(Real Talk) Anxiety/Fear

This is a rambling post, but I need to just get it off my chest and out there. To make myself not feel alone in the matter and to maybe begin to better myself and actually trying to fix the issue. Also, hitting publish was really hard, but I know you guys appreciate it when I’m honest. Something I always strive to be.

This morning I spent 2 hours talking myself into making a phone call to the bank to ask them to waive some overdraft fees (long story short, I was sick and didn’t make it into the bank and completely forgot about it until it was too late). I got completely worked up over it and cried. Finally I just made the phone call and guess what, it lasted a total of 2 minutes. And they put the money back into my account.

Two hours of getting all worked up over a two minute phone call that ended in my favor.

It’s freaking ridiculous. But this sort of thing happens often in my life. I start thinking of something I need to do (phone call/email/blog post/text/in person convo) and then I come up with the worst case scenario. I will be rejected, the person will laugh at me, someone will stare, I’ll make a fool of myself, that person will think I’m bothering them, and so on. Then it takes me an hour/a day/a month/a year to do whatever it was. And even sometimes it never gets done (like those yoga classes I wanted to try that Mr. B got me for my birthday/skype calls to friends/cards sent to people/dinner dates) and then I just get upset all over again that I didn’t do it.

The funny thing is when I do actually tackle the task, it very rarely ends horribly. And all that anxiety was for nothing. Rarely do I remember that though when a new task comes along. The whole cycle just starts over again.

I really do believe this stems from when I was overweight and was rejected or made fun of for doing things. I wasn’t always appreciated by “friends” and sometimes was a bother to them. So, now I still feel like that. I don’t make a great effort of keeping in touch with people who are actually really good friends because I feel like reaching out to them is bothering them. That they’re going to be busy with whatever in their own lives and not have time to talk with me. Which really does isolate me and causes me to feel like I have no friends locally to hang with. Then I get upset with Mr. B when he goes out with his friends and leaves me at home. It boils down to being jealous that he has those friends. And the silly thing is I do too, I just don’t make an effort to see them.

Making new friends is another subject that’s tough for me as well. I fear that people won’t like me (again thank you former self for this) and won’t want to be my friend. Again, ridiculous, but it’s a real thing. This fear absolutely paralyzes me and makes me look like a stuck up person because I don’t ever go out of my way to meet new people. In a social setting I will cling to the few people I do know and sit there quietly for the most part. About a month ago a girl invited me to her girl’s night and I hardly said anything for fear that I would sound dumb or they wouldn’t like me. (I haven’t been invited to hang with them since. I’m sure they just thought I was bored the entire time. I wasn’t, just anxious and scared.) I don’t go to fitness classes, talk to people in my Weight Watchers meeting (that I attend), or strike up conversations with those around me for the same reasons.

This stuff makes me sell myself short a lot. The anxiety builds, tears flow, fear appears, and I just stop before I even get started. There’s so much I want to do in life, but don’t. Like right now I have really been toying with the idea of writing an e-book (about what I have no idea), but haven’t even just started because I think of all the horrible things. I do want to attend a yoga class, make new friends, take a knitting class, become a health coach, and better my blog. But again, I have myself failing before I’ve even given it a shot.

Again, I know this is all ridiculous, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Mr. B does help with calming me down, but sometimes I wish I could JUST DO IT. I don’t know how to make it completely better, but I know there are things I can do to make it somewhat better. Like instead of thinking of all the negative, start thinking of the good that could come from whatever I want to do. And I could just start reaching out to those friends and know that I’m probably not bothering them, that they’re probably just wanting to hang out with me too.

Will I ever be cured of all of this anxiety and fear? Probably not, but if I could just get a little better each day, then I’d be okay.

How about you, is this something you deal with? Any tips?

  • Amy S

    You are SO not ridiculous Brooke! I often think I do that to myself because I have spent so many years overweight and feeling down about how people think about me… so I don’t want to be the one who jumps up and speaks my mind… But really I agree with you… we need to just try to get through the anxiety and remember that more often than not the task at hand does not end in disaster! GOod luck hun and bare your heart …. anytime! We all understand and a lot of us can relate !!!!!! 100%%%%

  • kim r.

