Sink or swim.
That used to be my catch cry. I try it on now and it feels half hearted. As weak as a mewling new born kitten. Meek.
I was once full of passion, zest for life, verve! I could do anything I set my mind to. I met challenges with a chuckle and an “alright, let’s see how this goes”. But now, the challenges are greater and somewhere along the way my brain decided I had entered risky territory.
Now I get very worked up about challenges, to the point that my safety conscious brain essentially drives me into a figurative cupboard to cradle, protect and rock myself back to a safe place. Literally it drives my heart rate up, flushes my face with a creeping pink that spreads down my neck, my brain can’t think critically in these moments and effectively renders me mute when I need to be offering knowledge, recommendations, SOMETHING.
Heightened levels of worry. A feeling of dread seeping into the stomach, spreading to the heart. Heart rate pounding so that you think it might actually burst it’s way right out of your chest. Then it starts to get the rhythm wrong. My heart that has had a steady beat for more than 30 years starts to misstep. All because I dared to challenge myself.
I dared to put myself in a position where it mattered if I was crap and my little lizard brain remembered that I have been criticised for not being terribly smart when I was little. It remembered all the moments when I had been publicly criticised that hurt. Then my little lizard brain decided that, without consulting me mind you, it would protect me at all costs.
It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I have been “sick” a great deal this year and highly avoidant. I get all worked up and then crash, staying close to home. In fact, often not moving from my bed. Over the past few weeks my back began to hurt. It would come and go- always bad on Tuesday/Wednesday around the time of my greatest anxious moments. Then last week the pain was most intense in my back but my arms and legs were also excruciating. I felt like I might vomit the pain was so bad. Then the next Monday night I had a melt down. I could not face Tuesday. Tuesday has become a torturous day in which I feel I consistently let myself and my team down because I am not good at my role that day. And Tuesday morning, not only was my back sore but I was also very ill.
I went to the doctor who noticed an elevated heart rate, a chronic sore throat was red but not infected, my sinuses were incredibly sore- antibiotics were prescribed, but for the sore back she wanted to do blood tests. Now this was a curiosity to me. Prior to this appointment I knew I sometimes felt anxious. I didn’t realise that anxiety is getting in my way. It is a bit of a forehead thunk moment for sure, but I couldn’t help but google “back pain arm and leg”. The most common link was to either rheumatic diseases (which is why the blood test) or anxiety.
Anxiety and the crushing weight of a stuck depression taking turns to render me feeling inept and wanting to tap out. Every struggle, all the moments of overwhelm, even the content of previous posts here just scream of these two unhelpful “safety strategies” wearing down my capacity to cope and navigate this world. So unlike the life adventurer who could do anything she wanted! But knowledge is power. I am not one to let a problem go unsolved once it is recognised. So I am going to try some strategies. I am going to read a book or two and I am going to get my old chuckle filled brave heart back. Then I can be sharing with you the kind of stuff I set out to on this blog 🙂
There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin