Do You Really Have Anxiety or is There Something Else Going On?
Q: “I’ve been feeling so anxious and irritable lately. What is my problem? I have no idea what’s wrong with me.”
A: In my personal life, and through working with many women who experience anxiety, I have come to believe that anxiety and irritability can often present as surface emotions that result from repressed grief.
Here’s a personal story I want to share with you…
Over the summer my Grandmother passed away. I knew it would be hard to lose her, but I tried to tell myself that it would be okay. She lived a long life, she had a loving family, she was old and she was ready to go…
When I got the news that she had passed away, I was on a date with my husband. We were sitting in the sun on a beautiful patio enjoying dinner. Immediately, tears flooded my eyes but I pushed them back. I was in public and didn’t want people to see me crying. At her funeral, I was surrounded with family. We cried, shared memories of her, and felt the heartbreak of losing someone who was so very special to us.
After her funeral, I returned to work and my regular routine right away. Life moves so quickly that I didn’t really have time to grieve. As the days passed, I felt myself becoming more and more anxious and irritable. I was snapping at my family, my heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest, my thoughts were racing and scattered. I was exhausted but couldn’t fall asleep at night. I felt like a terrible mess.
I remember saying to myself, “What is wrong with me?! I don’t even know what my problem is!” I started to go down that ugly road of beating myself up in my head.
But then I stopped…
I got out my yoga mat. My thought was maybe I just needed to do some yoga to calm down. I stood there for a minute trying to get up the motivation to move my body. Suddenly, I felt exhausted and just laid down on my mat.
Then, the tears came. My first instinct was to stop them, push them down and get on with my day. But I didn’t. This time, I let them come. First just a tear or two fell down my face. Before I knew it, an ocean opened up inside me, and I sobbed and sobbed for the deep loss that I felt.
As I cried, I began to realize I was not only crying about losing my Grandmother, but also about other past hurts and difficult losses I had not given enough time or attention to. I let myself cry for a long time that day. I decided this time I would allow myself as much time to grieve as I needed. I wouldn’t put any timeline or expectations on when I was supposed to feel better.
Over the summer, I spent many days just letting tears fall whenever they came. I was gentle with myself. I allowed myself to let some things go undone and I said “no” to things I would have typically felt obligated to do. I took time to sit with my grief and let things be just as they were.
As the weeks past I eventually began to feel better, not perfect, but better. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. It was such a sense of relief. It felt like I could breathe again. My anxiety was gone, I was sleeping better and I was being gentle with my family and myself. Yes, I was sad. But sadness softens with time, and I knew I would be okay.
Mother Moon exists because I wanted to create a place for true and genuine healing for the body, mind and spirit. I think one of the most important parts of healing is being willing to be honest with yourself. You have to learn to be kind and loving towards yourself. This is a skill we develop over time, with practice.
Healing is not always pretty; sometimes it’s downright ugly for a while. But it’s all part of the process…and that’s okay. Grief can be a scary thing to explore. Sometimes it feels like if you really let yourself go there, you might never come back…but you will. There are always hidden treasures, growth and great beauty in grief.
Here are a few tips for working with grief and anxiety:
Sharing our stories shines light into dark places…
One of the most amazing parts of my job is that I get the honor of hearing so many women’s stories. Hearing your stories always leaves me in awe of how strong and resilient women are. It reminds me that we are not alone in our struggles.
Are you interested in participating in a free Fertility Support Group at Mother Moon?
I’ve been thinking about creating a support group for Mother Moon patients struggling with fertility and sexual health. I would love to know if any of you are interested in connecting with other strong and amazing women at Mother Moon. I think it would be amazing if you had to opportunity to meet each other, share your stories and inspire one another as much as you have inspired me!
Here are a few ideas I’m kicking around:
I want us to build this together. I would LOVE to hear any ideas you have!
Meghan E. Berg