night and I constantly feared I could have done something better. At night time, I lost control of my thoughts and regularly spiraled into the negative and worst-case scenarios.

A few years into my practice, I started having panic attacks at night. I would not be able to fall asleep and instead my heart would race, I couldn’t breathe, and I had this desire to lay on the cold, hard floor. I would cry out of fear and self-doubt. The attacks would be worse when there were storms and lightning. I had an irrational fear that my house would catch fire. Sometimes, I just decided to stay awake. Other times, I took medicine to fall asleep. 

Most recently, I have found that when I have a lot going on in my life, my anxiety presents in social settings. I get uncomfortable being around others. Putting on a face when I’m in knots is hard. I usually push through for an hour or two and then just go home. Sometimes, home is the only place I feel safe. The only place I can work through my feelings on my own. 

A lot of things make my anxiety worse. Alcohol is number one. I can almost guarantee a panic attack if I have more than a drink or two. Caffeine doesn’t help either. But lack of communication with friends and family members is also a contributing factor. Anxiety comes to me when I feel alone and isolated in this crazy world.

Over the years, I have found things that help. I have a great therapist who repeatedly assures me that I am not alone. That my struggle is a common one. I started a night-time routine to slow down the racing brain. I drink sleepy-time tea, I read fiction, and I take cbd. When I have a bad night, or a really good one, I journal about it. I try to find links between certain activities. I identified the matters that caused me the most stress at work and distanced myself from them. I started working with a coach who has helped me overcome my perfectionist mindset and the unnecessary pressure I put on myself. 

The most important thing, though, is the words I say when I am feeling my worst. I tell myself I am safe. That my best is good enough. That I am not alone. That it will pass. 

I think I will always have some level of anxiety but now, I use it as motivation to build the life I want. The one where I am fulfilled and calm and distanced from the people and activities that cause unmanageable stress. I want you to know that if you struggle with a racing brain, unexplained panic, or self doubt, you are not alone. Anxiety may be a small part of me but I am also confident, kind, loyal, independent, and genuinely want the best for people and this world. Just like there is more to my story, there is more to yours.