Every so often my younger dog decides to lose her mind. Absolutely nothing will be happening but she’ll start to look around and yip softly, getting louder by the moment. Soon she is crooning and whining, which quickly turns into a high pitch, full-on howl. No matter what I do–cuddle her, hold her on my lap, hold her mouth closed, yell in her ear, soothe her–nothing seems to break her out of the cycle once it’s grabbed hold of her. I cannot for the life of me figure out what is happening to her in these moments. It feels like she is having some sort of existential crisis. Woe is me, I don’t know who I am anymore. I know that feeling. When I am low everything feels overwhelming. Sometimes my anxiety builds like her howls: quietly, then progressively more wildly, and finally so out of control that very few things will help me snap out of it. I have, like everyone else, many causes of anxiety and many manifestations of it.
For instance, going back to school is giving me anxiety because I am so out of practice. I am trying my best to prepare my brain before I get started again but I think it will be a be shock to the system. Then, the last few days have been kind of low and filled with an ambiguous anxiety, not really driven by anything in particular but just by chemical mood swing. Recognizing and separating the two anxieties is very helpful to me because it allows me to treat each properly. Like, with school I can apply practice every day to help alleviate some stress and also self-talk to remind myself that I’m going to school to learn. I don’t need to know everything. So with the chemical part, just knowing that I’m sort of off-balance allows me to acknowledge the anxiety, take a Xanax, and then engage in activities that help reduce tension (which includes, at this point, working on pre-school stuff).
Splitting up anxiety into manageable chunks is not always possible, but it helps me a lot.