Rabbit Hearted Girl

First came the depression when I was a child. Then came the bipolar diagnosis when I was in my early twenties. Then came the borderline diagnosis a few years after that. Now, lately anyway, my main problem is anxiety. Anxiety is newer to me than depression or mania are. I don’t think I had much of it back before Edward & I got together because my life was such a wreck that I had very little to lose. Not much to lose kind of means you have no reason to be anxious but there are lots of reasons to be depressed. That’s how it has worked for me anyway. I still haven’t worked out how to cope with the anxiety in the optimal way. Not that I’ve gotten highly skilled at managing depressive episodes when they happen either yet. But still.

I’ve been trying what feels like everything to get my anxiety under control but I’ve found little relief. My psychiatrist & I have tried a handful of new medications, one after another, adding them to my current cocktail of meds. But all of them have had side effects I couldn’t handle or did nothing at all.

So, I figured, maybe medication wasn’t the answer this time. I started exercising almost everyday. I stayed hydrated. I started therapy again. I stretched. I got outside. I learned to breath deeply, horizontally, into my diaphragm. I talked to myself – saying reassuring things out loud when no one else was around to hear except the dogs.

It’s not making much difference most of the time. I’m frustrated with being anxious when there is no reason to be, exhausted from it, body always tense as if I’m in flight or fight mode, but I’ll keep trying. Anyone have any other ideas? I know I should give meditation more of a shot than I have. 

I’ve done housework & artist work today. I’ve talked to people on the phone. I still have some housework to finish but I think I am going to go to the store, buy some yarn & knitting needles then spend the rest of the afternoon trying to make a ridiculously oversized scarf in August in Alabama while finishing up an audiobook I’ve been working on for way too long. Maybe knitting will be the answer? You never know.

When I started writing this post, the anxiety was intense. Now, I’m feeling, though still a bit anxious, something close to “myself” again. Now, in this moment, when I’ve just gotten off the phone with my best friend (she also has bipolar & is one of the most emotionally intelligent people I know) and I have a pleasant afternoon ahead of me. Or maybe it’s just that the 1mg of Klonopin I took earlier this morning has kicked in. Or maybe writing is helping. Or maybe it’s all a very tangled web of things, maybe there isn’t one solution, maybe it requires a menagerie of actions and lifestyle modifications and trying to think in healthier ways. Maybe this is just another step in my constant state of being a work-in-progress person, maybe learning to handle this intense anxiety when it arises, learning to self-soothe, is part of what will make me more whole. Maybe this is a part of my healing process.

What are some ways, fellow folks with intense anxiety struggles, that you manage? I’d appreciate your tips, tricks, strategies or just any feedback you have on dealing with intense anxiety.

(Photographs in post from my “Bipolar Series,” taken forever ago.)

2 thoughts on “Rabbit Hearted Girl

  1. “I don’t think I had much of it back before Edward & I got together because my life was such a wreck that I had very little to lose. Not much to lose kind of means you have no reason to be anxious but there are lots of reasons to be depressed.” This really resonated with mye experiences. Anxiety seemed to step into my life to fill the seat depression left, and I think that was for exactly the reason you articulated.
    One of the biggest helps to me with my mental health has been the structure of scheduled, regular work, preferably outside of my home. Outside of that, damn, I have done so much fiddling with my life/habits to stop being miserable with anxiety. Things like giving up coffee and caffeinated tea, basically giving up alcohol, being careful to not get overstimulated, figuring out how to work exercise into my life. I use reminders/habit trackers/routine-building a lot to make sure I stay on top of daily stuff and keep doing the small things that help me.
    For acute anxiety, talking to my partner, this one particular tincture, and my weighted blanket are my best short-term helps. Making myself tea (as a “calm down, we are taking care of us” cue) and journaling is also good. Sometimes hot showers in the dark. Sometimes, learning how to just wait it out without giving myself anxiety ABOUT the anxiety.

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    1. I’m glad you can relate to the sentiment – makes me feel more normal. Thanks so much for your comment, Holly. It means a lot to me that you typed that all out for me. I need to get a weighted blanket – they’ve been recommended to me before. I feel like a dog buying a thunder shirt for myself haha. Cheers & love! ❤

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