I wish I could say yes to joy, to being happier.
There are many emotions I am familiar with, but joy and happiness are rarely one of them. OK is the operative word. If someone asks how I am doing, I stretch the truth and say that I am “darn glad to be here.” Now while that isn’t a lie, it is often far from my real expectations.
I am familiar with the change triangle and the emotions attached to each section.
I am proud of myself for mostly getting beyond defensive actions that shield me from my emotions. Now that I am out to experience them again, putting up defenses is counterproductive. Yet while saying that, I am sure that I am still doing it. The other top corner is where Inhibitory emotions reside. If I was paying money, I could say that I am getting my money’s worth. Even now, at the age of 67, I feel guilty about things. Often, I feel guilty for things I could not have done.
But that’s how my guilt works.
Until I spent time in 5 East, I would never have thought of myself as a person with anxiety. But instead of joy and happiness, I have all the classic signs and symptoms of anxiety.
The Mango Clinic offers 10 signs and symptoms of anxiety. They are:
If you find yourself unable to stand still, it’s possible you suffer from restlessness. This means you have a strange need to be always moving, even when it means being in place. While this symptom is quite common in children and teens who have anxiety, adults can have it, too. It’s one of the more notable signs of anxiety, though just because you’re restless does not mean you have anxiety.
Phobias constitute a significant part of anxiety, as it involves having an intense fear of things that, most commonly, does not cause such fear in others. This can include the fear of being late for something, getting hurt, or running into something that will frighten you. While phobias towards animals and insects are common forms, there is also fear of anything involving public or social events or places.
While being chronically tired is not in itself a sign that you have anxiety, it can still count as a symptom. It may not seem as obvious as some other symptoms, but it has been seen in some who do have anxiety. It can occur regularly and be the result of other symptoms, such as excessive stress or panic attacks.
Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get to sleep is not so uncommon among those with anxiety. Insomnia and trouble with sleep are then heavily associated with the disorder and can be a severe cause for disruption in one’s daily life. If you have had insomnia in the past (such as in childhood), your risk of anxiety can be higher.
Everyone worries about something, but having anxiety means worrying about every little thing. In this specific case, it means worrying so much that it interferes with your daily life and has a high number of triggers for becoming worried. It’s a significant symptom of anxiety, so if you find yourself worrying excessively about everything, you should consult with a medical professional.
Lack of Concentration
Due to how anxiety can make the mind race, it should come as no surprise that concentrating is something some will have trouble with. When combined with the other possible symptoms, difficulty concentrating becomes something that happens as a result. If you are agitated, paranoid, and can’t stand still, you are more likely to be distracted and unfocused.
A panic attack (also known as an anxiety attack) happens when you start to sweat, your heart races, and you get into a fight-or-flight state of mind. These attacks are usually out of irrational fear that is all in your head, though they can result in real physical reactions. How long they last vary, but it can be several minutes.
Since anxiety causes your body to act as if something is horribly wrong, you might find yourself constantly feeling overwhelmingly frustrated. Agitation is a common sign of anxiety since you will feel extremely uneasy whenever you start getting anxious.
If you’re feeling uneasy and uncomfortable all of the time, it’s likely that you’re feeling a bit paranoid. With anxiety, you may start to worry about your next panic attack, whether something will happen to you, or maybe someone is conspiring against you. All of this adds to a person’s paranoia because of their other anxiety symptoms.
While anxiety can lead to your mind thinking about things that cause you stress, it can do the same to your body. If you’re suffering from acute anxiety, you are just as likely to feel physically unwell in some capacity, whether it’s headaches or stomach sickness.
READ the entire article: 10 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety – Mango Clinic
For me, restlessness and insomnia are the cornerstones of my anxiety.
It has been years since I have slept through the night. A great night is when I only wake up twice. Often, after going to bed around 10 PM. I wake up at 11:30 PM, 12:30 AM, 2 AM, 3:30 AM, and 5:00 AM, and then between 6:00 AM and 7 AM, I go ahead and get up. The other night I got up and read for an hour in the living room. Going back to bed, I continued my wake-ups.
But the next day, I felt tired at work, and sleepy when I drove home.
This was not what I expected. And dealing with hints of anxiety is not helping me feel joy and happiness. I am one of the most blessed people I know. And yet I haven’t had a real smile on my face for years. Even on the summit of Kilimanjaro, where 15 years after adding this to my bucket list, I finally climbed it.
One would think I’d be smiling from the summit (19,341 feet) to the last gate leaving the mountain.
And while there are a few upward ticks of my mouth in several pictures, I am not seeing anything remotely looking like pure joy. Or just plain old joy. And excitement is only visible when forced. I did make a scene over being in Africa and meeting our guides, but that was a stab at excitement.
Joy should have been everywhere for the 10 days we were in Africa.
And joy should have followed me home, stuck on my face like my wind and sunburned lips. Yet I am writing several weeks later, and joy has yet to surface. Now I did remark many times that “we were in Africa, and we are climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.” I am pretty sure those comments had a hint of joy in them.
But even those moments were far from the emotion of joy.
So my next go-to move is to find a new goal, a new adventure. Perhaps something that will inspire joy. Going to Katmandu and climbing Mount Everest is gaining traction. One of my sisters would go at the drop of a hat. She has completed 5K races and I think a triathlon, among other endurance tests. Seeing her on Everest is a logical next step.
Yet the real question is not what’s the next adventure, but will I find joy participating in it?
Ever hopeful, my sights are set on the emotion of joy. Being joyful would be a huge step in letting my depression know who runs my body. Right now, depression and some anxiety have me stuck in inhibitory emotions. Getting to the bottom of the triangle, while desired, has many challenges. Being able to experience excitement and joy again is my goal and my focus.