Don't feed the monster

There are stretches of time when I'm convinced I'm in danger.

Anxiety is the worst facet of my life, and it's a giant one. It takes over and replaces a bright, bubbly person with a crumpled, crying heap whose heart threatens to blow up. I get so scared. I concoct these elaborate, grandiose doomsday scenarios triggered by the smallest stimulus. I don't do this for fun. I don't do it on purpose. I'm not bored and courting drama.

As far as my brain is concerned, I'm naked on the rack in a public square, being slowly ripped apart, and everyone is pointing and laughing.

There are times when I'm fine, and times when every day my adrenaline is surging as much as if I barely dodged getting hit by a car. It's a constant case of the mean reds.

Complaining about anxiety makes me even more anxious. Because people want you to just snap out of it. They think you're crazy. Self-indulgent. Or a total narcissist who gets off on the paradox of megalomania meeting crippling self pity.

My anxiety is a monster. I've tried everything I can think of to tame it. Prayer. Hypnosis. Yoga. Therapy. Medication. Music. Knitting. Drawing. Reading. It all helps, to an extent. If you told me underwater square dancing to dubstep while wearing feathers was the guaranteed cure for anxiety, I'd go get me a chicken and start plucking.

I'd had it under control for a while, and then I cracked. And when there's a crack in my psyche, it spreads. Bad stuff seeps in. I'm fully aware how ridiculous I'm being, but I can't reel it in.

I can't tell you how it started, because I've always been easily riled. As a kid, I'd vomit when scared of new places. That evolved into stress-induced migraines. I went through a phase where my hands would shake so bad that I couldn't hold a pen or turn the pages of a book. Confirmation bias that the world is dangerous has made it worse, for sure: everything from the fatal shooting of a teacher at my school in sixth grade to my family life growing up to my volatile past relationships contributed to my fear of everything.

So in therapy a few years ago, we talked a lot about not feeding the monster by doing things that trigger the anxiety or worsen the attack.  For me, a big source of anxiety is overanalyzing social interactions. If there's a string of text messages that I know I'm going to keep rereading and stressing out about, I delete them so I don't have the option to do that. Sometimes, I can shut down a thought pattern by labeling it as destructive rather than constructive. I can play "real or not real" like in Mockingjay and go through basic facts and observations that make me feel grounded.

But the monster has been allowed to gorge, and I haven't kept up with my strategies. Now it's time to put it back on a diet. There's a core in me that nothing touches, but the monster and anything it manifests as has been clawing close to that center.

If you're anything like me, remember this passes. It's hard to remember when it's happening, and I'm just now emerging from a bad spell. Give yourself a break. Don't feed the monster. Because that's what makes it become real.


  1. Anxiety is not a joke, I sometimes find myself feeling like I am suffering from it. I just try to relax and breathe. Glad to know i am not the only one who suffers with it :-/. It's true just know to relax and know that it will pass.

  2. kathy @ vodka and sodaJanuary 19, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    anxiety is the soul robber. when i was going through severe PPD, the anxiety i felt robbed me of my sleep and sanity because i was afraid of EVERYTHING; it was so paralyzing. i hope you're able to get back to your coping strategies; they really do help.

    Vodka and Soda

  3. I feel your pain my love. I'm glad that you've been able to figure out a few ways to help yourself when it hits.

  4. Thank you. I'm so glad that helps you! It at the very least calms me down enough that I can examine what's really bothering me.

  5. I'm really grateful for that, and for my blog girls!