Monthly Archives: June 2007

Anxiety

I can’t tell you that I fully understand anxiety.  I’m not sure why some people are controlled by their anxiety and some people are fully able integrate life into their day-to-day without being ruled by anxiety.

Anxiety is fear on caffeine pills.

Often times, binges come out of anxiety. The flood of seratonin that you get from the binge will help calm you down. Hellish bliss. Because then, comes all the anxiety from the binge.  Did I just make myself fat? Am I fat? Should I purge? What should I do? I just ruined it!

Anxiety is not simple. And it’s sneaky. Even if you try to interupt your thoughts, it will come back in other ways.

Delving into the anxiety is one way that I believe it will begin to dissipate.

Sometimes a thought pops up. And then, before you know it, your head is in the refrigerator. Possibly going back to the thought again and again and being with the anxiety a bit until the shock of it dulls a bit.

And then following the anxiety to the source of it.

for example: “I look fat… If I look fat, people won’t like me. If people don’t like me, no one will want to be around me. My boyfriend/girlfriend will leave me, I’ll never find someone to love me, I’ll be completely alone and then I’ll die alone and rats will eat my decaying body…”

Most anxiety, in it’s truest form is existential angst, the fear of death or being alone and dying alone.  Anything that we can do to lessen that fear, (which puts us in a place of uncomfortable, heightened state of vigilance) we will do. Bingeing is certainly one way to lessen anxiety.  But clearly not the healthiest. And it becomes a vicious cycle.

Other ways to work with anxiety.

1. Acceptance– when you accept that you have no control over life, an amazing sense of peace drapes over you. Also known as surrender.

2. Meditation– lessens anxiety. Allows you to be in the present moment.

3. Exercise– being in your body and in the moment gets you out of your head and helps you stop “future tripping.”

4. Sleep– getting enough sleep balances brain chemistry to help lessen anxiety as well.

Anger

Women are pretty. Women are sweet, petite, and certainly not angry.

Did you grow up thinking that?

I did.

I would either completely avoid my anger (starve myself) or stuff it all down (binge).  I would then deny that I had any anger, “I’m just not an angry person,” I’d tell my therapist.

Now, when clients say that to me,  and they often do, I remember how difficult my own process, of accepting and navigating my anger was (and continues to be).

Something that Padma Catell (my favorite professor in grad school) said always stands out for me and I have passed this on to many of my clients. “God gives us millions of emotions and we only let ourselves feel half of them…”

And it’s true. I think that one of the reasons women tend to stay away from anger is because we don’t want to be seen as out of control, desperate, or difficult.  We want to be easy, laid back, with a devil-may-care attitude. Like Holly Go-Lightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

But let’s not forget that she wrecked her whole bedroom, tearing pillows apart, feathers flying everywhere and generally went nuts when her brother Fred died. I say hurray to Holly G! You be in your process girl!  And maybe the uptight Prime Minister of Brazil thought she was too volatile and not right for him, but fake Fred (Baby) loved her.  No matter how nutso she went.  And he accepted her anger.  And he loved it.

Love, humanity, etc. will exist not despite your anger, but with it.

And there are fun, healthy ways to process anger.

1.) Angry letters, written with ballpoint pens that you can press hard with.

2.) Kickboxing.

3.) Screaming into a pillow

4.) Just being grumpy for a day or two and being okay with it. And then telling people, “I’m grumpy! So what! Let me be grumpy!” And finding people who are okay with that. Not everyone will be. Like, maybe in the workplace, not the perfect setting.

5.) Stomping up a hill in heavy boots.

6.) Throwing Punches

7.) Crying

My point is not that we should walk around angry, but at the same time, we can’t avoid it. It will get stuck, repressed, and that’s how we become toxic and depressed. Depression is anger turned inward, which is why so many women are diagnosed with depression.

Allow it to move through you and work itself out. Try to figure out if you are having the urge to stuff your anger. If you are, think of different ways that you  might be able to move that energy.