A lot has been going on personally and this was part of my decision to withdraw from presenting my work to the public. (Which reminds me, I've received permission from my patrons to post their commissioned Original Finger Painting online so I'll be doing that, along with posting the sketches, eventually <--see how I gave myself that vague timeline as a cushion?)
I had been trying to reduce my stress and sense of being overwhelmed, but what I forgot to do was increase my serenity and joy. Making art was part of that rebuilding, re-creating process.
Due to this negligence of "self-care" on my part, I suffered. I thought I had everything under control and when friends (who are psychotherapists) and staff (my physician) told me that my symptoms just might be anxiety related, I scoffed.
Sure, I run a little anxious. It's my temperament and I accept that. I do things to take care of my anxiety and stress--but then I realized I hadn't been doing those things. I had hernia repair surgery at the beginning of this year and it's kept me from the regular and vigorous exercise I need for general health, for the last several months. I haven't been producing as much art, or socializing as much, due to my psychotherapy internship responsibilities.
I was swimming (drowning) in my anxieties and I didn't even know it. Maybe it's like falling asleep on a glacier. I just thought I was stressed and that this would all pass.
Well, it didn't. It caught up with me and turned my life upside down with wondering what the heck was going on with my body.
When I addressed my anxiety, everything got better, and quite rapidly.
Here's what I did:
- I checked things out with Western (allopathic) medical exams
- I took my first yoga class (and plan to take more)
- I started acupuncture treatments
- I received a deep tissue massage (and scheduled my next one)
- I began meditating again
- I sought the support of friends and family
- I figured out what my anxiety triggers were and minimized or eliminated them
This is just the beginning. I plan to continue practicing self-care and seeking appropriate and fitting support for my well being. If what I try works, I'll do more of it. If it doesn't, I'll stop and try something else. And if whatever I do already is working fine, I'll leave it alone.
I'll go into more detail as I figure out how much I want to discuss, and probably write some articles over in my advice column (especially if I receive emails from people with specific anxiety issues!).
Given how alone I felt at times with my symptoms and feelings, I think it would be beneficial to have my own experience shared online, where people can find it and gain some sense of comfort, control, or at least a possible grasp of what might be going on with them if it's similar.
And of course, I'm not diagnosing anybody or saying that this and other posts will help somebody diagnose themselves--these types of posts are to help people begin a conversation with their healthcare providers--doctors, psychotherapists, massage therapists, etc.--about what might be happening, and to facilitate exploration of treatments.
I am much, much better now, so don't any of you worry. Having gone down this road and come back, I bring with me more empathy and understanding of what anxiety could feel like for other people. Hard won, this learning.