I once did this self-help exercise that asked me to list the happiest, most exciting moments in my life. That wasn't too hard to do. Graduation from high school and then college were natural first picks. I quickly made a list detailing my life's defining moments. The second part of the exercise asked the following: "Which part or parts of you were present for each of these events?" I put some thought into it and wrote down my answers. As I looked over my responses I noticed something surprising; "Anxious Melody" was the only "part" of me that was present at every single event.
So what does that say about me? Well, it's pretty clear that whenever something big happens, whether good or bad, I feel anxious. I'd say that this is probably true for change as well (i.e., whenever there is a big change in my life, whether good or bad, I feel anxious). I don't think I'm unusual in this aspect. Many people experience anxiety during periods of change and/or uncertainty. What I think is sort of sad, however, is that anxiety is the predominant emotion I experience when good things happen in my life. If you recall, the exercise I mentioned earlier asked me to identify the happiest, most exciting moments of my life. One would logically assume that a person would feel happy and excited during these times. But not me - oh no. Me, I just feel anxious.
So what should I do about it? Well, I've simply accepted it. Some would say that it is simply not acceptable to feel anxious in situations where most people feel happy. Some would say that it's a problem that needs to be treated. I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was five years old. I've been developing ways to adapt to and cope with it for most of my life. I've received treatment and have been taking medication to manage my symptoms for over ten years. Most of the time I don't feel anxious. This is an improvement for me and I am grateful for it. And still, when big things happen in my life I feel anxious. I probably always will. I just try to cope with it in healthy ways and find hope in knowing that I'll get through the transition and the anxiety will eventually fade.
I share this story for a few reasons. For one, I think it is important to work to address and solve problems whenever possible. When you've done all you can do, however, it is important to know when to stop fighting against what is and to simply accept it. Secondly, I think anyone who has ever struggled with anxiety will probably be able to identify with some of what I've said. And lastly, it's relevant to me at this particular point in time in my life. I'm getting married on Saturday and my anxiety has been off the charts this past week. So wish me luck...