Change of Time

HIIIIII. I’m doing poorly at posting as often as I usually do. I’m sorry about that. There’s a lot happening.

First up, as I’ve mentioned, the new school year has been pretty good. But stressful. I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up since we started, and though I know that won’t always be the case, it’s frustrating. I don’t like being in the position where how I spend my time is dictated for me. I especially don’t like feeling like I don’t have time to do things that are vital, like yoga and spending time with the dude.

How I spend my time has been on my mind a lot, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed and that’s led to some fairly constant background anxiety. I can only think of a few mornings since we started school that I haven’t woken up with tightness in my chest, and there have been a few days where that has persisted and developed into feeling on edge most of the day. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve had to deal with anxiety on a daily basis for more than a couple of days at a time, and while it’s been mild, it’s also been annoying. It makes me feel like I haven’t had any peace or gotten any rest in the last few weeks, though I know that I have.

It’s also brought me back to the idea of what living with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and the management of it are like. I like to think that I’m in the place where I can do a few maintenance things and then forget about it, but when I actually think about it, I spend a lot of time managing it and I don’t have that much wiggle room. A lot of that is just the intersection of my personal constellation of triggers/symptoms and my job: I know that poor sleep/lack of sleep exacerbates anxiety and getting up at 6:00am is a must in order to avoid feeling rushed when I get to work, so I have to be strict about bed time. And I have to be strict about yoga; my sister and I were trying to get together this weekend, and I couldn’t because I know I can’t slack on my practice when anxiety is daily like it is now. It’s hard for me to see friends because everybody is still working when I get out of school, and I can’t really go out after dinner because by the time I get anywhere I have to come back home to get to bed on time. But going out to dinner often means skipping yoga or still being out late, and weekends, well, weekends are really the only time I have with the dude where one of us isn’t asleep or almost asleep. And, honestly, I need my Sundays so that I can recharge and prep for the week ahead.

But I’m having a really hard time lately with how boxed in anxiety can make me feel. A lot of that is my own doing: I know myself, and if I’m not strict about my exercise and sleep, I will stay up super late and neglect yoga and it won’t take long until another panic attack is right around the corner. But I have to be honest. There’s a sizable part of me that really wishes this wasn’t a thing I had to deal with. Don’t get me wrong; anxiety has taught me a lot and helped me a lot and that’s great, but shit, I just want to go to a bar during happy hour and drink a whiskey with a friend and not feel bad about it because it means I skipped yoga and will have a headache all day at work the next day. I want to not have to plan my day around my work, sleep, and exercise. (I know, I know, that’s life, but jeez, I just wanna see my friends sometimes.) I want to feel ok about staying home and going out, and right now, I don’t feel that way about either. (Actually, I’m like 90% cool with staying home.) I’m having trouble reconciling that the things I need to do to manage anxiety necessitate my seeing my friends less.

I’m fortunate that I have friends who don’t question my priorities or make me feel bad about them, and who tell me they miss me and they want to see me even though it probably won’t happen for another month because life. I’m grateful that I have a sister who gets it and a partner who gets it, and that they both allow me the space and the freedom to do what I need to do. I’m grateful that I’ve learned to make healthy choices for myself and thus for my relationship and my career.

But sometimes I just want to not have to make the choice. I want it to go away. I want it to be something I don’t have to think about and actively manage and work on all the time. I want a break. That’s the thing about anxiety; even when you’re not feeling it, it’s not gone. You still have to manage it so that you don’t feel it. And I’m tired. It’s a slog. I feel like I’m bound by my healthy choices and I just want someone else to take responsibility. And while managing GAD has helped me to relearn to actually love yoga and want to do it often, which in turn helps the anxiety and stabilizes my moods and gives me mental focus and stamina, there are days when getting on the mat is the absolute last thing I want to do.

I’ve learned that those are the days when I need it the most. When I got home today I was in no mood to change my clothes and set up my mat and blocks and rosin my mat (this stuff is AWESOME by the way). The dog has been sick, so we’ve been waking up in the middle of the night to take her out, and the anxiety has been making it hard to fall back asleep. The dude takes her because he knows I have to get up, but I’m on edge from the anxiety, so I wake up anyway. I got about three hours of sleep last night and then worked an extra two hours today, and by the time I got home I just wanted to sit on the couch and look at puppies on Instagram. I didn’t, and I’m glad that I didn’t. 30 minutes of yoga felt good, and while I’m still tired, I don’t feel as mentally sluggish or cranky.

That’s not the point, though. The point is that life with GAD is many things for many people, and it can change. For a long time, for me, it was brief spikes of intense anxiety and in between was a lot of therapy and soul-searching and working to find the management that will work for me. And now that I’ve found that, I feel like now is when I’m actually starting the real work: because now is when my endurance and stamina are tested. Now is when my resilience matters more than ever. Managing anxiety, day in, day out, is a vastly different experience than trying to curb panic attacks. Both kinds of work are challenging, but, in a way, the management almost feels higher stakes to me: this is what a big chunk of the rest of my life looks like. And I have to get right with that.

To be brutally honest, that SUCKS. And it’s ok that it sucks. It’s allowed to suck. I’m generally pretty upbeat, but I don’t want to end this post looking on the bright side. This is a tough thing I’m doing, and while I’m tough(actual quote from the dude), it’s ok for me not to be sometimes. It’s ok for me to wallow a little. (Not too much though, because at a certain point that just becomes a refusal to take responsibility.) It’s ok for me to be frustrated and feel stuck and to not always be happy with the way my life is. While I’m not really having panic attacks anymore, anxiety has taken over my life in this whole other way that I kind of resent right now. And I get to be mad about it. Sometimes I just want to be like

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So, you know what? I already did something today. It’s bed time.

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