reverie v. reality

hitting snooze on anxiety

I've had chronic hives for almost ten years now. The severity comes and goes, depending on my level of stress, sleep, and general health, but they're always there under the surface.

I, obviously, loathe them, but they do give me a look into my psyche. Sometimes I won't even really realize I'm stressed about something until I wake up with my lips and eyes swollen or my legs and arms covered in raised welts.

It's usually nothing some Benadryl can't fix (I haven't had to go in for a shot to calm them down in years) but it can be incredibly frustrating when I have to go in to work with my face puffy from a reaction or when I try to go out on a calming jog and find that the higher my body temperature goes from the workout, the more my entire skin feels like it's crawling.

I don't mean to complain. I know intermittent hives are small potatoes compared to other things; it's just, I woke up last week with my eyes slowly swelling shut and when I texted my friends about it, one of them asked if I was stressed out about anything currently. I sat there for awhile and thought about if there was anything I wasn't fully aware of being stressed about and, well, I think the answer was yes. (I was pretty worried about a change at work and also a friend issue.)

The problem is that I'm always a given level of stressed out, so sometimes when new stressors populate, I don't really notice them. This should be a good thing ("Wow! I didn't even notice I was stressed about this!") but my body keeps count, regardless.

Sometimes I think I would really benefit from regular meditation or something that forces me to face the things I'm stressed about, because (upon reflection) I realize that maybe I'm pretty terrible about just sweeping worries under the rug for another day. I walk around all day thinking, "Ah, well, I'm obviously not worried about that right now, because it's another day's problem!" but I can still see the ever-growing lump in the middle of my mental living room and it catches in the corner of my eye every time I pass through in search of something else.

I'm never actually addressing the source of the anxiety, just postponing it; just hitting the snooze button, which is then a new wellspring of nerves in and of itself! Like, I should know by now what snoozing my regular morning alarm does to my easily-overwhelmed brain, let alone snoozing a mental alarm. I'm just setting myself up for panicked, last-minute chaos. What's that about?

It doesn't help that I make molehills into jagged, stormy mountains. I'm not all that great at outlining how long something will take - things I think might be a five-minute undertaking end up consuming two hours; something I fully believe will eat up three hours barely brushes the line of thirty minutes. It's hard to trust my own sense of time, in many cases, and it's oh so easy to shelve something for later - the only problem being that, of course, those things come back after a time and very often, they arrive in some kind of sick, evil avalanche.

Ah, I'm having a realization: the avalanche is part of why I think tasks take so long. Is that right? It has to be, because having to tackle six tasks under duress and also a smothering layer of anxiety means I am probably not operating at my best and brightest. Or - at the very least - any task I get done in the avalanche period is then associated with that panicked feeling & therefore I dread it again the next time it arrives.

(...Y'know, sometimes just writing down everything really does help me reach a conclusion. Not always, but enough that it helps.)

I had therapy again last week. I hadn't gone since December. I've been feeling overwhelmed in very vague and mutable ways which I haven't been sure how to address, so it was really lovely to get to run some thoughts past my therapist and talk through solutions on how to try to gain control back.

To my complete lack of surprise, several of the solutions given were...(drum roll, deep sigh) guessed it: getting some of the finite tasks that I'm worried about out of the way. I'm truly my own worst enemy 99% of the time, you know what I mean? But I really have been trying and I do feel better for it; a little of the weight on my chest lifting with each checkmark I make.

Now I just need to keep up the momentum and really lean in on the idea of a little spring cleaning in the cluttered halls of my mind.

Good luck out there,

#personal #reveries