I confess. I have anxiety. Anxiety about the upcoming school year, about COVID and the Delta variant, about the health of my friends and family members, immediate and extended, and about everything I need to get done. Heck, I seem to feel anxious about everything in my life. But isn’t having a little anxiety or worrying about things normal?
I am a worrier, and I have been my entire life. I worry about EVERYTHING. Even now, as I sit in front of my computer, trying to decide on a topic, I am worried.
Growing up, I worried so much that I had daily stomach aches, probably generated by too much stomach acid caused by anxiety and stress, undoubtedly from worrying. It’s a vicious cycle. I was a sickly kid, always complaining about some ailment, but I couldn’t help it; my mind was always playing tricks on me.
To help soothe my stomach, my mom gave me Maalox every time I complained of a stomachache. Let me tell you, that stuff was AWFUL!! To this day, just the mere thought of having to drink that white, chalky liquid awakens my gag reflexes.
For those of you who remember Maalox and what it tasted like, you understand. If you’ve never had to take Maalox, consider yourself lucky! Maalox was supposed to soothe the stomach. But, for me, getting it into my stomach was problematic due to the aroma, texture, and flavor. Unfortunately, it was a necessary evil in my world.
Day after day, I felt anxious because I couldn’t stop the cycle of worrying. I worried about my parents, money, clothes, school, band, gymnastics, boys, etc. You name it, I worried about it. I AM that “worried” emoji or meme you see posted on social media.
Because I was constantly worried or anxious, I drove my parents crazy. So much so that my dad would always say to me, “Sit down, Am, you’re making me nervous.”
I was always on the move or at the very least doing something that involved moving; honestly, I hated doing nothing. If I wasn’t outside playing with friends, riding my bike, roller skating, or swimming, I was at home cleaning the house, fighting with my sisters, or cooking dinner. You know, basic kid stuff; I think you get the idea.
Even to this day, I don’t enjoy sitting around unless I need a break or I’m binge-watching my favorite shows. And if I am sitting around, I’m constantly fidgeting, or my leg is bouncing up and down.
I never understood WHY my dad would tell me that I was making him nervous. However, looking back, it has now become apparent to me that I was an anxious child.
And for some reason, I never associated my worrying with anxiety. I didn’t have the classic symptoms, or if I did, I didn’t connect the symptoms I was experiencing, nor did I understand its effects on me. I believed the sensations I was feeling were normal or somehow related to hormones [which most women know wreak havoc on their bodies.]
And then, one day last summer, I experienced an intense screaming sensation inside my body that wouldn’t stop. I’ve felt this before, but not nearly as bad. It felt like my blood was screaming at me, and I didn’t know how to stop it. And that’s when it hit me; this was my body’s response to my anxiety.
Since the Pandemic started, I have walked 2-4 miles per day, followed immediately by a 1-2 mile bike ride and I always felt great after my workouts!
However, there were days when I didn’t exercise. It was on those days that I became aware of the screaming sensation inside my body.
So, when this feeling would occur, I would go into my backyard, jump up and down for a few minutes, and suddenly, the screaming would stop, and my body would feel better. I know, it’s an odd way of relieving the anxiety; I guess you could say I have the “Jumpies.”
I’m pretty sure the mental image of me jumping up and down is quite entertaining, but, as silly as it sounds, I always feel better afterward.
Anxiety comes in many forms and affects EVERY body differently. After many years, I finally recognized that my body’s need for movement is its defense mechanism to the anxiety that screams inside me.
So, if you ever see me walking or riding my bike, wave hello, and if you ever see me jumping up and down for no reason, feel free to join me, and maybe you’ll feel better too!
“Am’s View” by Andrea Palladino Perez is posted monthly.