I think it’s fairly safe to say at this point that I have relapsed a bit into anxiety. This is always a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, but this time it is even more because it’s not just one type of anxiety flaring up — intrusive thoughts or generalized anxiety — but both this time. And that doesn’t usually happen.
Every so often, maybe every month or two, the intrusive thoughts start to bother me. I will start to notice the intrusive thoughts a bit more, and they will become harder and harder to let go of. It gets harder and harder to trust myself.
But then on top of that, I have noticed a ridiculous amount of tension this week. Every half an hour or so, I will feel my jaw hurting, and I will realize it’s so tense that I’m surprised I’m not doing damage, and regardless of what I try to do to relax it, I simply can’t. And then about half an hour ago, I was taking a shower to try to calm down, and my right eye started to twitch — a surefire signal that my body is overflowing with tension. My whole body is starting to hurt because of the tension my muscles have been under.
The odd thing is that besides the tension over the intrusive thoughts, I haven’t been feeling particularly anxious. My mind isn’t racing. I’m focused. I’m present. I just have this underlying physical level of fairly intense tension.
If you would have told me during the height of my anxiety problems that I would never fully be cured, that there would always be some relapses of sorts, I wouldn’t have been able to process that information. I probably wouldn’t have allowed myself to believe it.
But now it’s something I can handle.
It has been about 8 or 9 years since my anxiety was at its worst. A lot has happened in that time. A lot happened to help quell that anxiety and a lot has happened to help keep it down.
But what I sometimes wonder is if I don’t give myself enough credit for keeping it at bay.
Anxiety has always been a bit confusing to me. The basics make sense to me. I understand how it works. But on the flip side, I don’t always understand why I can’t fully beat it. That makes me start to feel down on myself, and it just compounds the anxiety and calls depression out of the wood work.
But if I stop to think about it, I realize that the reason the anxiety doesn’t come back as strong is because I don’t let it. I force myself as often as I can to dismiss those obsessive thoughts. I stop myself from ruminating because I know it only leads to one dead end. I force myself to relax and decompress.
And I do this all for me and for my family. So that we can have a somewhat normal existence.
A relapse is always a bitter pill to swallow. But it has become much easier since I have started to trust myself to beat it.
Maybe one day I will look back and realize that it has been years since I’ve last fallen into anxiety. And maybe I won’t. And maybe I’m becoming okay with that.
We all have our battles. This is mine. I will always show up for the fight.
Knapp, A. (2015). Anxiety Relapse. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/anxiety-depression/2015/04/anxiety-relapse/