I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Which as far as I'm concerned is just a fancy way of saying that I worry excessively over everything. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I live in a constant state of anxiety (although sometimes it feels that way). But when something makes me "anxious," it fucks me up pretty good for a while. And that right there is (part of) why I NEED to get out of this fucking city and start having a better quality of life.
Below is a pic of my newest tattoo (keep in mind this pic was taken the day it was done, so it's still healing & shiny). There is always a reason behind every tattoo I get, and this one is no different.
(Tattoo by Rick Schreck @ House of 1000 Tattoos, Middlesex, NJ)
When I first told my artist what I wanted done, he was disappointed because he's used to me coming in and wanting big pieces. And there was of course some joking in the vein of "doesn't your subconscious kind of take care of that for you?" You would think so, wouldn't you? Unfortunately for me, it doesn't always. When I get stressed to the breaking point (which happens more often than you'd think), I find myself holding my breath and clenching my teeth, and I actually have to remind myself to BREATHE. So the logic is that seeing the word on my wrist every day will help me to remember to breathe, to slow down, to calm down.
I've had the tattoo for less than a month, so I'm still researching whether or not it works. However - and this is off the subject, but it's my blog so I don't care - the minute the needle touched my skin that day, I felt everything in my body relax, and all of the tension left my muscles in a big rush. I'm sure that sounds weird to anyone who doesn't have tattoos, and maybe to some who do.
But when I call it "tattoo therapy," I mean it.
I don't do the traditional therapy thing. I've tried, but I can't do it. I cannot sit there in a room where I'm not even allowed to have a cigarette and tell some stranger what I'm feeling and why. No thank you. I know it works for some people, and more power to you if it does. It's just not for me.
And then there's a whole other aspect of the anxiety thing...
An example: I have to drop my Chuckles off at the vet on Tuesday morning for an ultrasound (that's a whole other post - I can't get into it right now or I will cry). The very thought of leaving him there brings on an anxiety attack. That's when I feel that tightness in my chest, that tightness that feels like a bubble that's waiting to come up through my throat and out of my mouth in one long, endless scream. But I can't let it happen because I'm afraid that once I start screaming I won't be able to stop. Yes, I'm serious.
To that end, I use the following breathing exercise when I feel it beginning:
Breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of 4 (Mississippi, of course).
Hold for a count of 4.
Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4.
It doesn't always work, especially not if I wait too long after I feel the attack coming on. But when I do it right at the beginning of an attack, I always feel a sense of wonder that it actually worked and I'm breathing normally again.
Do I want to constantly be riddled with anxiety? No, of course not. It sucks. It flat out sucks. So I have to try to find ways to control it. I'm all about better living through chemistry, so I make sure I stay on my Xanax. I have the breathing exercise. I have my tattoo therapy. I have my weed. I have this blog. I have my family and friends. I have my animals and my fiance. And if all of that fails, I either end up angry or crying. I prefer angry. For me, anger is easier to control than sadness. So here's an angry song that's been stuck in my head for days, probably because the main words to the song are "breathe with me."
The Prodigy - "Breathe"