Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Phobia Workshop Sketch

My Dad sent this to me and it's really cute!

However, this sketch has had me thinking about the stereotype of someone with an anxiety disorder. Most of the people I know with anxiety and panic are outgoing, empathic, bright people. They aren't actually afraid of things like driving, elevators or public speaking. Those are just the situations where they have experienced a panic attack before and conditioning has quickly set in. They're afraid that when panic shows up, it will be so intense that something catastrophic will occur like death or insanity. That's how intense these thoughts and sensations can be.

My husband once suggested that I write a post about all the things that don't create anxiety for me (or that are important enough to do anyways), so here are a few: I've given birth naturally three times - twice at home; I like to rock climb; I've run a marathon and completed a handful of triathlons (2 in open water); Riding on the back of a motorcycle is big fun to me; I like to get past small talk and really connect with people; I teach childbirth classes; I spent a year living on top of a mountain taking kids through caves, behind waterfalls and on long hikes; I can ask the hard questions and sit with other peoples pain; I've talked to my older girls about sex; I have attended about 20 births as a doula.

So, while this is really cute, it's important to remember that anxiety is just one piece of what makes you who you are. Or, as a friend says, "Anxiety is just the Side B to being a highly passionate, creative and empathic person. I wouldn't give one side up for the other."

I'd love to hear what defines you outside of your anxiety!


Meredith said...

Great post. I think those of us with anxiety are hardest on ourselves. We always tend to focus on the fact that we have anxiety and not all of the other things that make us who we are. I tend to look at myself as "flawed" for having it in the first place, while people from the outside don't even see that I am any different unless I tell them. I think that is where the acceptance part comes in for me. I am working really hard to not "fight" the anxious feelings and get so upset over having them. I think if I can stop beating myself up about it maybe that will help me get rid of that last 1 percent! Kristen- you have really done some amazing things!!! I really want to run my first 10K but having trouble training due to the two little ones. I hate running with a jogging stroller! ha ha : )

Anxiety Girl said...

Hi Meredith! I agree, that acceptance piece is so hard for me, too. The moments where I feel super anxious and can experience them without internal commentary/criticism are so much easier. But, when I tell myself a story that "this is never going to go away - I'll always feel this way - why won't it go away" - that's when I feel lingering effects of anxiety/panic for days. I think of those times like an "anxiety hangover".

So, I would love to hear what defines you outside of your anxiety! :)

And, the marathon was when I was a young 24 yrs. & it took me & a friend 5.5 hours. Oprah beat us that year! My friend made us turtle shirts that read "slow and steady wins the race" - very appropriate!

Meredith said...

I hate that anxiety hangover feeling. I know exactly what you mean! I think it is great that you ran that marathon! I think it doesn't matter how long it took because you did it!

As for what defines me outside of anxiety.... hmmmm... it is so hard to talk about yourself! I have always had a lot of friends and people would definitely describe me as outgoing, although I myself feel like a lot of my anxiety is social! I was a communications/english major in college, and after college my job required me to do a lot of presentations and public speaking. I did all of this with my anxiety! I have always been artistic. I knit and sew and always have some kind of project going on. My latest was installing a glass mosaic tile backsplash in our kitchen by myself! My biggest accomplishment is definitely my two little ones. For the past 4 years I have been a stay at home Mom and it has been wonderful watching them learn and grow!

Meredith said...

Thanks Kristen! Knitting is very relaxing for me! It is hard to find time until the little ones go to bed though. Maybe I will find the time to start a blog someday! It has been so great talking to you and reading your blog. It is really helping me work on my anxiety, and it is nice to talk to someone who is in the same boat as me! : )