Ever since I can remember, I’ve suffered from anxiety attacks.  I’ve only just realized, though, that it was anxiety that I was suffering from.  I was treated for the physical symptoms of my attacks, but no one could ever figure out what was causing it.  I’m sure that part of it was that I hid my anxiety well.  Admitting that I was anxious would have required admitting that I wasn’t strong, that I needed help.  I was taught at a very young age that I shouldn’t need help.

I was also taught at a young age that I could never be good enough.  No matter what I did, it wasn’t enough to deserve love or attention.  Living with that knowledge caused even more anxiety – especially when it came time for any type of evaluation.  When I was in school, it took me a long time to realize that not everyone got A’s.  School was easy for me.  About the same time I realized that not everyone thought school was easy, I started to sense the expectations placed on me to get good grades.  Even though nothing really changed in me – school was still easy to me – the outside pressures created anxiety for me.  I felt the expectations of teachers, and I became anxious when it came time for test grades or report cards.  I worried that I wouldn’t live up to the expectations.  Grades were extremely important to my parents.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of doing well in school, but my grades were not what was important to me and definitely not what I wanted to be defined by.  That was a point of contention with my parents, but because I wanted them to be proud of me, I got anxious when they went to open houses at school – worried about what my teachers would tell them.  Would it be good enough?  Even with straight A’s, I still felt inferior.  My dad paid me to get good grades, but what I wanted was not monetary but emotional.  I needed positive reinforcement.  What I got was just what I could do better.  I’m all for constructive criticism – I want to be the best I can – but there has to be some sort of balance.  All I ever heard was the negative, so that’s all I ended up believing about myself.

Currently, I find the same anxiety at work.  It’s review time.  The other day, I mentioned to a friend that I was starting to get anxious because it’s review time.  Her response was basically, ‘You realize that you have nothing to worry about, right?’  In all honesty, there is a part of me that knows that I am good at my job, and I go above and beyond my technical job description and what I get paid for.  But there is a louder part of me that says, ‘You’re still not good enough.  All anyone notices is what you’re not doing, what you should be doing, and what you’ve done wrong.’  This anxiety is so typical for me.  The goal is to reduce that anxiety – to be comfortable and confident in who I am and what I’m capable of.  I’ve gotten better in the last couple of years, but I still struggle with the voices that cause me anxiety.  That anxiety contributes to the feeling of drowning.  Alleviating some of that anxiety is a key to learning to swim…



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3 responses to “Anxiety

  1. I love your courage to reappraise your own situation.

  2. Michael Townsley

    Let me start by saying I absolutely understand where your coming from. Although I was never pushed to get good grades in school, I had so many other factors in my life that caused me to have severe anxiety. All I can say is do whatever you can to try and get that anxiety dealt with.
    In February I had a heart attack which besides having a clogged artery the doctor said due to my high anxiety levels it was also a leading factor in my attack. I am now on a medication I take once a day and it helps me tremendously. I no longer have any anxiety at all. It really mellowed me out and I don’t worry about things like I used to.
    Just find out what the best thing would be for you whether its medication, or to seek professional help or some other solution, as it can really affect your health.

  3. Carrie

    Well written, Geri! and I could relate to a lot of it.

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