Anxiety Revisited

The years 2008-2009 were not very good years.  I lost two people very close to me suddenly, less than a month apart. In addition, many other negative things happened, making it an extremely bad time. It also affected my writing, and I just finally stopped trying. I lost my confidence and my self-esteem suffered a tremendous blow. I now know why all the old southern ladies used to say when I was growing up that someone “just wasn’t right in the head.”  I definitely haven’t been right in the head. During all this wallowing in my misery, I broke my own vow to keep negativity out of my life. I found myself being influenced by negative thoughts, feelings, and especially people. I think a lot of people, including me, don’t realize what you’re experiencing until you start to look at it from the other side. I now see I was being sucked into this black, negative tornado that just kept spinning and spinning out of control.

The problem is, no one can stop it but me. At the start of the new year, I decided to make more of a conscious effort to get rid of those negative feelings, my own negative outlook, and try to make that black cloud hanging over me disappear. I started writing in a journal again, privately, to push myself to put my thoughts on paper and to stop living inside my head with the doubts and fears that continually cry out, “You’re a failure, you’re not capable, you have no skills!” It’s easy to look at that behavior and know it’s wrong and self-destructive, but much more difficult to change.

When I start a new project, I am usually excited, inspired and motivated. However, it’s too easy to let negative comments from people bring me down and the self-doubt starts to appear. No one in my personal life has many nice things to say about someone who isn’t racing to a job for 9-10 hours a day. Many people have told me that the way to overcome feeling down or to get over someone’s death is to get a job that doesn’t give me any time to think or wallow in misery.

When my best friend died, I spoke at her memorial, and wrote a tribute to her. Many people commented to me after the service how touched they were by what I had written, and I had to laugh at the comments. “Trish, you should be a writer.”

Fast forward to a few days ago, when I was contacted by the local library education director, who was looking for someone to teach a class on writing and publishing online, and someone who remembered my speech at the memorial suggested she contact me. Many people here are aware of blogging or keeping an online journal, but don’t know how to get started. She asked if I might be interested in teaching this class once a week, and get a sense for community interest, and possibly help people improve their writing skills.

I was immediately excited by her request, and told her yes, of course, I would enjoy teaching other people about a subject I am so passionate about. The next morning, the doubts and fears started creeping in — What if no one shows up? What if people show up and demand their money back after it sucks so bad? What if . . .

I couldn’t see through the fog enough to think, What if people are able to learn something they wouldn’t otherwise know? The anxiety was incredible. I finally thought, ‘I can’t do this. I’m going to call her and tell her to find someone else and I can just contribute behind the scenes and not deal with people.’

In the middle of this panic and anxiety, I was watching my Twitter feed, and saw the following come across my feed: “4 Tips to Help You Acknowledge Anxiety and Fear.” I clicked over, and read Tammy’s tips for working through the fear, embracing it, and using it to be more successful. I knew all these things. They’re logical, right? But I always forget them when I’m stuck on the escalator to nowhere, with all those negative voices yelling at me along the way.

I sat here, mad at myself for already falling through the rabbit hole of despair, and not being strong enough to keep my goal of thinking positive and believing in myself more. I realized it’s a slow process, and bad habits are really hard to break. But reading about someone else facing the same struggles, working through them and being strong enough to share them and compose such excellent advice for other people made me realize that maybe I could do the same thing for someone else. Maybe someone who signs up for that class could have the same revelation. Or if not, at least I have worked through my own anxiety and panic attack to feel like I’ve moved one more rung up the positive thoughts  ladder.

It doesn’t help my confidence level to the point that the anxiety goes away. But it does feel better that I’ve overcome one hurdle, knowing I’m getting better, and perhaps 2010 really will be the year of positive change.

Photo by Flickr user, mullenkedheim.

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About the author: Trish