life, mental health, MS, writing

Coming to terms with that bugger anxiety

First, let me tell you that I shared more pictures of stunning Cortes Island, BC, and beautiful Hollyhock Resort where I spent four days at a writing retreat, at the bottom of this post. So, if you’re not in the mood for reading about the oh-so-fun topic of anxiety, with a side dish of introversion and MS sensory overload, scroll on down.

Ocean, beach, west coast, hollyhock resort, cortes Island, BC, blue sky, white clouds, forest, treesView with a room

Retreats are meant to be times of reflection and self-learning, right? Yeah. Nailed it. I realized that I have been in denial about having anxiety my whole life. This is not something I can blame on the monster of MS. Maybe it’s more acute now since the brain-frying relapse, but it’s how I have always been.

I have always felt inherently unlikable. Fuck. There I said it. Not to be confused with the more pathetic, whiny ‘nobody likes me’. I have a very small but very powerful group of people who like me just fine.

It’s in the unfamiliar, unscripted moments where I do every thing I know how to be friendly, open, interested and engaged (it uses a spoon just thinking about it) and most often the vibe I get is… meh. Or, I’ll talk to you until someone more interesting comes along. Or, I’ll talk to you now like we’re connecting but later I won’t even remember that I talked to you.

The questions then become: Do other people feel this way? Is this just my anxiety? Paranoia? Or am I, in fact, unlikable?

Don’t answer that.

I got called a snob as a teenager because I was so ‘shy’. Truth was, I was this weird thing called an introvert but that wasn’t a recognized thing at the time, it was called being a snob, or anti-social. That’s partly why I started self-medicating early on with drugs and alcohol. Well, and it was the 80s – age of excess.

I have learned as an adult to manage that instinctive desire to hide and forced myself to put myself out there. Knowing everyone is just as self-absorbed as I am helps – I’ll call this Exhibit A, for reasons you’ll see later. But I still find it exhausting, as all hard-core introverts do.

Then, there’s the dwindling number of spoons from being out of my routine, and the sensory issues that make my body react to the chatter of mealtime in the cafeteria like that guy in the old Operation game, except for instead of my nose – that would be unfortunate – my whole body lights up inside. It all adds up to being a tad overwhelming.

So, my body goes into self-protection mode which means withdrawing and being seen as, guess what – anti-social. I don’t want to be the person that uses my disease as an excuse but at the same time it puts limits on me over which I have no control. How to explain that to a group of strangers? Answer: Exhibit A, no one cares because everyone has their own issues.

I have a history of feeling like everyone else understands something about the world and I never got the memo. I don’t mean the existential shit, I think I have as good of a grasp on that as anyone at my age. I mean the social, human stuff. It goes back to always feeling the outsider, feeling less than, needing to excuse myself for taking up space in the world.

I thought I had a better handle on it by now.

I found myself in that classroom, with all these amazing women discussing all sorts of interesting topics and the thought of speaking up had my body vibrating and tingling in all the wrong ways. Damn nervous system.

When I did manage to pluck up the courage to say something, most often I felt like a complete idiot. Red-faced, tear off my sweater before I spontaneously combust embarrassment. Even though – Exhibit A! Note to self: nobody gives a flying fart.

What the whole experience made me realize is that I have had undiagnosed anxiety my whole life that I have, and continue to manage with drugs* and alcohol. In a much healthier way now than in my teens obviously. Promise. Usually anyway. Major lifestyle changes and the coping strategies you can only learn through experience, not to mention an amazing family, all help too.

But it’s always there. Even in the most beautiful places.

Beach, Cortes Island, BC, west coast, dark clouds, obscured sun, driftwoodBeach, driftwood, clouds, blue sky, ocean, west coast, Cortes Island, BC

Hollyhock resort, Cortes Island, BC, west coast, Canada geeseGarden, flowers, alstroemeria, west coast, hollyhock resortGarden, dahlia, flowers, west coast, hollyhock resortGarden, flowers, dahlias, west coast, hollyhock resort

That tingly, vibrating thing I mentioned above? That has completely invaded my body in a most annoying way as I’ve written this post, along with the tears coursing down my face. Anxiety fucking sucks. MS sucks. But, do I regret putting myself out there and trying something new? Never.

Do I regret putting this post out there, at the risk that someone answers ‘that’ question? That remains to be seen. 😉 If even one person can relate to just one part of what I’ve spilled here, it’s worth it.

