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Anxiety

It’s Always About Attention

I’m addicted to my own sadness.

This is mad right? Crazy. Why would I want to be sad. How could this be an addiction?

Being sad puts me into a position to be cared for, because let’s be honest here, I crave attention. When I’m not getting the attention I want, I do one of two things: become angry or become sad.

Being angry causes other people to pay attention to me. They wonder why I’m angry and try to calm me down or figure out how to help. Being sad causes people to pay attention to me. They wonder why I’m sad and try to help me be happy, they tell me good things about myself; cater to my needs.

Being sad also puts me in a position of the victim, which in some messed up way, allows me to feel like I need to be extra cared for. People feel bad for someone who has depression, who looks sad, who is a victim.

So it makes sense to want to play that part.

Why would I want people to feel bad for me, though? Attention. It always comes back to attention. Although I find this to be confusing as well, because as much as I crave the attention of others, I hate being in the center of it. A quote from Blackout by Sarah Hepola:

“I’ve always been mixed up about attention, enjoying its warmth but not its scrutiny. I swear I’ve spent half my life hiding behind a couch and the other half wondering why no one was paying attention to me.”

Perfect.

Maybe it stems from my childhood. Although I think I had a normal one, obviously there was a lack of attention or love from somewhere. I know that as I got older, around seven to ten, my Mom started giving her attention to the neighborhood kids whom she babysat for. I didn’t like this. I acted out while they were around, being mean and grabbing at my Mom. I felt left out, like she was dumping me for these new children.

Maybe that’s where my attention-seeking behavior began. Scratch that, I know that’s where it started.

That, and the whole other fact that my Dad didn’t have any interest in my life, besides wanting me to be normal and be a good golfer. Like my brother.

Fighting for attention with my brother was another issue. One that, along with many other probable causes, led to my eventual downfall into anorexia, depression, and anxiety.

I wasn’t getting the attention and care I so desperately needed, wanted, so I concocted my own seemingly awesome plan: Stop eating and maybe people will figure out that there is something wrong with me. Act depressed and then maybe people will care.

But I soon realized this was not the type of attention I wanted. Actually, I wasn’t getting love at all, but anger. My Mom, angry that I was losing weight. My Dad, angry that I wasn’t being normal. My brothers, angry that I wasn’t the same happy kid I used to be.

As much as I hated the angry attention, it was still attention, and I clung to it with all I had. My fragile self thrived on this.

So when the anorexia was fought and I started eating like a normal person again, this attention stopped. Panic arose inside and that’s when the depression took over. Thoughts of killing myself became the new course of action.

Because it’s easier to hate yourself than to love yourself. And it’s easier to feel sad than to search for happiness. And it’s easier to gain other people’s affection through your own shitty-ness.

Being a depressed mess also makes you feel like you’re special, even if it’s in a fucked up way. I don’t feel any sense of uniqueness from being happy or looking on the bright side. Yet bringing myself down, contemplating suicide, and having a negative opinion about everything makes my insides feel special. I’m more fucked up than you. I’m more special than you are.

Sad.

These days, I can’t stand when people say their eating disorder isn’t about attention, because it is. Just be honest. You’re craving some form of attention, affection, care, love. And if it’s not an eating disorder than it’s depression, alcohol, drugs, whatever.

When we hurt and don’t want others to know, we turn to alcohol or drugs or food in a desperate search to not only cure our aching minds, but also in a hope that others WILL notice and in turn save our drowning souls.  

I’ve found, since losing the anorexia persona, depression is a lot harder for people to notice. I keep up a pretty good facade, in an attempt to appear normal, yet on the inside wishing I could let me guard down; fall apart. Because then people would realize something is terribly wrong, and help me. Feel bad for me.

Attention: it’s a devil’s game. 

You’ll never win.

Anorexia, Anxiety, Depression, Life, Personal

What My Anxiety Attacks Look Like

I don’t have normal panic attacks. There’s no rapid heart rate or sweaty palms, or fear of not being able to breath. But I do have periods of overwhelming anxiety. Periods when I don’t know what to do with my anxious thoughts so I sit and cry.

My anxiety is constant. It never goes away. Yes, some days I consider it to be better than others, but unless I’m sitting at home in my comfort zone, my anxiety is on full speed. When I say anxiety, I’m referring to mostly social anxiety, ie. fear around people, what to say, what they might say, what they might ask me, fear of looking stupid or mumbling my words. Basically just an overall sense that other people are judging me and being afraid of those judgments.

But I also have anxiety where I think too much about life: what should I do with myself, I haven’t made any major accomplishments, what if I never do this or that, am I going to have enough money this month, what am I going to wear, buy, do today, etc. And then there is food anxiety: what am I going to eat today, should I have this or that, and noticing what other people are eating and balancing my intake against theirs because in some weird world that puts my mind at ease. Body anxiety is in there somewhere too, obviously.

Pretty much anything there is to worry about, I worry about. 

Most days I can balance my anxieties, keeping them in check in order to preform the necessary tasks that my day requires: going to work, making dinner, going grocery shopping, having conversations with people, etc. Normal, human things.

