BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Thursday, January 25, 2018

High Anxiety

I have anxiety.

I'm not sure if I've had it all my life or if it developed later, but I do know I was dealing with anxiety issues in high school and college for certain. I'm sure junior high had some symptoms/issues as well, but my memories of that time aren't clear enough to say for certain and I have no idea about grade school.

For a long time, I didn't realize what was going on. I attributed what I felt to social anxiety or stress and assumed there'd be a day/time when it stopped.

It didn't stop, and in the fall of 2016, my anxiety went off the rails. It was bad. I couldn't sleep, and once I did fall asleep, I'd wake up and lie in bed with my brain churning out horrible scenarios. After close to two months of this, I realized two things. 1) I had anxiety, no ifs, ands, or buts and 2) I had to get a handle on it now. There was no way I could continue like this.

One thing I did know what that I didn't want to go on medication for a variety of reasons, so I started thinking about other ways to deal with it. I'd meditated for years, but I couldn't quiet my mind enough for that, but I heard that crochet and knitting were good.

That's why I signed up for my first crochet class, and four months later, a knitting class. And this is why I spent so much time crocheting and knitting for a lot of 2017. It was my way of coping. The good news for me is that the crafts did help. I was able to sleep again and find a place of mental peace much of the time.

And as I gained control of the anxiety, I realized that I'd had a heavy dose of it since I'd moved to Atlanta and it was strangling my creativity. Once I got a handle on it, I was able to start writing again. It's slow going as I relearn how to put words into sentences, but I took some craft classes to refresh my brain and I went to a conference--which I blogged about in, I believe, October. I'm working on a novella right now which had the roughest first draft that I've written in probably 15 years or so, but I'm happy to have words again.

As much as I'd like to believe I have anxiety in hand permanently, I know that's not the case. This is something I'll be dealing with for the rest of my life and there are still nights where I don't sleep much with the incessant worry. I had one of those not that long ago where I managed maybe an hour and a half around my brain spinning.

This is why I've crocheted blankets, knitted shawls and scarves, and am usually working on something. It's my anxiety medication.

When I look backward, it's hard to believe I didn't realize much earlier what my problem was, but I'm learning to forgive myself for not having a perfect vision of what I'm dealing with. Life is not easy and anxiety makes it worse. Now I know and can do something about it.