Anxiety: Awash

It starts with the feeling. That’s just it, at its core.

It’s a feeling or series of feelings that can wash over you, immobilize you, cloud your mind to the point that there’s no room for anything else.

“Awash” is the idea, the concept that comes to mind. Something like, you become awash with powerful, sometimes debilitating, suffocating feelings of uncertainty, doubt, panic. If you’ve ever been knocked over or otherwise under an ocean wave in the surf, you can imagine it. You feel, and might very well be, helpless, at least in the moment.

As I shared in the intro post, I’ve felt these feelings since I was seven years old. I haven’t always had the same symptoms and haven’t always described it the same way, but it’s been there under the surface, nearly my whole life.

Big picture, it’s become something I simply have to cope with as part of who I am. The feelings are typically strongest in the early morning, just as I wake up. It feels like uncertainty, and inability to respond to the things that lie ahead.


Looking back, I’d say it centers around that idea, that idea of not feeling like I’m good enough: for the job, the project, the relationship, the whatever it is. And at it’s worst, it’s crushing, like being completely The Object (not The Subject), not in control of my own destiny of the day, the week, the month, the year, the whatever time period you like.

And the flip side?

If and when I’m confident, there is practically no issue at all. I can barrel into the day with the exact opposite: uncertainty becomes certainty; inability to respond becomes certainty that I am able to do so.

It’s just weird. Or maybe it’s not so weird. Maybe it’s just life. My life, anyway.

I’ve gotten better over the last several decades in responding to these feelings; at least, sometimes it seems I’ve gotten better at it.

Prayer helps often times; expressing gratitude, taking responsibility for my faults, my mistakes, praying for others, so many others in far worse circumstance.

And then other times, even prayer and gratitude don’t immediately help much. Instead, I feel like I’m getting churned by wave after wave after way every day. I can’t find “up”; it’s all I can do to take the next step, the next breath, it feels like.

But it’s a continuum too, at least for me. I’ve not gone off the rails completely. Most people who know me might not guess what lies beneath the surface of my smile and humor and desire to help others, boost others…

they might not guess that I’m going through my second divorce (“Am I good enough to stay married?”),

that the learning curve I face at work seems considerable (“I’ve not done this job before, and I think I can do it, and then I’m getting better, getter better, and then, ‘Mistake Mistake Mistake’ — or so it seems”).

And when I write those two big challenges down, and take a few deep breaths,

I pretty well immediately feel more capable of seeing through these difficulties, to a better, brighter, future. It’s sort of like I remember that I CAN swim, in the midst of being rolled by wave after wave after wave…

And I get to the surface again, and I’m able to stabilize, and I take a few deep breaths…and I get to the calmer water, and I gradually make my way forward, again.

Still awash…but I’m able to cope, with a few deep breaths, and a few more, and a few more. Forward.

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