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One of the Things I've Learned About Anxiety

I’m a mental health therapist and anxiety coach by trade. I’m a wife and mother at heart; an author and public speaker with a lot to say about cancer survivorship, making meaning out of difficult situations and healing anxiety. And even with all of that as part of my resume and life’s work, even though those things are part of my being, I still struggle with it all.

I had a really rough visit with one of my doctors today. My endocrinologist. I was diagnosed with a curious form of diabetes in 2001, just one day before my birthday. When I asked the diagnosing doctor what that meant she said, “Don’t drink alcohol and don’t eat cake,” clearly referencing my birthday. Wow. Like a slap across the face almost. That’s what today felt like.

My “curious form” of diabetes doesn’t fit into the stereotypical Type 1 or Type 2 as it is defined in medical terms. They have diagnosed me as Type 2 but I don’t fit the criteria and have been treated as Type 1 in the past. Most of the doctors I have had have been baffled by my presenting symptoms and response to medications. I’m very sensitive to them.

I’ve written before about softening around getting a shot, thinking of that moment differently, not so that the shot wouldn’t hurt, but perhaps so it wouldn’t hurt as much and the experience would be different for me if I opened myself to the experience. I would have prepared myself and softened for my appointment today if I had known what was coming.

My doctor took a tone with me she has never had before. The results of some of my blood sugar testing in the last few months were higher than is healthy and she was upset. To be fair, she has worked with me as I have tried different nutrition systems, exercise regimens, and etc to try to get things under control. Today it just seemed as though she had had enough. I was put on two new medications.

This was so disheartening for me. With my anxiety the way it is, I have already been preparing myself to take the first new med. We never know how our body might react to the introduction of a new chemical and so I’m nervous. But I also know I need help with managing my blood sugar. It’s a catch 22 and, ugh, I hate it. Anyone else struggle with the anxiety of new medication or treatment? I’m certain I am NOT alone!

But one of the things I’ve learned about being anxious is, the feeling isn’t always there to stop me from doing something. Sometimes I do get the sense that the sensation is a warning, but other times I know it is nerves. Other times I’m able to recognize I’ve hopped back on the hamster-wheel-of-worry and am working myself up into a tizzy with the cycle of “what if” thoughts. Those are never productive (neither is a hamster wheel) and always serve to tire me out (like a hamster wheel might).

Fear is not there to stop us from taking the step forward. Bravery doesn’t mean we won’t feel fear. Bravery and fear coexist so that as we step forward into the unknown, all the while feeling afraid, we are made stronger. It’s the tough spots that sharpen us and make us more equipped for the next challenge.

So, even after a slap in the face, I’ll do what I must, walk forward in fear, take my medicine, and become stronger for it.


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