    I love your blog. I have never commented before but this post is so me. I am the same in so many ways that you have just wrote- I worry about every single little thing. Will it be okay. Will I make someone mad. When I make the smallest of mistakes at work it’s like I just shut the company down- I cry in secret and literally shake because I fear how upset my superiors might be with me. You are not alone. I find that- just like with my depression when it shows up- I have to do a lot of inner talking to myself. I have to literally sit quietly and tell myself that it’s okay. Not everyone will like me, not every day at work is going to be perfect, not every thing I try is going to be something that works out or that I even like to do….but it’s worse not trying and not reaching out to find out if someone really likes me a lot or not showing up for work- or so many other things because then you are left with never knowing how great life could maybe be or what you could have done if you had just tried. I would have cried about calling the bank too- but after I talked myself down I would have called- and isn’t it great that you did! Go Brooke!! Anyhow- I am 45 years old and I am still going through this all the time. I think it may be with me for life- but I’m going to continue to fight it and push on and I hope you do too because I think you rock and life is too short to let anxiety win ♥

  • Lindsey Prochazka

    Brooke,
    I suffer from anxiety too (just reading about your bank situation put a knot in my stomach…anything money related is the worst for me). It’s not something I’ve always dealt with. My anxieties don’t stem from the same things as yours but mine do often have to do with confidence.
    I worry about the future. I worry about having children, whether we’ll get pregnant easily or struggle. I worry about whether or not my kids will be healthy or if I’ll be a good mother. I worry about whether my current relationship will last forever and if not, why it falls apart. Just typing this right now brings tears to my eyes. I hate checking my bank account. Whether I have $30 or $3000 in there, I just hate looking at it. I hate trying to budget…I hate even thinking about my student loans. Money is THE WORST.
    It hasn’t happened as much recently, but when I was really depressed 2 years ago, I would have massive debilitating panic attacks. I would call my boyfriend (while he was working) and he’d take time away from his job to calm me down and reassure me. He was so good and helpful and never made me feel like a burden (but I felt so selfish which would make me feel worse). Aren’t we lucky to have such caring guys who love us, regardless of this stuff?! So lucky.
    So many times I have thought about blogging about my past depression and the anxiety that I still struggle with but there is such an awful stigma attached to all of it. You are so brave – thank you for posting this.
    You are not alone. Unfortunately, I don’t have any words of advice to help but hopefully knowing that’s it’s NOT just you…helps even a little bit.
    Deep breath.
    @lindseypro

    • Thank you, Lindsey! You’re right, sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is helpful!

  • I completely understand all of this! I’m the same way. I felt like I could have written this whole post. I just started a blog and have a small panic attack every time I publish a post. I start thinking that everyone I know is reading it and that spirals to full on anxiety!

    • Blogging is scary, but knowing that whatever you post could potentially help someone is super rewarding!

  • Alison T.

    I am literally 30 minutes away from a doctor’s appointment because the anxiety in my life is just too much. Yesterday I had a panic attack for the first time….I have never felt so scared. It felt like a weakness to admit that I am sometimes paralyzed by fear, but I can’t do it anymore. I get it, I do. I hope you can get a handle on it, and me too, for that matter!!

    • I hope your doctor’s appointment was helpful! Panic attacks are scary! I get them when driving in really bad rain. Not fun what so ever.

  • Hi Brooke,
    You could have been posting about me! I have alot of anxiety regarding money issues and weight. I have been overweight for more than 15 years. I have been working on it through depression and migraines without success. I have recently found your blog and feel like i am not alone in how I feel, and that the anxiety I feel is also normal. I have all of the tools to JUST DO IT! so what holds us back?

  • tiff

    I have anxiety issue too. Anyone who knows me will say I do not, but i SOO do. A couple of years ago my DH and I took our 2 oldest children to ohiocon (it is not spelled that way). It is an anime convention. I was so out of my comfort zone. I don’t think I let go of DH hand for a straight hour. I finally relaxed and enjoyed myself. By the end of the convention I was brave enough to go up to this guy and ask him can I take his picture.

    My advice to you is take it slow, but make an effort. Take that yoga class, talk to a memeber or 2 in the meeting you go to.

