Why it’s time to stop tying myself in knots
Languish in turmoil or do something about it. I’ve made my choice… what will yours be?
It often starts with a knot in the stomach. Sometimes, though, the knot comes later — some time after the slightly tetchy, niggly feeling in my gut has started to do its ‘dance’.
Right now, in this space, there is absolutely no logical reason for this angsty-ness (is that even a word?). My dogs are sat at my feet, the sun’s shining and life is pretty good. No dramas, no ill health, no bereavements, no sad news.
So, why now? Why the growing anxiety in my chest, in my tummy? Life is an adventure, right? A glorious adventure to be enjoyed, to learn from, to grab by the short and curlies and to live.
I know all this, I really do, and yet still, in the midst of my menopausal ‘madness’, I regularly experience these reactions. It’s like the menopause police have been around, questioned me unmercifully and locked me up for GBH — Grumpy Bag of Hormones — leaving me a prisoner in my own body, afraid to go out, try new things and bereft of my joie de vivre. What a sad sack! (I’m sure I’ve got a few of those in the wardrobe. They need to go!)
At this point a few of you may have been so depressed/bored/confused by the previous four paragraphs you may well have closed the file and, to coin a phrase from a certain childhood favourite of mine, chosen to “….go and do something less boring instead”. Quite understandable. No need to apologise.
But if you’re still here, the weird gets weirder, especially if you’re still reading. Thank you. Welcome to Weird World, population indefinable.
So, where was I? (losing your thread — another annoying trait of the menopausal years). Ah, yes, that anxiety thang.
Rats running riot
Sometimes I let that anxiety, that fear, completely control me and, when I do, the results can be horrendous — totally debilitating. It’s like a plague of rats are gnawing at my insides and fighting amongst themselves to get out. Painful, exhausting and downright uncomfortable. At these times it’s no wonder I want to hide away from people, from life, even from those adventures that are waiting for me, for you, for all of us if we’re brave enough to take a step outside.
So, when these times hit, what can we do about it?
Well, there are plenty of options, although the first challenge when you’re caught in the anxiety trap is even acknowledging this fact. After all, if you accept there are options it can weaken your angsty argument and, let’s face it, certainly in my case, the secondary gain to be had.
But let’s not go down that dark alley. We know all that’s awaiting us at the end of it is a rusty old bin full of limiting beliefs, half-eaten procrastinations and now very fat rats full up from feasting on my anxiety.
There’s always options
Instead, let’s explore those options. These are some of mine…
Firstly, I can write down how I feel in a ‘brain dump’ journal or in a Medium article like this. My preferred option and my default setting (something to do with being a journo perhaps?)
Option 2: get up, move, throw down a few slam balls (I’ve just done exactly this and they’re brilliant for getting rid of all that pent up emotion), sing, dance, go for a bike ride, walk or a run outside if you’re brave enough. If you’re not then invest in a rowing machine/static bike/running machine and just MOVE!!!!! And I’ll say it again MOVE!!!!!!! This is the single biggest hurdle for me to overcome when I’m in a depressive space and it’s, without doubt, the reason why I have been overweight for most of my life.
My pattern often goes like this: anxiety — food — shame — anxiety — food — shame — anxiety — depression/self-loathing etc, etc, etc…..
No movement. Not great eh? Not good for my body or my mental health. And yet still sometimes, knowing all this, I CHOOSE to stagnate. A self-harming mechanism? I think so.
Oh yeah, and speaking of self-harming, there is an option 3. You can do NOTHING. You can choose to sit in your anxiety. Paddle in it, bathe in it, drown in it if you like, it’s all the same and produces the same results. NOTHING CHANGES.
But I don’t want to take Option 3, not deep down, and I don’t want you to do that either. I deserve — we deserve — so much more.
I can listen to/read/watch a million self-help guides showing me how to kick anxiety into touch, book an appointment with an ‘expert’ but, at the end of the day, however great the teacher/coach/counsellor/psychotherapist, it’s down to me to open the door and let the light in.
So today, I have thrown down slam balls, I have played with my pets, I have written this article, I have told the rats to do one and I’m going out on an adventure.
I hope you will do the same.
Asha Clearwater is an NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) qualified journalist who’s been a news reporter, features editor and arts editor, as well as editor of several national business magazines.
Today, through her business Turquoise Tiger, she coaches SMEs on the art of great storytelling to promote their products and services.
Asha occasionally freelances as a writer for national magazines and is even behind some of the information boards you’ll find strolling through Woodland Trust Forests.