When Anxiety Sets In

Anxiety is not something I am used to experiencing. I had it pretty bad when my depression first started back in my Sophomore year of college in late 2011 and early 2012. My anxiety sometimes presents as this tension in my gut, like a knot, and I want to punch walls and scream and burst into tears. As I said, I’m not used to having anxiety lately, but I’ve had it more and more often recently, especially since starting my newest job.

About a week ago my anxiety was so bad that I burst into tears 4 or 5 times throughout the day. The thought of going to work the next day felt unbearable but somehow I managed to go. After work I was still a wreck and I nearly had an anxiety attack when I went to go tutor my nephew. I literally had to stick my head out an open window so I could breathe easier.

I was able to go to work again this week but, at one point, my anxiety was so high that I needed to call my therapist while on break. There wasn’t too much that I was able to do on break, but I listened to that Marconi Union song “Weightless” for a couple minutes to help reduce my heart rate. As soon as I had to go back to work though, my anxiety started spiking again. I did my best to do some paced breathing but eventually I got so busy at work that I couldn’t focus on my breath. On the plus side, I couldn’t focus on my anxiety either.

My anxiety symptoms seem to have some biological markers of anger and some of fear. For anger, I get tense, want to hit things, feeling like I’m going to explode, and burst into tears. For fear, I want to avoid and hide. For fear, I get a fast heartbeat, I have the urge to scream or call out, and I want to run away or avoid things.

So, to opposite action these emotions, I talked with my therapist and looked in my DBT skills book to find some ideas of what to do. We came up with changing posture (such as staying confident and relaxed, unclenching tense muscles) and changing my body chemistry, either by punching a pillow or a couch or by paced breathing or even with some other nonviolent physical activity.

Anxiety sucks, but there are things that we can do to try to help ease the tension. I’m hanging in there! Wish me luck!


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