The Physical Side of Anxiety

Anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder, knows the physical discomfort and pain it can cause. Each of us experience different symptoms, but our struggles are the same. One of the most difficult parts of our disorder is when the people who love us can’t understand what we are going through.

My struggle goes by the name Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and I’ve dealt with the effects of anxiety since a small child. Luckily for me, medication agrees with me, and I’ve had the good fortune of having a great therapist at one point in my life. Unfortunately, he has long since retired, but his teachings have stayed with me. For the most part, I manage my anxiety very well; however, there are times when the beast sneaks up and bites me.

Yesterday was one of those times. Big life changes can trigger me, and there is a good chance I might be changing jobs in the near future. This is self-inflicted, as I don’t need to change jobs — but I want to. I’m a driven person, and a great opportunity has presented itself to me. I had a phone call scheduled with the recruiter at 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning, and I could feel the anxiety from the moment I woke up.

A quicken heart beat, shallowness of breath, restlessness, and waves of nausea, were the first physical signs of my anxiety. The only thing I could do at that point was to focus on my breath and try and calm myself. It didn’t work, so my symptoms got worse. My body tensed up, and I alternated between hot flashes and chills. My hands began to shake, and I couldn’t concentrate. I wanted nothing more than to run away, but there was nowhere to run too.

As the day went on, I started feeling sick. Something like a flu, but not quite. My head ached, and it hurt to keep my eyes open. I was worried the headache would turn into a full-blown migraine, so I downed a handful of Tylenol and Advil. My thoughts were racing, and I knew they weren’t rational. I knew what I was “supposed” to think and feel, but I couldn’t stop the irrational thoughts. I’m an expert at hiding my anxiety, so the phone call went really good. That only heightened my anxiety because it meant I was one step closer to the change.

By the time I got home from work, I was a physical wreck. I felt like I was either going to throw up or pass out, but neither happen. My boyfriend couldn’t understand why I was so anxious. What should cause excitement caused me anxiety. He continually reminded me that this was a good thing for me. I continually tell him that I knew it, but I was still anxious.

I took more pain medication, poured a glass of wine, and eventually pass out on the couch from shear exhaustion. I woke up this morning extremely groggy, but without anxiety. Today is better, so today is perfect.