Monday, August 24, 2015

Lessons In Anxiety

(I'm the one in the back in the pink top on the right. Trying not to fall off. Seriously.)

About 90 minutes before this photo was taken, I wasn't quite sure I would make it to this lesson.

Saturday was my first SUP yoga class, and I had been looking forward to it for six months. Halfway through my 200-hour yoga teacher training, I decided that I wanted to become certified in teaching stand-up paddleboard yoga, even though I had never done it before. Without getting all astrological (it's a science, y'all), as a Pisces I am at my most peaceful and relaxed on, near, or in water. Yoga challenges me mentally, and the two seem like a slam-dunk of yoga teaching and learning for me. Plus, it looked hella fun, let's be honest.

So why would I consider cancelling just an hour before class was scheduled to start?


Stupid, relentless, ridiculous, inconvenient anxiety.

Anxiety that, at times, requires medication (and I am looking into medical marijuana because why the hell not?).

Anxiety that has left me passed out on the side of the road in the dark, with a six-year-old daughter waiting patiently in the car while I woke up, finished puking, then got back into the car.

Anxiety that laid me out on the floor of the bathroom in the Georgia Aquarium on that same kid's birthday for three hours, unable to stand up, feet sticking out of the stall, her little teeny voice saying as I woke up from fainting, "Mommy? Did you know your hand is in the toilet?" (side note: not one single person asked if they could help or if we were okay in THREE HOURS that I was on the floor. NOT ONE.)

Anxiety on an otherwise amazing day that involved canning, farmer's market shopping, and dog walking. A beautiful, 84-degree miracle of a fall day in the summer.

Then WHAM. Hit in the face.

The more I talk about my anxiety (which is infrequently and not even remotely this publicly because it's no one else's business really and who the hell really wants to hear it anyway?), the more people I meet who experience the same thing. I have resigned myself to taking a pill when I need it (which makes me giggle even as I am taking it because it's like taking a "chill pill," which brings me back to the 80s), but I am still hopeful that some day it will disappear on its own or I will have amassed enough tools to get through it without drugs.

Saturday I popped a pill and breathed while I waited for the anxiety to pass, then drove down to a flat calm inlet and SUPed like a crazy person. At the end of the lesson, lying on my back on the board in savasana, arms trailing in the water, sun shining down on my face, I realized how lucky I am and felt an immense wave of gratitude wash over me. Anxiety is not so welcome  that I wouldn't immediately hand it over if given the chance, but it offers me the opportunity to be so much more grateful for the experiences I have because of what I have to go through to have them. At the end of the class my heart was full, and I felt lit up by the revelation of yoga on the water. Had I not nearly been incapable of that experience, it may not have felt so sweet.

Do you have any gifts disguised as a curse?


  1. Anxiety and panic disorder suck shit. Tried for many years to deal with it through various relaxation practices but nothing worked. So now I have learned to be grateful for my chill pill and take it without shame or guilt. Then the attack passes and my life continues and I don't have to suffer for nearly as long as I used to when I was trying to just get over the attacks.

    1. I am definitely trying to get to the point where taking a pill when I need it is no big deal, but it's difficult. My particular prescription is addictive (I think they all are), and I don't like to rely on anything for anything. So that's another thing that just adds to the anxiety, YKWIM?

      It does allow me to do things I would have missed before, and that is more important to me, I think. If I missed SUP because of anxiety I would have been PISSED!!

  2. Hello. I came across your blog through a FB friend. Anxiety is such a beast, but I had to comment as I'm reading a book that has been very helpful. It's called Hope and Help for Your Nerves, by Claire Weekes (under $10 on Amazon). It has helped me more than anything else in this draining journey. I haven't finished it, yet. I just read a little at a time- more easily digested that way. I'm so sorry for what you've had to struggle with. People who've never experienced anxiety dont usually get it. I'd never wish it on anyone. I wish you a peaceful mind going forward.


  3. Hello. I came across your post through a FB friend. Anxiety is such a beast. I'm currently reading a book that has helped me more than anything else in this experience- Hope and Help for Your Nerves, by Claire Weeks (under $10 on Amazon). I read it just a bit at a time, easier to digest. I'm sorry you have to go through this. Wouldn't wish anxiety on anyone. Most people who've never experienced it just don't get it. I wish you a peaceful mind, going forward.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation; I will take a look!