But I’ve realized that I have two modes when it comes to my anxiety. Want and need. The things that I need to do, such as work and make money, is something that I can do without too much of my thoughts getting in the way. I mean of course my anxiety is always with me at work, but I am able to push it aside for the most part.

Then there are the things I know I don’t necessarily need to do, so those things I’ll avoid like the plague. Parties, social events, family gatherings, walking in public, going places by myself. These are the things that trigger my anxiety attacks because I know I can get away with avoiding them, but I am usually pressured into going either by someone else or by my own guilt.

What happens is that I feel like I literally can’t handle the situation or I picture myself not being able to handle it, by typically sitting by myself, avoiding conversation at all costs, feeling left out, feeling misplaced unimportant, forgotten, unhappy, you get the point. So if I know I’ll feel these things, then why would I put myself through them by choice?

That’s always my argument when I’m trying to explain this to other people. Why put myself through a traumatic event when I can just stay home and be comfortable being alone?

So my attacks typically start with me saying I don’t want to go, trying to explain the situation to someone, then my thoughts get out of hand, I start thinking about all of the worst possible things that could happen and how I will feel while being there, and I break down in tears. The thoughts and feelings seem perfectly reasonable and real at the time, but to someone else they seem completely irrational.

I’m just going to end up all alone in the corner and everyone is going to wonder why I’m so weird. 

People will constantly judge me based on what I will say, but more importantly what I won’t say. 

Many more thoughts run through my mind, which then leads to me getting overwhelmed, crying, panicking. Usually two things happen after my attacks: I feel better after getting the fear out and end up going anyway, or I get my way and I go home.

There have been two occasions where my attacks have caused me to completely avoid the situation while simultaneously being in the middle of the situation. Basically, meaning there was no way out of going, and my attack didn’t stop. So I go, say hello or whatever and then stay out of sight for most of the time, in another room by myself somewhere. Sad, I know. And this makes the whole situation ten times worse because it’s embarrassing. I can’t face the party so I hide and then people end up questioning what’s wrong with me, if not to others, at least in their heads. Or maybe that is my anxiety talking again.

Anyways, in the last seven years, this has happened twice, which is pretty good, but disappointing because the first time it happened was back in 2010 and the second time was last week…

So I’m not sure what happened in between those years, I guess maybe I didn’t have to go to any parties or celebrations, or at least ones I didn’t want to go to.

But I’m upset with myself because it feels like shit when I let my anxiety control my life. It also feels like shit knowing that this behavior can really make other people frustrated and angry with me. I don’t like to disturb the peace so when I do, it physically hurts.

In part I can say it’s not my fault, but when it comes down to it, it is. I have the opportunity to push past the fear, be bigger than it, but I don’t sometimes. I just let the thoughts take over and I start sinking without even trying to swim.  

I guess the thing that messes me up the most is that I still haven’t figured out how to deal with these situations. My coping mechanism is still to avoid, make excuses, push the problem away, but we all know how well that works. I have tried deep breathing and it does help, I have to admit. It really does calm me down and helps my mind relax. Drinking helps, obviously. Having a drink allows my mind to chill out and for me to not take things to personally. But drinking can’t be a coping strategy.

The best way to deal with my anxiety, and I hate this answer, is just to fucking face it. Face it head on. Go to the damn parties, gatherings, whatever. Do the thing that scares you.

I hate admitting it, but this method works. It’s freakin painful, but it works. Facing fear is the best way to deal with it. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. But yes, it helps you grow. 

 

Anxiety, Life, Personal

let us be kind {to ourselves}

being kind to myself means:

accepting where I am in my life. I may not be where I want to be, but I am taking steps to become a better version of myself.

accepting my body and the changes it’s gone through.

being okay with swapping strength training for yoga. there are different forms of fitness, each one bringing new and exciting challenges to both the body and mind. it is okay to try new things, while letting go of the old.

staying true to my own goodness. i am aware there are things i need to strengthen within myself, but i am also aware that i do not need to make any changes to my soul. i am perfect as i am.

giving myself time and space to relax. it’s okay to take a ‘me day’ or a couple ‘me hours’ and just relax. this might mean drawing, watching a favorite show on netflix, cooking myself something yummy for dinner, or literally just laying down.

accepting that i don’t have everything figured out and possibly never will. as much as i feel safe with making plans for my life, things are constantly changing and being okay with the possibility that i might never know what i want to do with it (my life) is important.

knowing i am doing the best i can with what i have/know at the moment.

knowing i can only do so much. there are always going to be people who demand certain things, attention, etc. and there will always be bills pilling up, chores to complete, jobs to get done. we can only do what we can do with the resources we have now.

letting things go that do not serve me. ie. the past, negative thoughts, old wounds, etc.

allowing myself to feel.

allowing myself to get angry.

allowing myself to express my thoughts and emotions in whatever way works for me in the moment.

this whole ‘being kind to myself’ concept seems to be a theme in my life right now and i can’t ignore it.

Anxiety, Life, Personal, Self Kindness