If you’ve ever suffered from any sort of anxiety disorder, you’ll get me when I say that anxiety makes me really angry. It’s not because anxiety in itself sucks, which it does, a lot, it’s more about how much it drops bombs on your life, your life goals, your happiness and your self-esteem. You can’t have the things that you want out of life when anxiety rules. You must sacrifice your happiness to stay “safe.”
As an example, recently I looked at jobs and found several that I’d like to have, however due to my anxiety I have to rethink all my options. I can’t just go for the job I want. I can’t even properly PREPARE myself for the job I want. This is highly upsetting to me, so upsetting that I get quite angry and frankly turn into a royal pissy-pants (they make those, right?).
The job I really want and think I’d excel at is in communications, social media, graphic design. But I can’t even apply for these positions because I supposedly don’t have enough experience. What this means is that I don’t have enough “official” experience. I.e. working for an actual business or having a job already in the field. The reason I don’t have this experience even though I could probably gain it with what skills I have? ANXIETY. (All the answers to all the questions are: ANXIETY.) I’m too anxious to take on a part time job or an internship and my actual job options are pretty limited too. I have to stay safe within positions I can handle. So the only experience I really have is what I do here on this blog or for friends/referrals and can I really share what I do here on Angst with hiring managers?
This is always a dilemma for me…whether to share Angst or not. I think it’s a good example of my ability to write creatively on a regular basis. To express myself, hone my writing craft and I’ve created all the graphics as well for this blog and all my social media channels. However, others see my blog and judge it strictly on content, not on the experience it represents. And my Angst content is highly personal and to be honest, it’s something that could be used to discriminate against me.
I was recently told by a career coach to only share Angst or my personal career website when the position is highly creative. Well, most of the careers I want require creativity, writing skills, social media knowledge, so…how can I NOT share my blog or personal site? But again, it’s a game I have to play: Roll the dice that someone will “get it” and not judge me or risk losing a position because they won’t get it? And this is a kind of discrimination that can’t be proven, which is why people can get away with it. But again, back on topic, I still don’t have the official experience to even APPLY for these jobs in the first place. So I’m sunk, right out of the gate, unless I want to share my personal experience which could burn me. I’m in a fucking catch-22.
So then there’s the, I think, very understandable anger that anxiety has ruined my life and not allowed me to have the job I desire. If you read anything about social anxiety or really any form of anxiety you will often find paragraphs describing how people with anxiety are often under-employed. Our anxiety does not let us live up to our full potential and thus we’re frustrated and unhappy in our current jobs. This isn’t good for anyone.
The drama with my anxiety continues as it always does and I’m still med-free right now. I saw a psychiatrist for the first time recently and he recommended a medication for me: Buspar. I tried it, but the sleeping side effects/insomnia that I seem to experience with anxiety meds in general, particularly SSRI’s, was there too. So I stopped taking it.
That’s another hard choice…do I choose to be able to sleep which restores and heals my body (very necessary, particularly as far as wanting to exercise/having energy/dealing with my Endometriosis) or do I choose to take meds that make it very difficult for me to sleep and thus I go through life tired and exhausted, never achieving deep restful sleep but subsisting on shallow dream filled sleep? Again, what’s most important for me? Right now I choose energy and vitality, despite the anxiety that comes along with it. How long will I be able to live this way? And why is my life always about making shitty-ass choices about my health? There are always trade-offs, suck-ass, shitty, horrible, trade-offs.
So I saw the psychiatrist again and told him I decided to stay off meds, for now. I have no idea what this will mean as it varies by the day. Some days I am hyped up and anxious and everything bothers me, other days I feel calm and collected, however when looking toward the future and my life goals, I always find a cloud spoils the view.
So yeah…maybe I do get just a leetle angry. It’s especially frustrating and embarrassing because from the outside looking in, people don’t know that my life has been affected in this way. People don’t know that I haven’t pursued the jobs I really want because I’m too anxious! People don’t know that the job I have is not making me happy and is making me feel resentful because it’s my “safe” job. People don’t know that it’s very shitty knowing you are capable of so much more but not being able to realize that “so much more” because you’re too afraid. It’s hard to always put on that happy face!
And trust me, if I didn’t have anxiety and was normal and able to go about my life without fear, I’d have so much experience it’d make your head spin. I’d be a goddamned rock star! I’d be an accomplishment fiend! People just don’t get how much anxiety affects you, how much it eats away at you, how you are left angry and resentful and unfulfilled. People definitely don’t know how far anxiety can reach. It is a fucking rabbit warren filled with awesome surprises at every turn!
My goal now is to actually try to work on my anxiety. I know I’ve had a love/hate relationship with therapy and I’m not actually planning to go to therapy, at least not yet. I am planning on reading, researching and seeing if there’s any way I can help myself. Surprisingly I’ve never actually actively worked on my anxiety while off meds. This is because I’ve never felt comfortable going to therapy while off meds and I’ve never really thought about trying to help myself through therapy-like means on my own as I’ve often doubted I can make a difference! I’ve been too afraid of therapy appointments, of failure, of pushing myself, of doing the things that scare me, however there’s a real problem with this “only going to therapy while on meds” idea as well.
I’d get on meds, feel slightly better, go to therapy, make some small progress and then once I started to really feel better/distanced from my anxiety, I’d stop all forward movement and drop out of therapy. A large part of this is due to the fact that you cannot actively work on something you don’t feel very often. When I’m off meds, I feel anxious quite a bit and there’s plenty of opportunities for me to tackle my thoughts and feelings. When I’ve been on meds for a while, I’m not battling anxiety day in and day out. I’m battling it now and again, and you can’t really make much progress that way. How can you win a war when you only skirmish once every month? There’s no real headway or progress.
That’s another funny concept, battling my anxiety or the “war.” I’ve always been at war with my anxiety. That’s going to stop. It’s not a war. It’s my life! And I want life too much to let myself be consumed in a battle that just seems to get worse, the more I fight. It’s this sort of paradox. By fighting my anxiety, I am making it worse. All those sick feelings, the tense stomach, the racing heart, those are war feelings. Those are battle feelings where I’m trying to defend myself from my anxiety. The weird thing is that I’ve already had some success by telling myself that I am no longer fighting that war. And when you stop fighting, those feelings begin to lessen. These are the exact same anxiety feelings that torture me! A lot of it is caused by going to war against my anxiety, by refusing to ever feel anxiety in my life and trying to control everything. I want to learn to accept life for what it is. A beautiful experience, both the good and the bad!
Maybe there’s something to it. I don’t know, yet. I just know I’m going to have an open mind and see how it goes. I’m hoping that I can live a more fulfilled life. I’m hoping to end the cycle of being on meds, then coming off because of the side effects and ending up right back in the same problems, yet again, because the meds don’t actually solve anything.
I’m also trying to realize that even if you can’t have everything you want, you can at least change the way you think about it. Being grateful for what you do have is pretty powerful. I’m pretty damn grateful that even if I don’t have the official job experience or the official job, I do have Angst. It’s the place that frees me, no matter how anyone may judge! Which is why, I’ll post this, regardless. A post like this is doing more good than harm and anyone who can’t recognize that is the crazy one.