Whenever I feel like things get too overwhelming, and I need to force myself into the present, I think ‘just put one foot in front of the other‘. Did you hear the song from the Santa Claus Is Coming To Town movie when you read that, or is it just me – the Christmas and musical geek? 🤓😊 Putting on my headphones and listening to music always helps too. Spotify is my new favourite app.

I would, of course, welcome any comments, answers, illuminations, wisdom, advice, input. More pictures below.

Have a wonderful week!

❤️ Amanda

Here are some articles you might find useful if, like me, you sometimes feel you were dropped here from another planet. My results from the anxiety assessment were surprising, and yet not.

15 Signs That You’re An Introvert With High-Functioning Anxiety

Anxiety in MS: Frequently Overlooked and Undetected

MS and Anxiety – free anxiety assessment

Marijuana And Meditation May Both Reduce Anxiety. Which Is Better?

*Cannabis aka marijuana aka weed aka pot aka ganja, etc is known as a tribal medicine for multiple sclerosis. Meaning MS was one of the first diseases to be recognized as gaining relief from its use. All I can say is I’m grateful that I’ve lived to see the day that it is legal and the medical community is finally starting to recognize the powerful benefits of this natural remedy. But that’s another post.

Garden, flowers, vegetables, west coast, hollyhock resort
The garden at Hollyhock is stunning and provides many fresh ingredients for the delicious meals.

Garden, vegetables, west coast, hollyhock resortGarden, vegetables, peppers, west coast, hollyhock resortGarden, flowers, alstroemeria, west coast, hollyhock resortGarden, vegetables, irrigation, hollyhock resort

57 thoughts on “Coming to terms with that bugger anxiety”

      1. I’m sure its not supposed to be with way… Expectations, vicious people, oxygen thieves, pollution…all contribute, especially if one is an introvert. I deal with people daily. I battle traffic three hours a day, driving tension, road rage and inconsiderate motorists. Put in my lipstick, high heels, dress to the nines. Work. Ugh. Come home. In case I die, I done my best, been kind, lived my best. Its when I get to bed, its my sanctuary, my haven and God help the hubby and kids, its MY time, I need it otherwise there is no me for tomorrow. Yes, I can be a dragon, I have to guard something for myself. Too much info but it is what it is.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Never too much info, thank you so much for sharing. I so hear you about bed being your sanctuary, it starts beckoning to me pretty early in the day. All we can do is the best we know how and spread kindness in the world, as you say. Oxygen thieves – I like that. And we do need to protect our time as mothers, especially those that work outside the home, time flies by we have to make time for self-care without feeling selfish. Dragons unite!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very right! Chronic stress and anxiety attacks used to play a huge role in my daily life. However, after trying many different healing strategies I was able to find a life changing and long term solution. I was able to build new neurological pathways in the higher brain. These pathways were conditioned to sustain a mindset of calm and resilience thereby displacing earlier habits of chronic stress. -Warmly, Kathleen

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s all about retraining those prior fear and anxiety prone neural pathways. I specialize in working with chronically anxious individuals to build a calm, safe, and resilient mindset long term. These conditioned neural pathways significantly increase the production of serotonin in the brain, thereby restoring GABA neurotransmitter and receptors in the nervous system, which supports that long term calm and safe state of mind. You can reach out to me anytime if you would like more information. -Cheers!

