After forgetting my midday pill until almost three, I found last night’s anxiety slowly welling back up inside of me. I was awoken at 1:20 or so in the middle of a panic attack, snapping awake as one would from a nightmare, though the dream itself had been rather pleasant. I didn’t make it back to sleep until nearly four, once the panic had subsided. Despite the lack of sleep, I did fairly well this morning, though that all caught up with me in the early afternoon.
I took the pill and decided to walk the dogs a little early so that I could change contexts and locations while I waited for the Lorazepam to kick in. For the first three quarters of a mile or so, I did my best to practice various forms of walking meditation - counting steps, breathing evenly, letting thoughts have their place and just pass through like clouds; stuff I’d learned in high school - mostly as a defense mechanism so that I would not dwell on things, as I know I do when I’m anxious.
After that, I spent the rest of the walk dissecting how I had felt and what was making me anxious, and why. I tried to keep my thoughts organized by thinking slowly and repeating the thoughts to myself in words afterward to be sure that I understood them (which worked only so well, as I didn’t record them anywhere).
I have a few things that trigger anxiety in my life, right now, and I think that a lot of them have their roots in self-esteem. When I get anxious about relationships, such as over the last few weeks, I tend to feel jealousy. The type of jealousy that I feel is rooted in a feeling of being redundant in a situation where feeling unique is important.
This hit very strongly over the last few weeks, and the reason it came up has to do with how I make polyamory work inside my head: each person in our lives plays specific roles for us and fulfills specific needs. Things work out in my relationships because each of us fills a different set of needs for each other. This caused an internal clash for me when a partner started getting closer to someone rather like myself. The clash arose because I have, throughout life, reduced myself in my mind to a few simple states, and, while I may be important to people for reasons other than those states, loved for facets other than what I have reduced myself to, I can’t necessarily make myself believe it.
The take away from this is, I think, to explore the ways in which I fit into my partners’ lives and work on improving a more holistic view of myself. I am not just a small collection of interests, but something more complete and I need to trust that that is what is loved, and not just some singular facet, whether or not there are needs that I’m fulfilling that others do not. I am still a firm believer that the more one loves, the more one is able to love, and the last few weeks have been such a hellhole that I stopped loving myself, and stopped being able to internalize that concept as well.
Similar thoughts have cropped up around work. The project has gone skittering from focus to focus without settling down long enough for us to even come up with an adequate roadmap. This has us all a little on edge, but given my past experiences with things like this getting out of hand, I feel incredibly anxious about this. The way in which this ties into self esteem is that I feel as though I must constantly prove to myself and others that I really know what I’m doing. This has always been a common theme: proof of competence. It’s hard to feel competent when upper management’s actions come off as schizophrenic, however, and so as that control is yanked from under me, I feel inadequate to complete even the simplest task, though I don’t (logically) think that’s the case.
The take away from this is more difficult. I could, like my coworkers, just roll with the changes and drop whatever I was doing at each hairpin and pick up the new task without comment. I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been trying to voice my opinion that we need to keep up our steady progress toward a goal - after all, agile does not mean schizophrenic. That hasn’t been working that well, though, and I don’t want to simply be a mid-level engineer all my life, so I’m wondering if I need to find some way to be more politic about things without necessarily feeling bad that I’m not accomplishing everything in half the time with flying colors or whatever.
Finally, since all my examples seemingly have to come in threes, my projects have been suffering due to the low opinion I hold for my own work. [a][s] in particular has languished somewhat as I’ve struggled to write something that I feel is worthwhile. I have grand ideas and I feel that I’m not a good enough writer or not smart enough to actually pull them off. My pride, however, won’t let me just drop them, and so I’m stuck in this tension between wanting to improve my writing and researching, but feeling like a failure about it in the first place.
I’m not sure what the best take-away from this is, other than to just buckle down and hammer one out, accepting that it won’t be as good as I envision it in my mind. In fact, that’s what I used to do, all the time. This is the biggest reason that I feel like the root of a lot of these ancillary symptoms of anxiety is low self-esteem. Even things that I don’t necessarily feel anxious about, such as [a][s]. I know that I don’t need to feel grand about myself and all the things I do in life all of the time but I’m curious: problems have been piling up, and if there is one root cause with one (obviously complex) solution, then I think it’s worth looking into. Even if the solution comprises several individual solutions unique to each resulting problem - exploring the depths of my relationships, being more politic at work while still getting stuff done, and writing the articles I need rather than the ones I want - in order to up the self-esteem, then I think it’s worth doing.