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Anxiety, the cloaked adversary

This is about me, my faults and my flaws. I have no interest in posting a raw photo of me without makeup, even thinking about it makes me uncomfortable.  I am interested in telling you about my problem skin and other anxieties.

I think it might surprise some people who know me to hear me talk about having anxiety, but that might just be part of the narrative is contributing to the levels of anxiety that society sustains right now.  We all assume those who are moving forward, leading productive/busy, and have curated social media pages must be happy, whole humans.  As much as we read and are told to know otherwise we forget, click, get distracted and...

What was I saying? Oh yeah, we all have it: anxiety.  It's a spectrum and a slippery slope.  Anxiety is a tricky vixen. She lingers long after you think she's gone and she slips in between your bed sheets with you as you tuck in for the night.... She doesn't need invitiation but rather requires a fence to keep out.  A well maintained fence.
 

Any teeth grinders or clenchers out there? 

Yep, anxiety.  Throw a mouth guard in there, should be fine.  When you blow through that one come back and spend another couple hundred dollars on the next one.  We've got your back, we gotta protect those teeth.

What about the mind that has manifested this problem in the first place??

Why aren't we looking more into the source of these types of problems. I think it's an oversight that deserves examination. Is this problem solely physiological or possibly a sign of psychological distress?  For those of you who think that there is no need to examine a problem that is easily solved with the band aid method, I'm going to tell you this: 

I'd rather spend my time writing blog posts about things that I find irritating, interesting, or that require further investigation.  If you'd rather watch t.v., be my guest. Not literally of course though, I don't own a t.v., go do it somewhere else.

I don't WANT to put a mouth guard in at night because I think that I should be able to overcome this but, avoidance is easier for now so give me that mouth guard!  I go to sleep at night and try to make a conscious effort to relax physically. I roll my shoulders back so they aren't rounded and I resume the position that I liken to a corpse in a coffin.  Stillness right? Isn't that what we're supposed to aim for?  

I've actually slept like that since I was a child. Not surprisingly..... due to anxiety.  

A ceaseless line of questioning from a child with insatiable curiosity,  my poor mother.  Anyway, one day I asked her how she got those veins in her legs. "Poor circulation."  Another day it occurred to me to inquire if keeping my legs or arms bent would cut off my circulation. "A little bit, why?"

Because from now until forever more I will sleep like I have rigor mortis to avoid spider veins in my legs.

I was the favorite sibling to share a bed with on family trips.  Again, no one would guess that it was anxiety that kept me so still at night.  I was just a happy-go-lucky gangly creature that produced excessive noise and chatter during the day.  Really, honestly I was, and am a happy kid.  It's not that.  I think it's important to normalize anxiety, at least to the point where it isn't dismissed as "weakness."  It prevents so many otherwise talented people with good intentions from doing things that they would otherwise enjoy.... That little voice (anxiety) is so persistently pessimistic. 

Nail biter?

Yep, but I got wise and mine went underground (metaphorically of course).  After almost 2 decades of being yelled at to get my fingers out of my mouth by my mother, something shifted.  I think I became aware of other people's perception of my problem.  

At my worst point, as a nail biter, I wasn't satisfied with chewing to the point they were jagged and tender.  I needed more.... flesh. It was so bad that when the nail was gone, I'd go for the skin.  A lot of skin.  

I practically chewed half the finger print off on my thumbs.  It hurt to hold things; pencils, my violin, but I didn't stop.  

Today I have it mostly beat, occasionally I catch my fingers in mouth, but as soon as I become aware I can stop.  It seems like I'm just chasing these demons around my body though.  Instead of going for my fingers now, most of the time I go for something more convenient & discreet: cheek and lip flesh.  I was shamed by my dentist about this a few years ago during a cleaning appointment.  Like come on lady, I can't be the ONLY one with this problem! @#$!

I have changed dentists since then, but we're still just treating the symptom: enamel wear from clenching.  I don't expect more from a dentist, this kind of thing is outta their league.  I do think that there should be a more comprehensive approach to these problems.  We are pretty terrible currently as a culture in terms of comfort levels talking about mental health. Asking questions is out of the question it seems.

I've always leaned in to self-improvement and seeking a better life, but more recently I'm shifting focus from symptoms to causes.  This is so challenging because like I said anxiety is a full of trickery.  Self-deception is the name of the game.  For me it starts with persuading other people.  I hear myself saying something that I'm not yet convinced of, but with a confident delivery I'm able to sell it to most any audience.  Even better if they are impressed by whatever concocted logic I throw their way.  Then it's incorporated in my self-image and becomes and accepted belief.  You do this too! 

I used to not even come down to breakfast without full foundation when I was in in high school.

It wasn't until recent years that I've allowed myself out of the house without make up on.  I also have a skin problem related to my anxiety.  I pick, and pick... for upwards of an hour at times. Always before bed.  It's slightly better when I'm in a relationship, mostly because I don't want them to know... but it's still there.  I'm beginning to understand that the root of this as a deeper sense of inadequacy... I constantly fight this.  I know logically I'm enough and do enough, but it's something that I will have to vigilantly remind myself of with daily affirmations.

It's time to stop putting band aids on bruises.  Walk with me....

 

Amy KrahnComment