Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Owning my Anxiety: A Small Victory

Stijlfoto on Flickr, via Creative Commons license.
Today I just wanted to share a little about a recent experience of mine. You might have read my earlier post about my depression; anxiety is also something that I struggle with, and have been struggling with since I was a teenager.

I approached a woman a few months ago about helping her with a project that she'd already been doing that really spoke to my heart. At first, I was raring to go, truly excited and on fire for the potential the project had.

Then I got anxious about a task of mine that I had taken upon myself to do. It was a small task, but for some reason it loomed larger and larger in my mind until it wasn't a simple task, it was a burden.

And I let that anxious feeling get the best of me.

Basically, I dropped off this woman's radar for a couple of months. I thought about that project, worried about it, hemmed and hawed over it.

Finally, I just got tired of being so anxious. I thought, "This anxiety is unreasonable, and I know it. And holding on to it is so not worth what it would feel like if I just at least tried to do this task that is, after all, not that scary in reality."

So I didn't let myself think about it anymore. Because I have a tendency to overthink everything, as was true in this case. I just opened the file I was supposed to look at. And I got to work.

It felt great.

I was focused, I had a purpose. Not 5 minutes into the task, I wondered why I had been so scared of tackling it in the first place. I finished it in about an hour, and then I e-mailed the woman I had been working with.

In that e-mail, I owned my anxiety.

Not that it was easy. It was not. I felt shame and remorse not only about leaving the woman hanging for so long, but also about my anxiety and depression. But I decided to 'fess up anyway. I did not make any excuses. I did not try to sugar-coat things... basically, I did my best to apologize sincerely.

And I told her the truth.

I just sent that e-mail, but already I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I realize that I'd been hanging on to my anxiety, in a way. I had become complacent with my anxiety, feeling that it was better to know this constant burden rather than strive into unknown territory to try and right it.

I'm not saying that now I know how it will be next time and I can definitely overcome the anxiety when it strikes next. Because I've lived with this long enough to know that such things are not at all a guarantee when it comes to this.

Still, now I have this feeling of renewal from being truthful and honoring the disservice I did to the woman in dropping off her radar without an explanation.

No matter how it turns out now, I know I did my best and I was sincere.

What about you? I'd love to hear about a recent victory of yours, however small or large.

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