    I think your blog is wonderful. You have a lot to offer the world, I couldn’t image the words face to face be anyless insightful. Whether they are words typed or spoken they both come from the heart.

    Hang in there girl!!

    • Baby steps is what it takes. That’s how I lost the weight, I need to take that approach to this as well. Thank you!

      And that picture is hilarious!

  • Sue

    Brooke – I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this post!! I’ve followed your blog for awhile, though I don’t even remember how I actually found you, but I’m glad I did!

    I’m realizing more and more how much of an issue I have with fear and anxiety. And I didn’t even know it! I just figured I was being anti-social and needed to knock it off and try harder. Well, several things you wrote fit me to a T! I have a lot to think about.

    Anyway, after reading this I was inspired to finally make a phone call that I have been DREADING. For all the reasons you said. And it turned out just fine. So, thank you!!

  • AneleatSuccessAlongtheWeigh

    I used to have really bad anxiety and it was at it’s worst when my weight was at it’s highest. (No coincidence I’m sure) I got physical symptoms (nausea, near vomiting which I’m petrified to do, headaches, dizziness, etc). My GI doc suggested meditation and breathing exercises to get through the episodes and after a year, I was able to spot the signs, deep breathe through them and haven’t had episodes like that in at least 4-5 years.

    What you described was what a good friend of mine learned from an anxiety doctor as “catastrophizing.” This doctor recommended this book that did AMAZING things for my friend so I read it too and anyone I’ve ever recommended it to has said it changed their lives. It’s called The Worry Cure by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D. My friend keeps a notebook that keeps track of the situation they’re facing, automatic negative thought, what feelings it brought up, to label it (I found this link and I think these are on the worksheet she showed me- http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/0002153) , write out the worst that could happen then write what actually happened so you can go back to see how many times did what you think would happen actually happen. I don’t know if any of this will help you but couldn’t hurt to mention!

    • I like the tip of writing down what’s the worst that could happen and then going back and writing down what actually happened.

      And I will give that book a look!

  • Stephanie @AthleteAtHeart

    I absolutely deal with anxiety, especially when it comes to putting myself in new social situations where I don’t know anyone. It’s silly because it has only been in the last two years that this has happened (since my depression started)… before that I was the most outgoing person I knew!

    The only thing that helps me sometimes is just sitting for however long it takes and repeating… its going to be okay, its going to be okay. Because our thoughts can spiral out of control in a negative way and it sounds silly but this brings me back sometimes.

    Just know that personally, I do want to be your friend. I really appreciated the FB message you sent me today because I was feeling the same way… like maybe you didn’t want to be my friend or like me because when we’ve tried to plan things in the past it never pans out. Silly that we are both thinking this, huh? And then just sitting home alone! Please give me a call next time Mr. B goes out with his friends!

    It will be OKAY.

  • Ahhhh anxiety! I didn’t think about it that much until my young son had some extreme issues (a weather phobia). As I researched and we got counseling and medication for him, I realized that so much of what I was learning was ME too. I can call customer service without issue (just dealing with Comcast yesterday) but ask me to drive somewhere unfamiliar and I’ll melt down. Crowds stress me out and don’t even talk about travel. Hubby is going to New York in a week … I was invited to go along and just the thought of it made me physically sick. Something that other women will kill to do completely stresses me out. My mom/SIL had a little “intervention” at Christmas saying I should talk to my doctor (they are both on some minor meds they say have helped a lot). I haven’t yet … just thinking about THAT causes anxiety. The anticipation anxiety is often so much worse than the actual event.

    • Tara

      This! Anticipation anxiety! I definitely have it.

    • YES! The anticipation anxiety is horrid. But then the actual event happens and it’s not horrible at all. Must remember that.

  • Marjorie

    Eeeek! Sorry you are dealing with this. I will say that it does get easier with age. You sound very much like me in my 20s. I am now 35, and as I get older it gets easier to learn to validate myself internally…rather than worry too much about what other people think. Side note: most people are more worried about themselves to be critiquing you anyway.

    I think it is absolutely true that it can stem from historical rejection. It did/does for me too.

    But you know what? Everybody gets rejected. Yes, even the skinny ones. Even the ridiculously beautiful ones. It is universal. The more I realize that, the less I take it personally when it happens to me AND the more caring I try to be toward others. It’s pretty much statistically (math nerd alert!) going to happen from time to time.

