Saturday, October 12, 2013

Autumn and Anxiety

It's Autumn!

Thanks to a couple of cool days in mid-September, I was in the Fall spirit even before summer "officially" ended. In many ways, I oppose norms and like the idea of doing things in ways others are NOT doing them. But when it comes to Fall, I fully support pumpkin/squash mania. Although Fall has barely given us a proper hello, I've already infused my life with lots of squashies:

I've roasted some Delicata and Acorn Squash:

And turned a can of Pumpkin Puree into pumpkin bread, pumpkin waffles, and pumpkin hot chocolate

All vegan by the way.

And I'm not slowing down--I had some very tasty cinnamon spice pumpkin pancakes at brunch with a friend today and  macaroni squash and oat pumpkin bread are up next (both vegan and gluten-free)!

In other news:

Often just talking and/ or writing about the things whirring around in my head makes them less scary and overwhelming. So today, I wanted to talk about the ways I experience anxiety.

Anxiety is a part of my daily life. I have to work through it to be able to do any and everything. Getting out of bed in the morning requires some self-soothing--breathing deeply and telling myself that there is nothing to be afraid of in the day ahead.

Once I get to work, I have to coax myself into starting my tasks for the day. I'm overwhelmed by the number of things I have to do-- I have a deep fear that I can't do any of it well and I become anxious about the idea of trying to do something that I don't think I can do well.

I have to fight anxiety to make and carry out social plans. The idea of spending time with people fills me with apprehension. I'm afraid of not having anything to say. I'm afraid of feeling awkward. I'm afraid of not being able to be present. When I'm feeling down, which is often, I'm anxious about having to perform as a functioning human being. I'm anxious about not having anything valuable to offer. I'm anxious about the burden someone might put on me.

I have to fight anxiety to make phone dates with family friends and worse, to answer the phone when family or friends call.

I have to fight anxiety to dance. I'm afraid of looking foolish even though I know it does not matter if I do. It's paralyzing.

I have to fight anxiety to write--getting words out of my head and unto a page or up on a screen is just...hard.

And then there's the anxiety that comes as a deep foreboding feeling near my heart. It presses down on my chest, expands inside of it, and fills my body with tension. Usually, the cause is a mystery.

And anxiety about the future...

Since anxiety is such a huge part of my life, coping mechanisms are as well-- things like escaping into media, unhealthy alcohol use, excessive sleeping (at one point in my life, no actual time for that now) pleasure seeking, and compulsive behaviors.

These behaviors are often a source of grief and anxiety for me in themselves. Instead of focusing on them, however, and the lack of success I've had in trying to cold-turkey-quit them, I'm beginning to accept that they persist for particular reasons. I've suffered from a  compulsive disorder for the majority of my life. I've prayed endlessly about it, had people pray and fast for me about it, put all of my willpower towards trying to stop it, and come up with various plans to control it. I've cried with Jesus about it knowing he could easily fix my brain, and bring things under control. But he hasn't and I'm believing more and more that he allows it to continue because there's an important truth he wants to lead me to--something he wants me to discover about why I struggle in the first place.

I know I will be free of relentless anxiety one day and I'm learning to accept that that "one day" might not be soon and that the daily acts of focusing on Jesus and seeking God's kingdom are enough.

My overall hope stems from this: Jesus has specifically told me in scripture to not be anxious or worry about anything and to place all my cares on God. He's specifically told me that he came so that I can have an abundant life. Anxiety is NOT a part of an abundant life.

I've been learning about healthy ways to decrease my anxious feelings and I'm going to try implementing those things while I seek the deeper answers/ root causes. I think I might even do a series of posts specifically discussing each anxiety-busting tactic I try.

I bet pumpkin based foods are good for fighting anxiety as well...

Thanks to Starbuck's new "La Boulange" shit, this gem is now very hard to come by, at least on my side of Chicago. Luckily I noticed that the Starbucks in the grocery store I was in this evening, had 3 slices of authentic pumpkin bread, not "pumpkin loaf," which is what they serve in "La Boulange." I immediately purchased a slice! I will stick to making my own from now on but I'm glad I had the opportunity to taste this again before it becomes completely extinct.