Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My body on anxiety—again

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?


24 comments:

  1. you are so brave to share your experiences with anxiety....

    i hope you are able to do the things you need to do, to feel better. it's time consuming, though, to take care of one's self!!

    have a happy wednesday!!

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    1. Thank you, Debbie. I love your upbeat attitude!

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  2. Self-awareness is half the battle...and you definitely have that so that's good. My body reacts to anxiety with headaches usually. I hope your Wednesday is wonderful.

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    1. Thanks, Keith. Headaches are no fun, are they?

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  3. i hope this time with lots of work, you'll be better prepared and kinder to yourself.

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    1. Thanks, Theresa. Yes, I know next week is going to have more stress than usual, so I should be better prepared.

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  4. Hi Tina, sorry to hear about your headaches and nausea. Eating a late supper can only make things worse, as our bodies need time to unwind and digest. My body reacts to anxiety with headaches and other ailments such as eczema. Take care of yourself and make certain you allow yourself some down time.

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    1. Thank you, Linda. You've given some good tips--I appreciate it!

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  5. I'm sorry you are so stressed out. I hope you get some time to at least go for a walk outside or snuggle with one of your sweet cats today.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. Two very good suggestions. My kitties are the cure for a lot of things!

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  6. Sorry you are dealing with so much a anxiety now, Tina. I can relate to the not being able to settle down, too much adrenaline feeling.........I hope you are able to do some of the things you know will help you.

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    1. Thank you, Janet. When I get really stressed, I tend to forget about the things that will help me calm down. But I'm trying to get better at it. :-)

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  7. I'm sorry you're going through this, Tina.

    I get these anxiety symptoms a lot too. My therapist and I were just talking yesterday about that sense of urgency I've had lately and the racing thoughts and not being able to settle down.

    I'll pray that you endure this stress in a more relaxed fashion.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. That's a good way to describe the stressed out feeling--a sense of urgency.

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  8. I get the gurgly stomach and that horrible feeling of dread. Fortunately, I don't have many of those episodes since I retired.

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    1. Nancy, That's wonderful that you don't have those feelings much anymore. I think job stress is a real problem for lots of people. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. Oh I am afraid somewhat the same as you. HUGS B

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  10. I can certainly relate. I get revved up and can't sleep, while when I'm calm and centered, I am a great sleeper. I had an "episode" this week when I received some shocking news. Sometimes I can't eat, and other times, like you, I want a not-so-healthy snack.

    The good news is that those episodes aren't as frequent or intense as they used to be. Oddly, yoga doesn't help me when I feel anxious (even though I love yoga and practice it regularly), but a long walk does. Physical work, such as I have in the garden, also helps.

    Nadine

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    1. Thanks, Nadine. I hate that revved up feeling, don't you? Physical activity helps me, too. I'm still limited in what I can do (still in the boot) but I'm hoping I'll soon be taking some walks!

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  11. My anxiety affects me in many of these same ways, Tina. It's a horrible feeling, and i'm sorry you're going through it. It seems to take less than seconds for the waves of nausea and the internal shakes to come over me. That fight or flight response is so primal. But you have lots of good techniques and ideas for handling it next time around! And no caffeine young lady! :) It doesn't help a bit.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. The feelings do come on so fast. I know that caffeine doesn't help, but I love Diet Pepsi. The decaf kind doesn't taste as good--or is that my imagination? :-)

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  12. I was invaded with a sense of dread-I functioned on no food, lots of canned diet coke, all work related though I loved my job.I've been retired many moons now and this hasn't happened once since...

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    1. Lynn, I'm glad you've found relief from the anxiety. Thank you for your comment.

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