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      2. Hahaha thank you so much for your support and positivity! I love my work, my eight week program “Healing the Anxious Nervous System” has been so effective for many clients. The brain is malleable, and fearful thought patterns that cause anxiety really can be retrained. I’d love to offer you more information about my work and program, feel free to reach out anytime!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Thank you for your post. I’m sorry you experience such anxiety still. I’ve never met you but you are extremely “likeable” from your posts. You are funny, outgoing and tell it like it is! All great qualities. I look forward to your posts. The photos are beautiful -m what a wonderful place you went to! 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I meant to say events such as the one you are attending can be cathartic. Sometimes you just need to step away from the familiar to see how much you are worth. Crying is also healing so keep the waterworks going! 😊😢👍❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What breathtaking photos! Your retreat sounds lovely. I wish I didn’t relate to everything you expressed so eloquently, but I found myself nodding all the way through. What great writers would the world have if it weren’t for such inherently unlikable personalities, I wonder? Or maybe I just think that to make myself feel better. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m so PROUD of you for going to the retreat!!! That in itself took a lot of gumption. I too am a introvert and lived a caged life until I got MS. Then at one point I was often overstimulated and had trouble organizing info, and remembering new info. My Neurologist prescribed Escitalopram in a small dose. I found it helped with the above mentioned issues and took the edge off of my anxiety. I feel very balanced now and enjoy interacting with all people. I know a drug is not the perfect answer but it has changed my life!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Firstly, your photos are beautiful. Secondly, your post was really interesting (which makes you interesting as you wrote it :O) ). Thirdly, I could identify with pretty much everything you wrote (except I was called ‘stuck up’ at school and not a ‘snob’) and I feel for you, truly.
    We find people WE like and try to emulate them for that reason…..which means we are not ourselves……..which means that we cannot be liked for who we are…….which means that we feel further alienated…..I’ve struggled with this my whole life, as you obviously have too. The only answer to it all is to be ourselves and like ourselves for who and what we are but that is so much easier said than done.
    Virtual hug on the way from one who understands :O) xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amanda your words struck me..”It goes back to always feeling the outsider, feeling less than”… I’ve learned from Adlerian psychology about having the courage to be imperfect and growth is the process of moving from a ‘felt minus’ to a ‘felt plus’. Check out Adler Psychology or if you are on fb Wes Winget adds some insightful posts. I love your photos particularly the red lillies and the colourful dalia!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post hit home for me. I can completely relate to what you are saying on so many levels. I have been living with GAD and panic disorder for 11 years now. It does get easier. Unfortunately it is a journey. My Anxiety broke me before I could accept it as part of me. Accepting it for me was the key as it allowed me to accept myself.
    Stay strong and keep challenging it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a fantastic post Amanda! I will say that anxiety has tried to control my life for almost 37 years and trying to break those habits is SO hard, but I am still trying! I think I am a highly-functioning person with LOTS of anxiety, but we all live the best we can! Thank you so much for sharing so much great information!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and your comment, Alyssa. I’m happy, but not, that you can relate. Coping with the ever-present anxiety does get easier with age, for me anyway, but new situations can obviously still throw me for a loop. All we can do is keep trying to get better at managing, right? I’m glad you found the links helpful! 💕

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      1. You are very welcome Amanda! Even though it isn’t any fun, please know you are never alone. Anxiety commands the lives of so many and yet so many do not want to talk or think about ways to improve. The links you shared were fabulous! Someday we will find a way to control our anxiety issues, but I doubt it will happen for me until after our move! Take care sweetie!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The photos of Cortes are gorgeous! I dunno, the older I get. the more I’m surprised at how many people feel like they are the proverbial black sheep. I always think I’m the only one in any given circle but find out that others feel similarly. Your words here will give comfort to others feeling the same anxiety. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Really good post. I used to feel that way for a long time and it used to give me panic attacks and now I’m just more on the lines of: do I like me? Yes. Now, do I like that person? Will it be the end of everything if they don’t like me? No, I already have people who I love and love me and they know me well enough to have a better opinion than people who barely know me. I hope it works out for you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Sophia. I totally agree, and generally that is how I live my life so it doesn’t get the best of me very often anymore. It was being in a strange environment, totally out of my comfort zone that brought it to the forefront. That’s not going to stop me from trying new things and facing the bugger head on, though. 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh I have so been there. I was so shy people thought my brother was an only child. I worked hard to be considered an extrovert but professionals see right through to that introvert. Now, of course, using a walker brings it all back. Gorgeous photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! It’s nice that the world is finally recognizing that being an introvert isn’t a defect!! I was told as a kid that shy people must be arrogant because they think the world’s always looking at them. 😖 Not that all introverts are shy, and I’m not shy in most situations anymore but that always stuck with me. So not the case but you don’t get it, unless you get it.

      Like

  11. count me as 1 of the many this post has helped! May I offer an Exhibit B? When people tell us we’re ulikeable they’re projecting their sense/anxiety of being unlikeable themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That means a lot, thanks! And I think that’s a really good point. The more I talk about anxiety, the more I find many people have similar issues. It certainly helps to not personalize things when you can imagine people sharing the same feelings. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! 💕💕

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  12. As both an introvert and a sufferer from anxiety, I enjoyed your post tremendously. Far more people are silently suffering than folks realize. That I believe to be 100% true.

    Those pictures too – good grief, rock my world why don’t ya? They are absolutely stunning!

    Praying your day is blessed and you’re well!

    Liked by 1 person

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