Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sneaky anxiety

CW:  Mental health and anxiety

The problem with generalized anxiety is that it can be so insidious.  It's not a single thing, at least not in my case.  It's a little spike of inappropriate fear, an obtrusive thought while driving, a little tightening of the chest when checking email.  When you've lived with it for a long time it becomes normal.  It's fascinating to me to talk to people that don't have generalized anxiety and realize that opening my email at work should, in fact, be a non-issue.  Huh.  Who knew?

Like most people I know, my generalized anxiety gets better and worse. Often things are good and I barely notice.  It's just how I am.  I prefer to not take medication most of the time due to the charming side effects and that's fine.  I'm the picture of high functioning and I've been taught lots of coping strategies.  Running and horses are really good for anxiety and accompanying insomnia. 

Then something happens and things are not okay.  I'm guessing this time it was the stress of the holidays, year end deploys at work, and my trip home to Minnesota that set me off.  I got back with a bad upper respiratory infection that kept me at home for awhile.  When I went back out into the world, I was freaked about everything.  Seriously, every little thing.  Every time I drove my new car I would swear I could hear something wrong with the engine and I'd spend my drive with the music off, trying to find that noise.  But I didn't notice that I was unusually anxious.

Problem is that when you're always freaked out about everything, it doesn't register as something being wrong!  It wasn't until my hubby noticed me reaching for something with a shaking hand that he raised the red flag.  I shouldn't be shaking just sitting in my living room.

Long story short, I'm on medication until further notice.

Why is this on my equestrian blog?  Couple reasons.  One, this has a major impact on Theo.  I have to imagine some of my avoidance of the barn is related to my anxiety about getting hurt.  Logically I know I can ride absolutely anything that horse throws at me but in the moment, I am out of scale terrified.  He's not even trying to unload me, it's just protest bucks.  I should be mildly annoyed, not looking to dismount.  It's also hard on Theo when I'm riding scared since I am less consistent and he feeds off of my emotional state.  There's a reason he's been so nervous in the 'spooky' end of the ring.  Because I've been tensing and waiting for the spin.

What are you spooking at, mom?

Two, visibility.  I don't see my anxiety as something to hide.  I have a chemical imbalance that sometimes gets away from me and I need to take medication to get things back in place.  Some folks need their medication every day, some are like me and don't always need it.  It's all very individual, just like most things we choose for ourselves.  I know other equestrians have similar battles to fight.  Just putting it out there that I'm fighting it too and how it's going for me.

And how is it going?  Better.  I didn't notice how tense I was until it started to ease.  It's crazy how quickly people can normalize something.  I signed up to ride Theo in a jumping clinic so that's a good sign.  And I'm most of the way through the email backlog I let build up.  I'll just keep plugging along, pay more attention to my stress levels, and give myself all the support I need.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I have a very similar anxiety issue and have not heard someone else explain it the same. It makes me sigh with relief that someone else knows that chest-tightening feeling, the obtrusive thoughts, etc. I'm glad you are doing better with some medication - it is nice to have that option when needed for some extra support.

  2. You explained these feelings in a way I haven't been able to put into words. I love how you mentioned that it can get so good that you don't even notice it! And other times the *tiniest* thing can set you off. I hope your anxiety improves! Meds can make a big difference when you need them!

  3. Ty, for sharing- it is helpful to see that we are not alone ❤