I could feel it when I woke up. It was long before my alarm sounded. My stomach was in knots, and my chest felt as tight as a rubber band. I felt nauseous and jittery. I really wanted to crawl back into bed, swallow a magic pill, or just wake up to a different reality. What triggered this and why is not even relevant, because I woke up and knew: today was going to be a bad day.
Anxiety does not take a day off. I have been doing this long enough to see the signs and know when it is rearing its ugly, inconvenient head. It likes to pop up at the exact moment you think you are doing so well; I had just told my therapist that I felt really good and stable. Ironic, but completely on pattern.
Here is the difference between anxiety now and a few months ago or even a decade ago: I know that it is going to be okay.
It is going to be okay. Not perfect. Not pleasant. Hell, not even a little easy.
I have coping methods like muscle isolation, yoga, stretching, and deep breathing. I can talk myself through the racing thoughts and fear, and this often helps alleviate the physical symptoms. There are medications I can and do take if it is more than I can manage. All those hours of therapy and doctor appointments were not wasted.
The most important thing that I have learned is to be honest and upfront about it. My husband knew something was up because he lives with me, but I made sure to tell him that I was having bad, unexplained anxiety. I told him that I was getting through the dentists with the kids and work, then I was going home and calling an audible. I told my co-workers I was not feeling well and mostly kept to myself. My kids were…well, they were kids but they tried to be quieter. Finally, I went to bed early and actually slept.
As much as I would like to, I cannot take a day off when it comes to managing my mental health. I am lucky that I have a support system and have been able to get professional help. Not everyone can afford this or has this in place, a fact that makes me incredibly sad. It is because of this that my bad days and moments are simply that. These are not a setback – just a bad day.
This morning, I woke up still jittery but much less tense. I can feel some of those racing thoughts again, and I am not hungry at all. Yet today is better than yesterday. That is all I can really hope for – that every moment and day will be better. It’s just a bad day, not a setback.