Letting Go of Expectations

From hectic life in the USA to island life as a stay-at-home-wife, this blog follows the musings of an anxious Type-A as she learns to slow down and tune in to the important things in life


The Ebb and Flow of Mental Illness, Part 2

I didn’t anticipate this being a two-part post, but it seems fitting that since I wrote the first part during a high point in my anxiety, that I should touch on the topic again now that the high point has passed.

I knew that this was going to happen, but somehow I was still surprised and disappointed. After a few weeks of being incredibly productive, making phone calls like a champ, and doing scary things on my own without a feeling of impending doom, the sense of confidence and ease slowly started to dissipate.

I once again began to feel that familiar sense of disquieting, quick heart rate for no discernible reason. Things are once again getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list because I haven’t been able to work myself up to doing them yet.

I am distracted. I feel like I can’t do the things that I want to do because there isn’t time. There must be something else that I should be doing, even if I can’t think of it. I spend a lot of time staring at my to-do list and re-organizing it.

Instead of feeling happy and connected to people after a conversation, I sometimes try to avoid social encounters altogether. The gardener at our apartment is the nicest person ever, but occasionally I find myself walking quickly from the car to the apartment, all the time hoping that he won’t talk to me.

The past few days, I have been obsessing over a number of social encounters that I have had recently. My anxiety keeps telling me that I said something weird, or stupid and that the people that I said them to probably do not want to talk to me anymore.

As Husband and I were lying in bed reading the other night, my brain suddenly decided that we were going to get worked up wondering if the front door was locked or not. Husband and I always lock the door. The rational part of me knew that it was locked. It didn’t matter.

Unable to tamp down the wave of anxiety on my own, I asked Husband if the front door was locked. He said that it was. I felt a little better, but I secretly went and checked a little while later. The door was locked.

One of the most frustrating facets of my anxiety also made an appearance recently. Some part of my mind latched onto an idea of how the day was going to go, without the knowledge or consent of the rest of me. Then, things changed. This small change of plans launched me into a sh***y mood for the rest of the day.

It wasn’t until later reflection that I realized what had happened. In the moment, I was just moody and angry. I didn’t know why I was in a bad mood, I didn’t know how to fix it, and I was frustrated with myself for being unable to fix it. Husband, who unfailingly will take action to make anything better, was also frustrated because he wanted to help but neither of us knew what to do.

Looking back, it is obvious to me that the slight change in plans is what threw me into a bad mood. It doesn’t happen every time something changes, but this has happened before, more than once. Sometimes, I feel a lot of security in being in control of what I am doing. When I am in that place and things don’t go how I expected them to, it can trigger this negative emotional reaction.

Needless to say, this stuff has not been a ton of fun to experience. It never is. I keep trying to find the silver lining in all of this, though.

One good thing is that, even though I’m experiencing a low point with my anxiety right now, the high point that I just left was one of the longest I’ve experienced before. As someone with a background in science, I know that one data point is not enough to say that there is a trend, but I can still hope that the next high point will be longer, too.

Another good thing is that I have an incredible support network of people that I can reach out to. When I was in my more social phase recently, I contacted a lot of people and I was reminded of just how awesome all the people in my life are. That feeling didn’t go away when anxiety decided to occupy a larger portion of my life again.

For better or worse, I know I’ll always be on this roller coaster of anxiety. Through the good and the less than good, I can always keep working toward better and trying to find the positive. At times like these, I feel comfort in repeating the famous words of Dori to myself.

Just keep swimming.

1 Comment

  1. First of all, kudos to you for opening up a very vulnerable, personal part of your life. I truly believe people who do not have, or haven’t experienced anxiety issues just can not understand how difficult anxiety is to live with. For example, friends will say in your case of a slight change of plans created a bad mood and bad day for you, oh it’s just your attitude. You can control that. Choose to be happy. Wrong. You and I know it doesn’t work that way. But the great news is you realize your illness, and accept it. That’s huge in itself. It took me a year or two just to realize what was actually wrong with me. Second, you are trying to find ways to curb the low spots, and increase the upper sections of the roller coaster. You are trying to manage it to the degrees you can. I am sure you have an inner circle of friends, and a great husband, but also include some friends that can relate with what you are going through. And you nailed it, keep swimming! You inspire me to keep swimming too!

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