Posts in "Anxiety"
When Anxiety Returns
When Anxiety Returns | Freckled Italian

I’ve been having a hard time lately.

It started a few weeks ago—I was restless and irritated, like I wanted to jump out of my own skin. I stopped drinking my afternoon coffee and started running again and it subsided. Last year I wondered if I might get postpartum anxiety or depression since I’ve struggled with anxiety in the past, but I more or less felt “normal” after Sophie’s birth. For a week or two I felt weepy in the evenings, but I had prepared for it so I just kind of rode it out until it went away. Caring for a tiny human who needed us so desperately actually helped me put things into perspective, and for a long time I stopped obsessing over irrational fears the way I used to. I put things into baskets—worry about this now because it’s a real thing, worry about that later because it’s not happening yet, don’t worry about that because you made it up and it’s silly.

But then Thanksgiving came, and I was so excited to go home and see friends and celebrate Sophie’s birthday that I wasn’t even looking for the wave of anxiety that crashed over me and knocked me down. All day I was fine, but then the sun would set and I’d find myself thinking breathe in…breathe out, like I had somehow forgotten. I laid on the floor of my mom’s bedroom for what felt like a minute but was actually twenty. It was so familiar: a panic you can’t explain—or worse, a fear that you try to explain and realize it makes no sense as it’s coming out of your mouth, but even still you can’t shake it.

Reading and podcasts and therapy and also just years of experience have helped me get to a place where at least I know this isn’t forever—but I also know I have to work through it. Talking about it helps, and it makes me feel less crazy, which is why I always end up writing about anxiety when it hits because being transparent about my struggles seems to resonate and I think we could all use a little more support when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Every time we come back from a visit to the East Coast, I spend that first day back home with the blues. Yesterday was that day—so I cleaned, and I put up Christmas decorations, and I poured heavy cream into hot tea and took bone broth out of the freezer. I went to Palo Alto to teach two classes and then I worked out. Self care for me isn’t a massage or a face mask, it’s good food and clean floors and exercise and an appointment request sent to my therapist.

It’s been a big year for me—I became a mother, we moved (twice), Rob took paternity leave and then went back to work, I tried to balance blogging and barre with being a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes I still don’t really know who I am or what my days should look like, but my family and the love and gratitude I have for this life we’ve built keeps me rooted even when the tide comes in.

Wishing the best for all of you this holiday season. Take care of yourselves, and remember to reach out for help when you need it—you deserve that.

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When Anxiety Gets the Best of You
When Anxiety Gets the Best of You

Last night Rob and I were supposed to go to a show--my favorite band was playing with one of his favorite bands and we bought the tickets months ago. I've always had trouble in crowded places, and music venues in particular get my anxiety raging; but for the most part I can stand near the back, close to a door, and more or less enjoy the show. This particular show was outdoors and I thought for sure that the open space would provide a perfect situation for me to listen to music without obsessively trying to locate the emergency exits.

But then the biggest mass shooting in United States history took place last Sunday; and as the date of the concert approached, I could feel with more and more certainty that I wasn't going to be able to walk into that amphitheater and take my seat. I'm a little embarrassed to be using the tragedy in Orlando as an excuse, because as a white, straight, female I can't even begin to imagine the discrimination and fear that the LGBT community faces every single day. I am privileged and I know it, and my safety has never been threatened for the sake of who I am. But as gun violence becomes more and more of a problem in our nation I can't help but feel that eventually we might all end up being one of the unlucky people who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. That used to be a dark and deeply illogical sentiment, but is it still? Or is it starting to become rational? This is where my anxiety usually gets the best of me--in the space between logic and unreasonableness, and soon enough I can no longer tell what's what.

When I was a teenager I cancelled a trip to Costa Rica the day before I was supposed to leave, because I couldn't stop imagining the plane going down. It must have been my first panic attack--I couldn't breathe, couldn't speak, couldn't even begin to explain the thoughts going through my head. My parents were simultaneously scared and furious, and to be honest, so was I. Over the years I've gotten better at dismissing things that don't make sense, but every now and again one will stick. The thought of a shooter in a crowded space. Ender, stranded at home if something were to happen to me and Rob. My brother getting hurt on a rock climbing trip, far away from cell service. They are terrible thoughts and they make me sick.

I started seeing a therapist recently and she told me that it sounded like I had good coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety, and while I think she's mostly right, I also think that a lot of the time I want to prove myself so badly that I don't have the patience to turn those coping mechanisms on. My coping mechanisms include Valium and self care--potato chips and Netflix on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket instead of whatever it is I should really be doing. So saying no to a show--especially one put on by two bands you've already seen live--would normally be the thing I need to do, but I kept going back and forth for hours until I found myself oddly sitting on the floor of our kitchen, feeling the cold tile beneath my legs and staring blankly at the stove.

The truth was that I hated myself a little bit in that moment. Rob, wonderfully supportive as usual, held me close and said multiple times "This isn't a good time to pick a battle," and he was right because my anxiety has been through the roof these past few weeks, and the sad news out of Orlando last weekend really devastated me. But I felt like I was letting him down, and I knew I was letting myself down. And there was the even larger, much more disappointing feeling that in this situation, I was letting terror win. When your fears, as irrational as they  might be, get bad enough that they interfere with your daily plans, it's incredibly disheartening.

But somehow, we have to learn to take care of ourselves in these situations. To forgive ourselves for our fears and our failures, even if it takes time. As much as I love to talk about deep breaths and letting go and giving yourself a break in the face of uneasiness, sometimes you just can't shake it.

But we can try again tomorrow.

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Summertime Sadness
Summertime Sadness | Freckled Italian

It was a balmy 92 degrees this weekend in Charlotte and my brother and his girlfriend were staying at our house. Everything about it was cozy and sweet--exactly the kind of thing I picture when hosting out-of-town guests: pouring iced coffee in the morning, sitting on the back patio with our dogs, making burgers and guacamole before all of our friends came over for a cookout, taking them to our favorite places for lattes and crepes and gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches, sprawling out on the couch together under blankets after a long day of entertaining. Ender loves Sean so much so every morning I would wake up to him crying outside of the guest bedroom door, hoping his uncle would either come out and play or let him in to snuggle.

And then Sunday evening arrived and my brother and Jane packed up their stuff and loaded the car as big dark rain clouds rolled in, and I found myself getting so incredibly emotional that they were here and now were leaving. Summer is so exciting sometimes, and even though it's not my favorite season I can feel the magic in it, and the emotional highs and lows that rise and crash like waves on a beach. Long weekends slam into work weeks, and sunny mornings are wiped out by afternoon thunder storms. Summer is so joyful and fun and charged with energy, and for an incredibly sensitive person like myself, it can be exhausting. 

Lately I've been feeling a little burnt out, so I'm trying to look at this summer as a highly creative experiment in being kinder to myself, and allowing the room to get what I need. Working from home often makes me feel like I need to be hustling 24/7, but I've found that these weekends where I don't even pick up my computer have been so good for my soul and my mind, especially when I'm relaxing with people I love. So I'm going to do more of that, and I hope that something beautiful will follow. 

It's almost summer. It's time to slow down.

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