You know how anxious people are…. anxious? But when you ask us what we’re anxious about, sometimes we don’t even know?
I made a list for that.
A lot of the time, I can pinpoint specific causes of my anxiety. I get anxious about asking my boss for time off. I get anxious about making phone calls. The past few months with my wife’s surgeries? Ball of anxiety.
For those types of things, it’s easy to rationalize them. I can use my coping skills. I can pinpoint why those things are making me anxious, focus on that, and minimize that anxiety. And then once that event is over, the anxiety is usually gone.
Then there are other days (and those days are worse in my opinion) where you have no idea what you’re anxious about, you just ARE.
It’s like your mind is playing danger music so you’re shuffling through your brain trying to figure out where that danger is coming from. It’s not a concrete thought but an anxious feeling you can’t quite put your finger on.
These are my anxious feelings.
Feeling like everything is going to fall apart. Feeling like I’ve done something wrong. Feeling like there must be something wrong with me. Feeling like I’m not really good at my job/school. Feeling like I can never relax. Feeling like I can never catch up. Feeling like if I pause anxiety will catch up to me. Feeling like I can’t turn my thoughts off. Feeling like I fail at being an adult. Feeling like something awful is coming. Feeling like I’m forgetting something important. Feeling like everything I say/do is wrong. Feeling like everyone is bothered by me. Feeling like there’s too much to worry about. Feeling like all of it is too much.
That’s a lot, right? And most of it subconscious but when I *really* start thinking about where my anxiety is coming from, one of those feelings is usually the culprit. They’re what’s at the foundation of my anxiety. Someone lifts up the rock that is my brain and all of these things come scurrying out of the darkness on their creepy-crawly legs.
I might not know how to put it into words or why I’m feeling that way. These anxious feelings don’t need a cause because that’s what an anxiety disorder does – it makes us feel danger when there isn’t any.
Here’s what works for me: I used to feel like this 24/7. As I’ve learned coping skills, focused on self-care, managed my stress, and paid attention to my feelings – things have gotten way better. I usually have one or two days a month now where I feel anxious for no reason and the rest of my anxiety has normal, every day, causes.
DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy) has been the thing that helps the most. There are so many different exercises that there’s something that’s going to make me feel better. You can check out my workbook “Breathe” to find a lot of those coping skills!