Let’s talk anxiety. That nasty, gut-clenching, cold sweat monster that rears it’s ugly head at sometimes unexpected moments. However, when you live with it, you start a running list of all the situations and people that give you an anxious rush.
I was such an anxious little kid. There was no running around, totally carefree and joyous, for me. I was the kid standing off to the side (usually with my head buried in a book), and I kept an eye on the adults in the area. I’ve always been very perceptive of body language, and mood. I don’t know if I quite qualify for an empath, but I know I certainly feel like it a lot of the time. I could always tell when adults were nervous, or upset.
Was it my parent’s divorce that made me so anxious? I only have one memory of them fighting down in the kitchen. But no doubt the very tense times post-divorce when they had to meet up to exchange kids made an impression on me.
My anxiety is why I think I must have been on an ovulation high when I auditioned for dancing. That night, quite a few years ago, upstairs in the back office when I stripped down in front of the owner to prove I could do it in front of strangers. (I will elaborate on this in a future post. When I think back to how that club had girls “audition” I cringe a little). Ovulation would have been the only thing that gave me the guts to do something like that.
And then, when I was 20, I discovered the miracle of marijuana. WOW, did it take the edge off! And man, the music pouring out of the speakers sounded AMAZING and even the stale popcorn they offered customers tasted 10x better than normal. By the way, I get chewed out by the owner when word got out that I was smoking weed. I had been the golden stripper- didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t do any drugs. Partly due to a super controlling ex-husband, but also because I had just never gotten into anything. Well, what good are strip clubs for but for introducing drugs? Pretty soon I was joining the small crowd that would pile onto the ratty sofa in the back of the club and pass the joint around.
And after enough years, I needed more and more weed to deal with the customers, and the monotony, once business dried up in that place. Good old recession wiped out a bunch of big businesses in our area.
It wasn’t until I dated a guy who had major anxiety issues, but who talked about it, that I made a breakthrough. It wasn’t until I was around 26 that I realized that what I was feeling was anxiety. I didn’t have a word for the way I felt before then, I just recognized the symptoms.
Once I had a word stuck to that awful feeling that kept plaguing me, it was like a narrow pathway was forged, to recovery. It’s not like I never have anxiety anymore. I wish. However, I have learned the immeasurable power of taking deep breaths when that feeling starts creeping up. A few deep, calming breaths can really give you that space you need away from the anxiety to get ahold of yourself.
Once I left dancing, and started applying and interviewing for non-naked jobs, that was when I really had to learn to control my anxiety. Interviewing for jobs was absolutely terrifying. But what I learned to tell myself was, hey girl- you’ve been here before. You’ve done this same thing before. And you survived. In fact, you did pretty well. So you’ll go and sit through the interview, and take everything you’ve learned from the ones before, and you’ll ace it. This time tomorrow, you’re going to be looking back at the terrifying thing which you lived through.
I have made so much progress with my anxiety in the last five years. Part of that progress is due to getting older and the natural progression of just caring less and less about what people think.
If you are still suffering from uncontrolled anxiety, please seek help. Please talk to someone you trust about it. You are not alone- seems like everyone suffers from it these days. And remember the power of a few deep breaths. Remind yourself that you have felt this way so many times before, and you got through it. You survived. You will survive again.