Tag Archives: Anxiety

Is it Really Anxiety?

Growing up, I knew there was something wrong with me, but I didn’t know what. Only that I was tense and unhappy most of the time.

My mother had died when I was 2. My father remarried, but my stepmother showed me no affection. There were 9 of us children by the time I was 12. To many this might seem like a dream come true, but for me it was extremely painful.

To protect myself I spent as much time alone in my room with my hobbies or outside as I was allowed. I was deemed unsociable, selfish because I rarely joined in and was often teased unmercifully by the other children. Through all of this, my father was there for me. He was loving and kind, supporting and encouraging me emotionally and in the activities I was involved in.

I didn’t do as well as was expected of me in school. My full brother and sister were both high school valedictorians. And though I had girlfriends, I never dated.

My first college experience wasn’t any better. My father had died the summer before I started classes. I went from living in the country near a town of only 1500 people to a college campus of over 15.000 students from all over the world. After 3 semesters at Washington State University I had a nervous breakdown and hitchhiked 90 miles to my sister’s in Spokane.

In my 30’s I was diagnosed with depsession and anxiety. When my youngest entered school, I enrolled in Spokane Community College. This time I was armed with meds for both conditions. The program I had chosen would hopefully lead me to the career I wanted to pursue. I graduated with an Associates degree and a GPA of 3.8. I still wonder if it was my commitment, the medications, or merely the power of suggestion that got me through those two years, where before, just the thought of entering a classroom full of strangers put me in a mental and emotional stranglehold.

I have developed several mechanisms to avoid being overwhelmed by too much sensory input such as noise, people, and possessions. The first is minimalism- keeping my home, obligations, and activities simple and uncluttered. This is a rather simplified version of what is involved. There are many options for more in-depth articles on minimalism on the web and in the bloggiing community.

Another is avoiding situations that cause anxiety for me such as many public places and events. I do my shopping in the early hours or later at night. Even small groups of people such as a knitting circle, product party or group therapy are very uncomfortable for me. This is social anxiety. I have undergone counseling for this with no results. Honestly, I enjoy my own company and have no desire to be “cured” of this perceived character flaw.

Mindfulness meditation calms the body and mind and allows the subconscious to receive solutions to the questions and problems we seek to understand. This could manifest itself in the form of a person we might meet, an article or blog post we read, or a book we are led to.

I recently came across a a book titled “Highly Intuitive People” which was recommended by Amazon Kindle based on my previous reading choices. The author also talked about “sensitives”, which I immediately identified with. This was the explanation I had been waiting for most of my life.

If you, too are a sensitive, it is something you were born with and will need to learn to live with. You can embrace it or merely tolerate it, but you cannot change it. Either way, you must treat yourself with kindness and forgiveness. This means you no longer judge or condemn yourself for being “flawed.”

The book also suggests ways to deal with this part of your nature and make it work for you. The journey is yours to pursue. May you enjoy it with all your heart!

Less is More

Minimalism is about unburdening your life from unnecessary possessions, obligations, and distractions.

But it’s about much more than that. It’s about freeing up space and time for the really important things.

Clear your clutter, clear your mind. We’ve all heard that before, in one form or another. But it works. (I’ve done it. More than once.) Not only for your mind and your space, but for your time and your finances as well.

Your excess “stuff” requires a much larger investment in money, time, commitment and peace of mind than you may realize. I’ve been practicing simplicity for some years now, but for me it’s a question of survival.

Growing up, I always felt that something was wrong with me, but I didn’t know what. Only that I was tense, restless, and unhappy 90% of the time.

Growing up in a family of nine children was extremely painful for me. To protect myself, I spent as much time in my room with my books and hobbies, or outside with my animals as I was allowed. I didn’t do as well in high school as I could have (my full brother and sister were both valedictorians), and though I had girlfriends, I never dated. I was always my own best friend.

When I left home and began a life of my own, I began to see that too many people, too much noise, too many obligations and too much clutter would trigger feelings of anxiety in me and block my creative voice.

Wanting to do more, to know more, to be better allowed my activities and commitments to snowball until I was overwhelmed and something had to give.

Practicing minimalism is work, sifting through each area of one’s life until the dross is separated from what’s necessary and important. But what is gained in the process is invaluable.

Our Cookie Cutter Society

On the drive into Twin Falls yesterday, my mind was at rest, simply taking in all the images that passed my window.

As I live 5 miles away in Kimberly, the first few miles we passed were lush with crops- corn, potatoes, sugar beets, alfalfa and newly harvested wheat and oat fields. Between the fielids were homes, some with horses in corrals and RVs in the driveways.

Soon the view changed. As we entered the outskirts of TF, businesses began to pop up. Farm equipment and truck sales lots were prominate here with related shops interspersed between them.

We passed the Chobani plant, the largest yoghurt producer in the world.

Soon the view changed to a mix of independent businesses among neat, landscaped neighborhoods and schools. One of the first things I noticed about Twin Falls was the amount and variety of planted trees.

Then came the dedicated commercial area, packed with big box stores, chain gas stations and fast food places, car sales and cell phone stores.

As I awaited my appointment at the modern St Luke’s Magic Valley Hospital and Medical Center, all of these images and impressions began to form a conclusion in my mind.

While Twin Falls was unique in many ways; the area was truly blessed by it’s agricultural economy with abundance and a 3% unemployment rate, it is just like every other American city in many ways. I have noticed there are 3 ways that are the most prominent.

The first is that 98% of every new or fairly new vehicle on the road is painted one of 5 colors, red, white, blue, black, or gray, with a few gold ones thrown in. This is due to the fact that this is all most new car dealers carry, and to the economic abundance of the area.

The second is the sheer volume of fast food franchises, and the third and most disturbing is the rarity of seeing someone who isn’t staring at or talking into a cell phone.

“…mindfulness, is actually a practice rather than merely a good idea or a clever clinical technique.

It is thousands of years old. It’s essence, being about attention and awareness, is universal.”

Jon Sabot Zinn , in the introduction to “Mindfulness, finding peace in a frantic world” by Mark Williams and Danny Perman.

I have told others “I never get bored” most of my life, when in actuality what I do is divert my attention to one or more of my many interests. This may be responding to emails, reading on Kindle or a printed book, watching a movie or TV show while knitting, checking my to-do list items off or creating new ones, etc.

On the outside, it may appear that I’ve conquered my lifelong anxiety, but nothing could be further from the truth. When I took an honest inventory of my thoughts and behavior, I was stunned to discover how many of these were rooted in anxiety.

In the first chapter of “Mindfulness”, these is an exerpt on performing a “one minute meditation”. Surely I could quiet my thoughts that long.

Mindfulness, I realize, must be practiced on a regular basis. You must desire the peace and clarity it brings. But once you experience it, you won’t be satisfied with anything less.