I’ve coined a new word. I’m sure there’s a proper one though.

I think I’ve become sensitized to anxiety, similar to how someone stung by bees can develop a worse and worse reaction each subsequent time they are stung to the point that they break out in a nervous reaction whenever someone unscrews a jar of honey. (ok maybe not that bad, but definitely when there’s bees flying about).

Last week while on holiday’s my boss texted me and asked me to call. I felt the familiar gut churn and twisting. I didn’t want to call. Evenutally, after a few moments I did, but my heart was going faster than it should have.

Psychologists say that a certain level of stress is good. For example, you may not get out of bed but for a low level of stress – perhaps on the bladder, perhaps in the stomach, maybe kids that need to be fed, or a boss that expects you to show up for work.

I overdosed on stress to the point that I developed a form of anxiety. Now that I’m sensitized, any amount of anxiety seems unacceptable to me. I tend to have an exaggerated response to it. The response is a sub-conscious primal reaction in my gut that says “this is bad” deep down somewhere. It could be as small as the anxiety relating to having to be somewhere on time, running late or slightly more stressful events such as going for a job interview.

I’m not sure I agree with the idea that a small amount of stress is good. What if we ditched that idea. Instead of running on a small amount of stress, what if we ran on passion and desire instead? How does this sound? I get out of bed because I’m passionate about seizing the day. I go to work because I’m passionate about my job. I look after my kids because I love them.

My second response after “this is bad” is “I need a beer”. In my head I know both responses are wrong, but I just don’t know how to re-tune the emotional response to stress. It seems that the bit of my brain that moderates the response got overloaded and then broke. I guess it will fix itself one day, but right now, I’m suffering from anxieaphobia.


2 Responses

  1. Yup. I can relate to that. I always dreaded the idea of what symptoms anxiety would bring with it. I discovered eventually that if I would try to relax to that uncomfortable feeling instead of trying to resist, fight, or avoid it, it got better. Those symptoms, while they are unpleasant, are not dangerous. Fear is the fuel, and calm is the water that puts out the anxiety fire.

    God bless!

    • You’re spot on Doug. I think it’s a matter of normalizing a certain amount of stress and not getting stressed about stress. I think I’m suffering from having been in a high state of stress for such a long time, that the moment I sense stress I tend to escalate it.

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