I thought I would write a post in the midst of what I like to call “random and uncalled for anxiety”.
I’m sure you have seen this on the internet. Memes can be freakishly accurate.
This morning I woke up thankful that it was finally Friday. It hasn’t really been a rough week or anything. In fact, this has been a relatively low stress week. I have had a few small obsessions pop up, but with the help of my friends and my husband, I have been able to choose the opposite of what OCD wants me to do. So this morning, I woke up, excited that it was finally Friday. I get to spend a lot of time with my horses today, and I always look forward to that. And this weekend I don’t have a lot of plans, so hopefully it will be relaxing. When I got out of bed and began making my coffee, this weird anxiety hit me. I began feeling really anxious and my stomach started hurting. My brain immediately went into problem solving mode. “What is wrong? Something is not right. We have to find out what is making us feel this way!!! Now!!!!” It caught me so off-guard (which is a good way to live by the way. Anxiety wants us to live in that guarded place, searching for trouble), that my knee-jerk reaction was to resist it. I tried to push it out of my mind and emotions and box it up. My OCD loves this. It immediately began to try to “wall off” anxiety triggering thoughts.
Wait a second. This is exactly what reinforces the cycle.
“Stop that!” I told my brain. I began trying to welcome in anxiety and just allow it to float around. My brain started panicking. “We need an obsession to attach to!!! How about fear of vomiting?” Breakfast was not all that pleasant, but I refused to give into the compulsion of only eating a small amount due to fear of throwing up.
I texted my friend Ashley right after this describing my weird anxiety that just came out of nowhere. We decided that our brains prefer to live in that anxious state because that is what it has been used to for so long. It is more comfortable for it. If that makes any sense at all. The good news is that if Ashley and I had to survive in the wild, we would probably outlast most people. Our brains are hard-wired for fight-or-flight survival instincts. Not really all that helpful for living in the real world though.
As I drove to work, my brain started jumping around to different scenarios to attach to. What happens when you have children? Will you be able to deal with this? What happens if your husband dies suddenly and you are alone? What happens when you get old? Will you be able to cope with health problems on top of OCD? What if you have major surgery? Will they need to tranquilize you before they even give you anesthesia? I am starting to smile as I type this. It’s so ridiculous! So in the parking lot, I thanked my brain for its concern, but told it I don’t need it to protect me right now. I’m still trying to accept my anxiety and allow any thoughts to come on in. I’m trying to practice and not resist thoughts. It is really hard though.
I am trying to remind myself of something my therapist told me. She said that the highest levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) are released in the mornings and evenings. She said sometimes she gets random anxiety and it can be purely a chemical thing. No trigger necessary. Sometimes our brains and bodies do not have to have a reason to be anxious. It is purely a physical thing.
And that is okay.
I heard on a podcast recently on http://www.theocdstories.com that we need to remember what is inside our control and what is outside of our control. We can choose not to do compulsions. We cannot choose to not feel anxiety. Chemicals are responsible for that. So today I am going to try to focus on not giving into compulsions and allow my anxiety to hang around.
What are some things you tell yourself when random anxiety hits?