living with anxiety

american crafts dear lizzy lizzie tim holtz distress paints radiant rain sprays fussy cutting fiskars scissors and paper trimmer


Honesty time.

I am currently living with and dealing with an anxiety disorder.

Now, those of you who grew up with me, have probably known that for years – it just took me a while to realize that it wasn’t just me being a first-born, Type A person…  it was something more.

6 years ago, it got really bad and I dealt with it then.  We moved, things settled down, and it seemed to pretty much “go away.”

What I have learned, however, is that it didn’t go away and I was just doing a good job of hiding it.  Over the last 18 months, I felt it beginning to well up in me again and as we dealt with Owen’s issues, I began to see so clearly that he is my kid (which I never denied – that apple did not far fall from the tree at all) and that if he was dealing with it and being so good about it, why wasn’t I?

So, here I am, entering 2014 with high hopes and dreams, but not being honest about every aspect.  Often we post the best stuff – the perfect pictures of the kids, the great finished project, that amazing outfit…  but we don’t post reality.  Once we post it and we put it out there, it becomes real.  If other people know, we can’t hide it or deny it.

I have slowly been telling my friends and have been open and honest with my family about it for years.  At this point, if I am going to be true to myself, I have to just put it out there into the universe and deal with it.

That said, here is a bit of what I deal with, so that you understand…

  • I need to have a routine.  When I don’t, I get stressed.
  • I need “space” where I can hibernate and recharge if I need to.  This means our bedroom needs to be cleaned up and organized, bed made, etc… If not, the mess gets me stressed.
  • I meditate everyday.
  • I try to do yoga everyday.
  • Listening to music helps.
  • Art is my therapy and the more time I am creative, the better I feel.
  • I am supposed to walk everyday.  I live in WI and it is cold outside.  Not doing so hot on that one.
  • In theory, I should be drinking sparingly (CHA was a timeout on that one…)
  • I am supposed to limit my caffeine and sugar intake.  Again, CHA and at least 1 x a week I lose that battle – big time.
  • I am supposed to be pretty much dairy free/lactose free. Living in WI isn’t fair on that one.

Most days I am fine and get along pretty good – you wouldn’t know if you didn’t know.

Other days, however, I will get massive heart palpitations.  If I don’t calm myself down from that in a timely fashion, I begin to itch and twitch.  Then it leads to agitation.  That leads to stomach issues (hence limited/no dairy intake) that I would rather not discuss.

Once I get through that, I am usually a puddle of a mess, rocking and crying.  It isn’t pretty.  I mean I UGLY cry.

The next day I am pretty reserved and quiet – because I am exhausted.

Luckily, for the most part it is manageable and I have been able to get my full blown panic attacks down to a minimum.

Now that you all now know this, we can all move on…  I just feel like I have been living with it for sooooo long and so few knew about it that it was this bad secret I was hiding.  In reality, it is just part of what makes me, well “me”.  It is time for me to embrace all of who I am in order to lead an authentic and creative life this year.

Thanks for letting me share…  I feel like a weight has been lifted that I have been carrying around my entire life.

Now, onto craftier and more creative endeavors.


living with anxiety — 32 Comments

  1. I deal with this too. I’m glad you were able to write about it. I like how you listed the things that help you. I should do that. My life has been in a major upheaval for the past 2 full years. Completely stressed and constant anxiety attacks. I try to just deal with them, but it makes me feel more stressed and more anxious. I just keep hoping something will get better soon! Thanks for sharing what you’re going thru. Hope it all gets better for you as well. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing. Anxiety is not fun, and people who don’t have it, really can’t imagine what it is like. There are good days and bad days, for me – any day that doesn’t end with an ER visit to make sure it is anxiety and not a heart attack, is a good day.

  3. *hugs* Thanks for sharing! I have dealt with panic attacks (mine would happen while I was driving) for a LONG time. Thankfully over the last few years that have started to go away and I can actually feel them coming on now and sometimes stop them.

  4. You are such a special person to pull the bandaid off. I wish I had the courage to do it, but people expect me to be happy and so I do my best to put that person out there. Only at home can I be myself totally. Reading you blog has made me wonder what happens if I pull that bandaid off. I have been holding myself together since Aug 15, 1996 when the surgeon changed my life forever.

  5. I swear, you and I are sisters. I too have anxiety. At points it has been crippling. I take medication. I am not ashamed of it, it is simply a part of who I am. It helps make my life and my family’s life better. It helps me leave the house some days. I too thrive on routine, quiet, and order. I am an introvert and shy. Sometimes I muster up the strength to pretend that I am not. Sometimes I fail at pretending and people think I am rude and unfriendly. My sweet baby daughter struggles just like me. I cry knowing what she is dealing with and not being able to make it better for her, to not be able to fix it. Most of what you said describes me (except for that exercise nonsense!). What I think I have learned is that there are more of us who struggle than don’t. Most of us just hide it well (or not so well in my case). I have found that by not hiding it and just being real and open, that I am among friends who understand and share the same burdens as me. We are all just doing our best to survive each day relatively intact. We have strength together. I love you dearly my friend. (hugs)

  6. Thank you for saying this. I have a 13 with many issues like this. She thinks she is the only one. This helps those of us that deal with it everyday.

