My Experience with High-Functioning Anxiety

I first notice it in my throat, a tightening, like I just swallowed a pill that didn’t quite go down the right way. Other times, I will notice it in my neck and shoulders at night, when I finally quiet myself enough to realize all the tension I’ve been carrying throughout the day. Often this makes it hard to fall asleep. Even still there are times that I am left wide awake by the endless stream of thoughts that permeate my brain when all I want is rest. Then there’s even the feeling I get in my chest. The palpitations and the nervous feeling only made worse by the fact that my heart is racing, an endless cycle. Usually when this is happening, I say nothing and push through until the wave of anxiety subsides.

Last night was one of those nights. I tossed and turned and replayed every scenario of everything going on in my life up to the current moment. Work has been pretty challenging for the last several weeks. Things have been extremely busy, and there are a few people that I have felt I am constantly walking on egg shells around. Trying to manage this with my need to make everyone happy is exhausting. I deal with the stress with a smile on my face and try very hard to not let anyone see behind the façade.

I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but I tend to refer to it as high-functioning anxiety despite the fact that it is not an officially recognized diagnosis. For me it is just a better description of my personal experience. Sometimes people mistakenly assume that someone with anxiety tucks themselves away hiding from the world outside, and this may be the case for some people, but my experience has been very different. For me it has more to do with my endless pursuit of perfection. The carefully constructed image of myself that I want to convey to others in order to hide my insecurities and imperfections.

I have an endless array of hobbies, volunteer work, achievements and pursuits. Many of these things do bring me joy and fulfillment. But there is also my need to be busy, to fill my time so that I can stay out of my own head.  There is also my embarrassing nervous laughter. Laughing to fill the space in a conversation, when maybe I am feeling insecure. Other times it is my shortness with someone caused by how overwhelmed I am feeling at that moment. Different things trigger this for me and I am aware of what those triggers are, but every once in a while the wave of anxiety still pours over me.

Most people (outside of those who read my blog, and those very close to me) would never realize that I am constantly at battle with my own mind. This is significantly better – I do take medication, practice yoga and breathing techniques nightly and try to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. But occasionally nights like last night sneak up on me and suck me into that black hole of my mind, with the endless gravitational pull of my incessant thoughts.

It’s often hard to remember but if you are coping with an anxiety disorder, realize that you’re not alone. Often those you may least expect may be dealing with similar issues. Anxiety isn’t a stereotype, it looks different on some people than it does on others. Exercise and breathing techniques work, talking to someone is even better, self care is a necessity.

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Women 1

How my Friendships with Women Inspire Me

Happy Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and I wanted to write a post about my relationships with other women and how these friendships impact my life. We all have our different types of friends; some are old or new, some are thoughtful, some are the life of the party and always providing the laughs, while others are no-nonsense, “tell it like it is” companions. All of these various women in my life help give me confidence, support, and even sometimes a shoulder to cry on.

First, I have to say I have been blessed to have always been surrounded by strong women, starting day one with my mother. Growing up she always pushed us to try our hardest, but also gave us love and comfort when we needed it. She set an example for hard work when she not only worked full time as an RN raising two kids, but also went back to school to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Then, I had my grandmothers who both raised kids and took care of husbands. I have been fortunate to have close relationships with both of my grandmothers, and their loving advice is worth more than gold. The lessons I have learned from these women I carry with me daily.

I also grew up with a younger sister, Emily (yes – my poor Dad had to endure a house full of women). Though we fought a lot growing up, as sisters often do, we have a great relationship as adults. My sister has been there for me through many ups and downs and she is one of those people I know I can always call. Lord knows, she’s had to listen to me cry about more breakups than I would care to admit, but I know she always has my back.

I have always had wonderful friendships with other women (I don’t get the whole – I’m not a “girl’s girl” thing, and frankly think it is stupid). In my hometown, I have friends I love that I have known for years, and since moving to Louisville I have gained a whole new group of friends. All of these women inspire me with their goals, hobbies, careers, community involvement, bad ass parenting skills, and many of them seemingly able to juggle it all. These friends give me career advice, push me to be more involved, give me pep-talks before Bumble dates (LOL – true though), and most importantly they show me what I am capable of through their own achievements. Seeing women further in along in their careers kicking ass, or being an awesome mom raising an actual human being (I’ll stick to my dog for now because you know… training wheels), these things are inspiring to me. These things show me what is possible.

So cheers to all you bad ass women from the past to present! Thank you for your support, drive, dedication, and most of all your inspiration.