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Owning Anxiety

Just this month, I’ve had a huge awakening.


I struggle with anxiety. And, I feel shame about it.


I don’t want to let people in my life know about it, although my husband sure knows its there. When my friends ask me how I am, I’d never consider saying “I am wrestling with anxiety.”


Why?


A change in identity


I have fibromyalgia and have wrestled with chronic pain for more years than I can remember.


Like many people with fibromyalgia — especially if I am having a flare-up — I am sensitive to smells, noises, and tastes. I can hear a person tapping on the desk with fingertips or smell a tuna sandwich across the room. I often felt irritable with the smallest environmental changes like smell, taste, or sounds. Headaches were a part of my personal experience too.


I took fibromyalgia in as a part of my identity: I recognize it and even embrace it. I never feel shame. In fact, I was prescribed benzodiazepines for fibromyalgia — and most of you know the problems with benzodiazepines.


What I understood about myself is that I had a pain issue, not an anxiety issue.


Well, I’ve tapered off of Klonipin (clonazepam) and I’ve been off for two years now. In so many ways, I am much better. Certainly better than when I was tapering. And I have discovered — maybe I have always wondered — that I am dealing with anxiety.


Here I am owning the fact that I experience anxiety often, sometimes daily.


It is uncomfortable. It can be gnawing. I feel it in my solar plexus. By owning this, it now means I can address the reasons that I often feel edgy, impatient, worried, and easy to cry.


If I can't identify the reasons, then I am committed to finding ways to eliminate it or cope with it.


I have some questions

  • How does my identity change when I say I have anxiety?

  • Why am I worried about being judged about anxiety?

  • Does it make me “less than?”

  • Why do I feel ashamed?

I didn’t choose to feel such anxiety or behave in a way I regret. In the same way I didn’t choose how tall I am, I didn’t choose anxiety. The truth is, I'm in good company. 40 million other adults share this same type of experience every year. (https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics).


These are the questions I am wrestling with and hope to explore on Easing Anxiety. I want to develop a different relationship with anxiety. I am challenging myself to be:

  • Curious about it

  • Understand it

  • Embrace it


Instead of being ashamed, I want to hear this:

“ Vulnerability is not a weakness. Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage” Brene Brown, Listening to Shame, 2012 Ted Talk

My hope is that I can be courageous.

 

As always, let us know what you think.



References


For Informational Purposes Only

All information presented on Easing Anxiety is for informational purposes only, and should never be considered medical or health advice. Withdrawal, tapering, or any change in dosage of benzodiazepines or any other prescription drugs should only be done under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. This article was written by a living, breathing human. Please read our site disclaimer for more information.


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2 Comments


Thank you for this post. The long-term use of benzos is widely known to cause a profound increase in anxiety, even in people who had no issues with anxiety prior to using the medication. This anxiety is the result of an injury to the brain/nervous system, and can persist for years after cessation. It is very important for those injured to be aware of this chemical effect, and I believe it should have been acknowledged in your post. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. -Jeff Stoffel

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Doryn Chervin
Doryn Chervin
Oct 13, 2023
Replying to

Jeff, thank you so much for pointing this out. It is appreciated.

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