Autobiography of an Introvert

Anxiety: The Tension that Coils

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There have been many times in my life where I have allowed my emotions to get the better of me.  I use to blame it on my fiery Italian temper, but I have finally come to understand that it is more than that.  The ball of tension that I carry around in my chest is more than just a nod to my heritage; it is anxiety…a panic attack, barely held at bay.  I did not recognize it for what it was throughout the majority of my life.  It was my husband, who also suffers from anxiety and panic attacks that finally helped me to recognize that the tension,shortness of breath, and irritability were symptoms of anxiety that I have carried with me my entire life. 

Those sighs…that’s anxiety

Throughout my childhood, I would have periods of time when I could not catch my breath.  It was as if my chest would not expand wide enough to allow me to take in the air to fill my lungs. My dad often asked me what was wrong.  He thought my sighs were sighs of discontent. Dad didn’t recognize them as a frantic attempt to get in the oxygen I so desperately needed. The more I would try, the tighter my chest became and the more I would panic.  I didn’t really explain my issue to anyone.  My parents were worriers, and I didn’t want to be the cause of more concern.  Eventually these episodes subsided a bit. But I spent my teenage years with a rubber band ball of anger sitting heavy in my chest.  Those rubber bands would get tighter and tighter as I went through my day. They would eventually snap, and I would irrationally explode, completely losing my temper at the slightest irritant.

Attempting to gain control

As I spent more time in the classroom dealing with a variety of personalities and difficulties, I realized that I needed to get a grip on my emotions.  My ball of tension did not go away, but I slowly learned to control it. Essential oils helped.  I’ve found that diffusing lavender  in my classroom helps both me and my students find some serenity.  You cannot explode on every student that speaks to you disrespectfully, or every interruption that disturbs the flow of your lessons. If you do, your career as a teacher will not last very long. My love of the classroom and my students taught me self-control and helped me find tools to keep calm. It did not, however, make the panic and tension go away. In fact, if anything I think it made me more irritable once I got home.  That pressure had to go somewhere, and it was often misdirected towards the people I love the most.   

Support I didn’t even know I needed

It wasn’t until I met my husband that I accurately understood what I had been dealing with.  He didn’t just give me a name for my issues. The longer we were together, the less I felt the burdens of life stretch those rubber bands to their limits.  For the first time, I had someone that helped to shoulder my burdens; I had someone that listened and truly cared about the happenings of my day; I had a partner. There are  still plenty of days that I feel that ball of rubber bands tighten, my self-control threatening to explode; but with one all-consuming bear-hug from Mark, I can feel my tension start to ease.  Unfortunately, not everyone that suffers from anxiety can get a hug from my husband!  But you CAN take control of that tension.  Deep breathing, yoga, and essential oils are just a few inexpensive, easy tools that can help you relax.  Once you realize that YOU control that ball of tension, you can gradually feel it release.

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