Anxiety steals your life. It happens slowly, sometimes even without your knowledge. Your world gets smaller and smaller until one day you realize you can’t cope. At worst, there are panic attacks. At best, outbursts. It’s so hard to deal with life when you consistently feel overloaded.
Many anxious people don’t even know they are anxious. They live their lives in such a way that their baseline is above relaxed, but they don’t know any different. Life consists of a myriad of little stressors that, taken more than once, can make them feel as if they can’t handle things. Showing up on time to an appointment causes stress because there’s no room for error. Socializing takes days to recover from because it takes so much energy to ensure that they don’t mess up, don’t offend, don’t draw attention to themselves. Conflict with a boss can create absolute panic. So much energy is directed toward perfect- because when you’re perfect, you don’t draw attention — being excellent means being worthy and drawing approval.
Daily life takes so much thought, so much space in their heads. The act of living is exhausting.
Anxiety takes over the space in your brain until you can’t focus on anything else. You can’t remember conversations, promises made, dates, or times. You don’t imprint memories as you’re living your life because you aren’t really there. Then comes the toll on the body: the headaches, always feeling tired, waking up in the middle of the night with so many thoughts, feeling like your lungs won’t hold air, racing heart, tight shoulders, grinding teeth…
This may be your normal, but it doesn’t have to be. Life can be easier.
These symptoms manifest for a multitude of reasons. It may only be that your family is genetically wired to be a bit more anxious. Perhaps, the struggle is a bit different, and the source is domestic violence, childhood abuse, a single terrible event. Anxiety shows up to motivate you to act, but after a certain point can be paralyzing.
We only get one nervous system. Over time, if we respond to everything that feels like a threat, we can train ourselves to be anxious. It often manifests as driven thought-a difficulty calming your mind in order to focus entirely. From there, the nervous system gets overstimulated, and new “fight or flight” symptoms show up as muscle tension, sweaty palms, racing heart, increased blood pressure, and release of biochemical messengers that tell the body it is in danger. Anxiety is not all in your head. Your body is involved too. The good news is, this is fixable. Our job is to get you to a place where you can relax, where you can tell the difference between motivating anxiety and fight or flight. We work to get you back in control.
You know you need help when your response to a stimulus is out of proportion to the stimulus itself. If you’re yelling at your children for being overly noisy, If you can’t cope with the unpredictability at work, if you can’t sleep or eat, if you find yourself excessively angry or emotional, or if you find that others are consistently telling you that you could use some guidance, it may be time to consider help.