• Kelly Tietjen

My Tell Tale Signs of Anxiety

The other night, as I was laying my head down to sleep, my mind began racing. My mind races all the time. It comes with the territory for any one with an anxiety disorder. Sometimes, however - the racing turns into heart palpitations which turn into labored breaths which produces an anxiety attack.

I don't get anxiety attacks all that often. They started when I was in middle school, but I've had years go by without one. They almost always happen at night just as I'm about to go to sleep. Probably because that's when I tend to think the most. Andrew always knows the signs now because it usually starts with a sudden breath in. Once he hears it he's usually at my side before I even realize it's happening. Note to yo-self: get yourself a partner who knows your anxiety symptoms.

In 2020 I have had 4 anxiety/panic attacks. That's a lot for me. I'm grateful I don't get them more often of course, since there are definitely people who do, but knowing that I've had more than my usual helping is really concerning to me. This year has been the pits to say the least. We've spent the majority of it indoors, alone or with very few people and scared. I know people who have lost their family and their jobs. My family has had health scares. I've had health scares. Important plans have changed which has added stress to my relationships. I'm one of the of lucky ones though. I have my job, no one close to me has passed away and I'm not living alone. That doesn't mean I'm not in any pain. It pains me to see people hurting. For whatever reason I tend to take on the emotional toll of other people's heartache. It has nothing to do with me, but I still feel so sad.

Right now I'm dealing with something personal that I really want to go into more detail about but feel like I should wait. I'm anxious for news that seems to be taking its sweet time walking up the steps to my door. I don't do well with waiting. I'm a very impatient person. When I'm really anxious about something, I've discovered that I go into a state of paralysis. I guess that's why they call it "crippling anxiety." It took me a while to figure out my own signs that I was anxious. Here are a few.

  1. I drop out of Social Media For anyone who knows me pretty well - I love Instagram. I'm on it pretty much all day every day. I love posting to my stories pictures of my dopey cats, a selfie after a run or just to check in about my day. If you notice I haven't been on in a few days or that my posts are lagging. You can be pretty sure I'm not doing so great. When I'm anxious or depressed, I want to hide. I know it's a little odd but this really is my sign #1 that something is off.

  2. I up the drinking. This has been a problem for me for a while and probably the most dangerous sign of my anxiety. I can pound a bottle of wine when I'm in this kind of state. I'm trying to turn off my brain as much as possible. Alcohol does the trick but it only makes my anxiety/depression worse the next day. Go figure.

  3. The TV becomes my new boyfriend. All I want to do when I'm depressed or anxious - is escape. Some people turn to drugs, I turn to watching Gossip Girl for the 5th time and guess what? It doesn't get better each time you watch it okay?? So many flaws in that show - but I'll save that for another time. Suffice it to say - I am glued to the couch and deeply involved with my TV in order to get away from my own thoughts.

  4. I get really quiet. Normally I'm a pretty outgoing person. I'm talkative, goofy and sometimes even offensively loud... but when I'm down, I'm mute. Even the closest people in my life have a hard time getting me to talk. I ignore texts, phone calls and emails. It sometimes takes my live in boyfriend several tries to get me to have a conversation. This phase doesn't happen every time I'm depressed but - it only really happens when my anxiety is at its worst.

  5. I sleep... a lot. This one kind of goes both ways. I actually often have trouble sleeping because of my anxiety, but I don't have trouble waking up when I'm supposed to. When my anxiety and depression collide though, you can pretty much count on me sleeping every day until it subsides. The only way I wake up on time or at a reasonable hour at all is if I'm motivated. Depression + Anxiety = 0 motivation.

If any of these signs sound familiar to you, you're not alone. It might be worth talking to someone about it. It took me so long to realize what my anxiety symptoms were and now that I know what they are, I can do something about them sooner. In 2021, I'm trying to take things a day at a time. I'm really REALLY bad at that. I've always been a planner, someone who looks to the future and wants everything to stay in check, but that's not how life works, and it's not the most enjoyable way to live it either. I think it's fine to plan for the future and have dreams and goals, but living that way all day every day? It's unnecessary and anxiety provoking. The trigger of all triggers. So between living in the moment and a lot of meditation, I hope to be transformed by the end of the year, or at the very least have less worry lines.

As Maya Angelou Said: “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” And we all know she's better than all of us.

Self Care. Self Flare.



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