    Chin up! You are doing great! Just opening up and talking about it (and pushing publish!) does help. Because we are all a lot more alike than we are different. And you are not alone! XO, Marjorie

    • Does it really get easier? I sure hope so!

      And you’re right about everyone else worrying about themselves and not me. I really do need to remember that!

  • Alecia

    B, you’re not crazy! Anxiety is the pits. I only -really- get anxiety in regards Mr. Johnson and money issues… I never would have taken you for the type to have anxiety though! We’re all allowed to have our little quirks – no one is perfect. (: All that really helps me is breathing… sounds super cliché though.

    • Oh I’m far from perfect! The perfect stuff makes it online most of the time. Haha. The imperfect stuff builds until I just have to purge in a blog post.

      And don’t even get me started about money! I’m constantly worried about it.

  • I deal with worrying all the time, and I try to remember this quote …

    Some anxiety is good – it’s a natural response to doing something new and different. But don’t let it hold you back. Like you said, each day you can get a little bit stronger. <3

    • That quote is so freaking true! And you’re right about it being good, but letting it hold me back is not. I’m getting there. 🙂

  • Lynne

    This is post is me to a t. I have all of these anxieties and I know without a doubt that it stems from the excess weight I’ve had all my life. Mine also comes from a place of not wanting to stand out and to draw as little attention to myself as possible. It seems to be a little better as I’m losing weight, but there hasn’t been this 180 that I expected.

  • Allie

    I feel like you’re tapping into my head right now. I’ve been reading a book about binge eating (Food: The Good Girl’s Drug) so I’ve been thinking a lot about *why* I binge. I’ve slowly realized that I have some anxiety issues, but I didn’t realize it for so long because as soon as I started to feel anxious and uncomfortable, I ate. I’ve also realized that part of binging was sort of ‘taking myself out of the game’. Success and responsibility are anxiety inducing, so I cut them at the knee by eating. Take those yoga classes – I can’t tell you how good they’ve been for anxiety.

  • Karen H.

    You just described me perfectly, except I also have depression to go along with that. I didn’t even know I had an anxiety disorder until I started therapy for my depression a few months ago. I will email you some of the tools they are giving me to cope with the anxiety. They help a lot and it’s all about practicing them – teaching ourselves new habits to break the cycle.

    You are so amazing and strong for sharing this with us all! 🙂 Just another reason you are one of my “she-roes”! 🙂

    • Karen H.

      Hi again Brooke! I finally scanned the pages of my workbook and emailed them to you at your blog email. I hope they help. 🙂

      • Thanks again so much for doing that Karen! 🙂

        • Karen H.

          Not a problem at all! 🙂

  • Amanda Fitzpatrick

    Brooke, have you heard of social anxiety disorder? Some of what you are sharing sounds very much like it to me. I struggled with this for years when I was younger (only later did I find out it runs in my family!) until I got into counseling and tried some medication. It worked wonders — not that it solved all my problems, but I felt like it gave me a more level starting ground, you know? The ability and clarity to think rationally about social situations and challenges, without being paralyzed by the fear of humiliation. It’s been almost 15 years since I was diagnosed, and I have been medicine-free for 3 years (I also had depression issues which the medicine was helping to regulate too, so that’s part of why I stayed on it so long), and things are great. I would say I’m almost completely free of this issue and its symptoms, which is pretty amazing to me. Anyway, just wanted to encourage you — even if it’s not social anxiety disorder, seeking a counseling or diagnostic appointment with a specialist might be really helpful for you. Obviously there can be anxiety wrapped up in going and pouring out all your fears to a new person (!), but it’s worth it. Promise. Best wishes to you — and bravo, by the way, for your HUGE COURAGE in sharing this!!!

  • Yes, I struggle with this as well. I do tend to catastrophize and, of course, there have been times when I’ve been right to do it. Although, of course, more times when the catastrophe didn’t happen.

    The one thing that has helped me the most is to think about whether I can do anything about whatever I’m worrying about. If it is something I’m worrying about, but have no control over then I make a really conscious effort to put it out of my mind. If I do have some control over it then I try to focus on what I can actually do that will improve the situation.

