What if I told you that anxiety can sometimes be good for you? That’s right. That horrible, gut-churning feeling and runaway train of a mind can be the proverbial canary in a coal mine. It can warn you of toxicity entering in to your life before it affects you on a more profound level. I have had a few brushes of anxiety in my lifetime. It has taken me a few times to recognize it for what it is.
When the little bird first began to show signs of struggle, I was so out of touch and unaware of my mind-body connection that I didn’t recognize it as anxiety. I had just moved to Houston, my first really big city, and I couldn’t figure out why my heart was beating so quickly at night when I lay down to sleep. I would gulp for air and try to quell it, wondering if I had a heart condition. I went to a few doctors picked out of a phone book with these strange, unkempt offices and dismissive staff which served to amplify the beat of my already stressed heart. They hooked me up to various EKG machines, listened to my heart and asked me questions. After two or three dead-ends, one doctor finally suggested it must be anxiety. I was completely confused and taken aback. I was somewhat offended to think that someone was implying that I couldn’t handle life. And what’s more, I kept telling myself that I had absolutely nothing to feel anxious about. My life was just fine.
As I adjusted to my new job and surroundings, the anxiety slowly began to fade and then reared its head again as my marriage was failing. Once again, I didn’t recognize it for what it was and visited a few doctors about my unknown condition that was causing shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, TMJ, weight loss, shaking, insomnia, nervousness, and exhaustion. It would get worse when I was anticipating an event that I wasn’t interested in attending or spending time with people that didn’t act in line with my values.