Not Sad All the Time

…sometimes I am anxious instead!

I’m super sensitive to whether I am creeping toward problem-anxiety or if an event or change just has me at a heightened level of otherwise normal-Elizabeth worrying. My regular worrying/low-level anxiety flares for relatively simple reasons: change of routine; too much caffeine; watching the news, especially now; thunderstorms/fireworks/any loud, unexpected noise, really; driving with other cars on the road; big social activities; and not enough rest.

These things (and, let’s be honest, probably more that I can’t think of to list) all throw me out of balance, cause racing thoughts, and disrupt my so-called sleep “schedule.” (Ha. Ha. Hahahaha. That maniacal laughter will be echoed by anyone who has above average anxiety. Sleep schedules are pegasus unicorns covered with fairy dust, cruising around next their flying pig friends.)

Still, these problems are predictable or explainable. If I feel nervous, jittery, or just a bit “off,” I look back at the last couple days to see if I recognize any of my common triggers and it’s usually there. Extra rest, quiet time, and good nutrition help bring me back.

This level of self-awareness and self-care developed over the last year or so. Previous to that I could not identify the problem, let alone know how to make it better. My anxiety would then feed the depression and the two would get so tangled and confused that separating those feelings became impossible. In the past, this led to very destructive patterns and behaviors.

I just realized: I basically had to learn how to do this in steps. First, I finally got help in my most desperate moment and treated the acute stages of depression when staying alive was really, really hard. That was my ladder out of the a hole. Second was learning how to grab the edge of that hole before I fell in it, even by a fingertip. Now I can maybe see a few steps in front of me, almost enough time to walk around the hole. (Forgive the metaphor; this is why I don’t write fiction.) I really hadn’t noticed that logical progression until I started writing this.

Mental health is ever-evolving. Like your physical health, you can be good at some things and less good at other things. You need to work really hard to stay healthy, and your version of “really hard” can be different from anyone else.