  7. Hugs, woman! I get it too, with the IBS and waking up with my heart racing… sucks! Lain may be on to something – it might just be part of being creative. Thanks for being real 🙂

  8. Thank you for “putting yourself out there” and sharing. I have issues and I’m not quite ready to unload…Seeing some of those I respect sharing their issues, is somewhat helping me build up to the verbal therapy. Love you lots and pray for strength …. for anyone dealing with these struggles every day.

  9. I have some of those symptoms too. You’re not alone. Thanks for sharing!! xoxoxo

  10. What a relief it must be to put it out there! When something blindsides me, I find comfort in cleaning up and bringing order to my life. It’s my coping mechanism, so I fully understand that need to have the room straightened. When I’m surrounded by chaos, I feel chaos within. I’m thankful that it hasn’t affected me in the same manner it has you. Boo to no cheese and booze, but hooray for taking care of YOU! xoxo <3

  11. A dear crafty friend forwarded your post to me because I have also slowly began sharing my anxiety disorder with friends. I really do believe there is a creativity type connection as well. I am being treated for this and doctors have gently suggested that I give up dairy and caffeine. I never got it until I noticed after I drank caffeine the seemingly random heart palpitations would start (of course while I was driving or riding in a car) and the attacks would start. Thank you for having the courage to post this. It brings me some sense of comfort to know that there are others in the creative field that are dealing with this as well.

  12. I just wanted to pop on and tell you that i have had you on my mind for quite some time. You are amazing, courageous and strong and i am encouraged by your wise words! Miss you and hope to catch up with you soon. In the meantime i am sending you a hug!! Because i am a big fan of quotes…here is a favorite:……. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are – and aren’t – that you will truly succeed.

  13. Thank you Cheryl! I truly appreciate your comment and I hope we can catch up soon!

  14. Melony – The coffee thing has been the hardest – I love the stuff! It is something I think a lot of us creatives deal with… part of the territory I guess. Thank you for your sweet comment and I wish you all the best in your journey as well!

  15. Susan – Thank you. The chaos piece is so true! I am very much the same way… my family will attest to that! So good to see you and can’t wait to see you in Utah sometime this spring!

  16. Laura – You are strong and amazing… never doubt that. Wishing you all the best and sending lots and lots of love your way.

  17. Jennifer – The IBS is the freaking worst part! Since I cut out the dairy it has been better, but I love cheese curds and pizza and I live in WI for crying out loud! Hugs to you and know that we are all here for each other!

  18. She is totally not alone. My 9 year old deals with it, as do I. There are lots of us out there. My 9 year old attended a group for other kids that had it and that made a HUGE difference for him. Good luck and I am more than happy to talk with her – that is a rough age to deal with it at. I remember.

  19. Lain – I think it does to some extent. There are a lot of studies that link depression and anxiety to creativity and yet creating is also one of the key things that helps to manage it for a lot of people.

  20. Tammy – Just so you know – I am medicated too. I have tried just the list I provided – meditation, journaling, yoga, etc… by itself and that didn’t work. I have also tried medication by itself. That didn’t work either. What I have found is that I need a true holistic east meets west approach of everything, plus I take vitamin supplements and talk to someone off and on. It is not easy and it is really hard to watch your kids struggle. Owen did a group with other kids and it helped him so much to see he wasn’t alone. As an extrovert, we both are clearly in distress when we hide in our holes… We like to be loud and outgoing, so it is hard when we feel like we have to squirrel ourselves away. Just know we are in it together and if you ever need to chat, feel free to call me any time. If she would want to talk to Owen, he would love that too… Love you and hugs to you!

  21. Maxine – You are wonderful, amazing, strong, and awesome… no matter what. Know that you can be “you” around me anytime. Love you and I am sending you huge hugs and positive vibes!!!

  22. Meghan – thank you so much for your comments and for sharing. Just know you aren’t alone and I am happy to hear it has gotten better! Miss you and hope we can see each other soon!

  23. Donna… wow. I am so sorry that yours sends you to the ER. I would get so sick last time that I would be dehydrated and have to go myself. Know that I am thinking of you and that you are strong. Hugs and know that I am happy to chat any time you need to!

  24. Tracy – I understand how the upheaval can affect it all. Just know you are far from alone, as you can see from all of the comments here today, and that you will come out of it. Thank you for sharing and for leaving a comment.

  25. Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. I checked in to see the comments section because I found them to be hugely therapeutic to read. It amazes me that last week at this time I was mad at myself for having this disorder and ashamed as well. Because of your courage to post I am now encouraged that there are many others here right in our own industry who struggle with similar issues. Many who took the time to comment and share are people who I admire and respect. Thanks again

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