What Anxiety Means to Me

Can I confess to having a heaping share of anxiety lately? It comes and goes like LA traffic. Sometimes you’re cruising right along on the 405 and then suddenly, often for no fathomable reason, the cars all back up on each other and tension seems to rise palpably. Other times, you know traffic’s going to be a snarl and you just take a deep breath, grit your teeth and merge anyway. Seeing my credit card bills come due is like merging onto the 10 at rush hour. The anxiety hits, you know you can’t really avoid it and you just keep going.

So anxiety is both certain and unpredictable. I know it’s hanging around because of big life events going on. I’m not generally an anxious person. Worry, sure (I’m a mother). Obsessive, on occasion. And sometimes I can be a little perfectionistic. The anxiety is specific to this time and won’t last forever. In the meantime, I try to breathe, call girlfriends and my mom and listen to guided mindfulness meditations from an app called Headspace. The 10 minute bits on Headspace are led by Andy Puddicombe, one of the company’s founders. I feel a little bad for what I’m about to say since Andy is a fully ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk, but here goes.  Andy’s hot and he’s got a great voice.  Love the English accent. Let’s just say that I’m mindful of why I chose Headspace over other sites. But the meditations do help. I’m reminded of techniques I learned years ago that just sort of fell away.

I’m freelancing and it’s going pretty well.  New opportunities are turning up all the time, but this is still unfamiliar for me. Working full time, being single, co-parenting and having the financial responsibility in this way are all new to me. I get scared. I feel strong. I want to feel sorry for myself sometimes. I get angry, sad, hurt, happy. I feel terribly competent and then terribly anxious.

Anxiety = Fear. Fear is primal which means you can’t reason with it. You just have to recognize the bastard and keep going anyway. It also helps to listen to Patti Smith really loud in the car with the windows open when you’re on the freeway with traffic good or bad.  Singing helps because it forces you to breathe regularly. The right song will let you enter someone else’s heartache and leave yours behind for about three minutes. I like Patti Smith for these moments because she may have been afraid to get up and sing, but you’d never know by the raw growl and power of her voice. She’s bad ass. Since it’s looking like I won’t be a rock star, I’ll shoot for bad ass.

How do you handle anxiety? I’d love to hear your ideas, experiences and tips.  Please share!

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