Making Big Decisions With Anxiety

You know how when you decide to change jobs or move to a new place, you get all jittery with excitement and nerves about how it’ll all turn out?

Now imagine magnifying those feelings by ten, to the point where you’re so anxious about the end results you make yourself sick and you can’t fall asleep no matter how tired you are. And your sleep deprivation leads to a migraine, which leads to being unable to function for almost an entire day, and even when you do start to feel better and able to function, your fatigue is so overwhelming, you still can’t do much more than watch a little TV and go back to sleep.

That was how my day went yesterday. On Tuesday some friends and I went to the local animal shelter to look at pets and I found the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen. I had such a profound bond with that cat that I could’ve adopted her right on the spot. Except that I can’t take care of her financially and I don’t have a home to take her to (because my dad isn’t on board with it). However, while I was browsing the humane society’s website, I noticed they had job opportunities, one of which included a cat room attendant.

Based on the job tasks listed, it sounds like a person hired for this position would spend most of their shift taking care of the cats and cleaning, both tasks I’m capable of doing. If there’s minimal human interaction, this could be a perfect job for someone with anxiety. Unfortunately they were closed yesterday so I haven’t heard back from them yet about the job. But in the hopes that I would hear back, I started looking for apartments in the area, made a couple of appointments, and even took a tour of one (though the one I looked at was disgusting).

For most normal people, undertaking these tasks would bring about more excitement for the possibilities of change and while I did feel some excitement at first, especially at the thought of living alone and being able to decorate my own way, I was overcome with anxiety about possibly having to move within the week, having a new job while waiting for disability to respond, and doubts about being able to do the job and survive on my own because I don’t know how much the job will pay or if I’ll still be able to get disability benefits while working.

I worked myself up so much that my sleep deprived migraine worsened, I took a two hour nap after taking a shower, and after seeing the one apartment, I took another hour long nap while waiting for my meds to kick in. And even then, the meds only dulled the throb in my left temple.

As it stands now, on Thursday, I’m still sleep deprived, having tossed and turned for over an hour again last night (but eventually sleeping deeply enough to be more functional today), still fighting a migraine, but overall more relaxed about the possibility of big changes in my life. Yesterday’s lack of functionality was the aftermath of an extended period of high anxiety. Even so, knowing the feelings were temporary didn’t make them easier to handle in the moment.


Self Awareness

Hey everyone! I’m back online after several days of hassling with moving in and unpacking and organizing. Sadly not for myself, but rather a friend who needed some extra help. Anyway, here’s the latest update for me.

As it turns out, the fatigue and depression symptoms I was feeling were adverse side effects of a new medication I had started taking only 5 weeks ago. I only developed this thought on Thursday night around 9:30 pm when I was suddenly alert and feeling more like normal (though half battling a migraine while waiting for the meds to kick in). Given that my entire June had been jam packed with social activities, it was easy for the medicine’s side effects to be masked by general fatigue, since socializing takes its toll on me all the time. However, with how little I actually did this past week, the constant fatigue that was all-encompassing and the eventual depression symptoms seemed out of place with how I normally am.

So the next morning, I called my doctor and told her all about these new symptoms, asking to be taken off the medication or maybe put on a lower dose, since it was technically prescribed for migraine prevention (and it had worked for those four weeks). Thankfully I also had a therapy appointment that morning so when I described my week to my therapist, she also agreed that it was likely a side effect of the medication because I didn’t take it that Friday morning and I felt like normal. Which I really needed because I had to pick up my friend Jerad from the airport and I needed to be alert for that since it was an hour long drive both ways.

My therapist was not only excited that I had done my “homework” (that being a cognitive behavioral exercise in journaling) for when I had these depression-based thoughts, but that I was even able to identify that these weren’t my thoughts. It might have taken several days to do it, but she was impressed by my self awareness and being able to recognize foreign thoughts. That being said, however, achieving even that level of self awareness was a long journey. I’m still working on sorting out my feelings versus others’ feelings that I’m absorbing.

If you’re still working on your own self awareness, that’s perfectly ok! It takes a lot of work, just like any other thing related to the self, such as self esteem and confidence. Trust me, I’m still on that road myself. So this might sound like a broken record, but here’s some tips from someone who’s been there.

1. Don’t underestimate the power of writing. Even if you’re not a fan of writing, just the act of writing down your negative or repetitive thoughts can help calm you down and put you back in focus. If you’re mad about something, write it down and then rip the paper up, or burn it if you’re feeling adventurous and have a way to extinguish the fire if need be. I once wrote an angry letter to a former friend (WITHOUT sending it, of course!), just to air out all my grievances with her and vent my frustration over continuing to let thoughts of her ruin my days, and once I was done writing the letter, I shredded it. I felt so much better afterwards.

2. Find a quiet place. If you work in an office type setting, this might include somewhere like a stairwell no one uses or even the bathroom. Find somewhere quiet to sit down and take several deep breaths. You can close your eyes if you want; I usually find that that helps because it brings your focus solely to your breathing. Take three to four deep breaths, until you’ve calmed down and the thoughts have been reined in. You don’t have to dismiss them entirely, but calming the body down helps you make more rational decisions, especially if the situation made you emotional in the first place. Say, for example, you got passed over for a promotion again and you’re furious about it because you’ve been doing great work since you started, you’re a fast learner, etc. If you really like your job, marching into the boss’s office and yelling at them about it isn’t going to help the situation much. But if you take some time to breathe and calm down, then you have the ability to go into their office and ask them calmly why that other person was chosen instead.

3. Watch an episode or two of your favorite show. If your show’s not on cable or on demand, pop a DVD in and watch a movie instead. Something you’ve seen a hundred times but still enjoy watching. Studies have shown that watching something over and over again brings about a sense of control because you already know what’s going to happen. Once you get that feeling of control and calm back, you can recognize and rationalize the feelings that were upsetting you and figure out why you were feeling them.

That’s it for now! Take care! ❤