This is a repost of a post (with a few changes) that I first published on Jan. 13, 2012. It seems particularly appropriate to revisit this week. It’s a busy week of newsgathering, and next week promises to be even busier because three of my six co-workers, including my boss, will be on vacation. I’m feeling a lot like I did almost 17 months ago when I first wrote this.
|Where I work.|
Right now I’ve got a headache hanging around the edges, every now and then letting me know it’s still there. I just ate a late supper, but it didn’t help the nausea. I feel scatterbrained and a bit hyped, but I’m very tired.
This is my body on anxiety.
Today was a classic example of how anxiety changes my body and how I feel. I have had many days like this, but now I am particularly aware that it’s the anxiety that’s making me feel like this.
I was simultaneously looking forward to and dreading today. I knew a big story that I had been covering for over two years was going to reach a conclusion of some kind.
I was curious to see what was going to happen, and I was looking forward to seeing the story wrap up. But I was nervous, too, because I knew I had to write an article for the website about what happened and worried if I was up to it.
I doubt myself about a variety of things. Most stories I cover don’t engender the anxiety that this one was did. I knew it would be complicated, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to, first of all, interpret what happened, and second, write clearly about it.
I know I sound very mysterious right now. I cannot go into details about the story because I have to keep that separate from anything else I write. So suffice it to say, it was a big story for me to write.
What I’m thinking about now, and writing to you about, is how my body responded throughout the day to the ebb and flow of anxiety.
I started the day feeling hyped. The caffeine I had probably didn’t help.
I felt like “something’s going to happen.”
When I finally got the news of what the conclusion was going to be, I almost leaped out of my chair. I ran into my editor’s office and told him the news, then told anyone in the office that would listen. I called my husband and told him.
I felt like I had to talk out the situation. I wanted to talk rather than settle down, focus and write.
The adrenaline carried me through the first article I posted on the newspaper website.
Doing further follow-up, I made some phone calls and waited for return calls. I was so anxious not to miss one call in particular, I asked the office assistant to come get me if the person called while I was in the bathroom.
Wouldn’t you know it? I put off going to the bathroom, and when I finally did walk down the hall, this person called. My co-worker came to get me, and I hurried back.
I was feeling OK about the story I had written, but I still had the “something’s going to happen” feeling. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
This sense of urgency I felt made me move fast. It kept me from being able to slow down. I remember thinking that I should sit in my chair and do some deep breathing. But I couldn’t stop my racing thoughts, and my body was shaking inside.
It kept me from eating right. Today, prior to supper, I had a protein shake, some crackers, a small box of raisins, a Snickers Bar, an apple and more crackers with cream cheese.
Yeah. Yuck. What a combination.
By around 2 this afternoon, the adrenaline was gone. Apparently, my body had had enough. I felt exhausted and so sleepy. I still had work to do, so I grabbed more caffeine.
That made me jittery enough to get through the rest of the day. I came home. I was so tired, but I couldn’t relax.
I got into comfortable clothes and lay down to try to nap. I still couldn’t relax, so I finally took one of my anti-anxiety pills, turned off the lamp and turned on one of my battery-powered pillar candles. (Have I told you I love those things?)
Then I kept saying to myself, calm down. I must have because I was able to sleep a little while, though fitfully.
When I got up, I felt nauseated. My stomach started to make some weird noises, like all that I’d eaten that day was going to go right through me. I had a headache. My jaw muscles were tight.
And so I sit here, not feeling too well.
I could have done some things to make my day easier on my body. I could have held back on so much caffeine. I could have taken just a few minutes to sit and gather my thoughts and breathe. I could have prepared healthy snacks to eat. I could have exercised before or after work.
Oh, if only.
I’m not beating up on myself as much as reminding myself that I don’t have to feel this way. There are things I can do to counteract at least some of the anxiety.
I just have to do it.
How does your body react to anxiety?