    • I really like how you said you think about whether or not you have control over the situation. Sometimes I worry about things I have NO control over or do nothing about the things I can control.

  • Sharon Holderman

    maybe you should write your ebook under a fake name….less intimidating? then you can enjoy the process and keep it secret from others if you’re unsure…baby steps!

  • Tara

    Brooke, maybe you have already pursued this, but it does sound like you have generalized anxiety. I can’t tell you how much I’ve benefited from medication. And therapy. But for me the first step was medication. It helped me get control enough that I felt confident enough to pursue a therapist. (I was also dealing with depression, but again… medication is really the main thing that helped me.) Like I said, I don’t know if this is something you’ve already pursued. But if not, I would strongly urge you to consider professional treatment. I take anxiety medication and anti-depressants daily, but I also have an immediate-release medication (similar to Xanax) that I only take as needed, when I’m feeling particularly anxious. I know some people just do that and only take it when they’re going to face a big social event, things like that. I’m not trying to be a pill-pusher, I think that we all do really need to try to do non-prescription things like exercise, self-care, therapy of some kind, etc, but if you feel like this is really starting (or continues) to affect your quality of life, it may be worth talking to a doctor about. It’s so freeing when your outside reflects the confident good person on the inside.

  • Olivia

    You are not alone. The fact that you are able to share this is HUGE. I used to have a lot of social anxiety, negative, paralyzing thoughts, fear of being humiliated, etc. for years. It was compounded by the fact that I seriously thought there was something wrong with me for “not bonding normally with people” and I was so ASHAMED to even discuss what went on in my head. I don’t know if you also think that, but please know that many people have been through what you’re describing.

    …. And what you’re describing are symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder. I urge you to seek out counselling and particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Your self talk is self sabotaging and you’ve got to relearn how to change your thought patterns which are triggering the anxiety. Life is too short to live within the walls that social anxiety creates for us. I suffered with this for years before finally overcoming it. I still feel sad when I look back on the 5-6 years when it was really bad, because I can see now how I missed out on LIVING, forming new friendships and genuinely enjoying the company of others. You can get through and overcome this. What awaits for you on the other side is a more fulfilling joyful existence.

  • I totally feel you on the turning to food when dealing with anxiety! I’ve gotten better with doing other things, but still am working on the anxiety.

    And I will take those yoga classes! 🙂

  • Oh Steph, I do like you! I think it’s so silly that we’ve both been thinking the same thing, when we just should have been hanging out together!

    I think saying “Its going to be okay” could really be beneficial to me. I used a lot of mantra things like that when losing weight and things were hard. No reason they wouldn’t work with this!

  • So glad that the universe brought you to my blog and that today’s post is what you needed! 🙂 I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason!

  • Lisa, fear holds us back a lot! Which is silly, because if we do nothing, we get nothing, and most of the time end up off a lot worse than when we started.

    So, we do need to just do it! We can, Lisa! We’re worth it! 🙂

  • Hi Brooke,
    I’d be happy to talk about this with you whenever you want 🙂 I suffer from anxiety too, and it’s been a long process the past two years learning how to deal with it, and above all, accept it. Sounds weird, right? But I think what you can see from all of these amazing comments from people is that you are absolutely not alone. Not at all!!! <3 Always here if you want to chat.

  • upinthecosmos

    So glad I came across your blog cause I totally relate to this, I could be you from the way you’ve described it all. There are days where I’m happy to be on my own cause I do like the ‘me’ time but after a while that self isolation just gets to a person. Thanks for sharing this, mentally I know there were others that were like me but its good to have it confirmed that I’m not the only one. I continue to try to break the habits and conquer the anxieties…. baby steps:-)

  • Samantha Moore

    I’ve never had the social anxiety that you describe, but I’ve dealt with anxiety within other parts of my life. I’m extremely thankful that I took a knitting class and learned to knit. I did it a local small store. They had a group that met each week. I made new friends. I don’t think I said much the first few weeks, but it didn’t matter if I wasn’t the chatterbox, I was knitting with them.

    If something happened that I got really worked up, picking up my knitting and just focusing on one stitch at a time really helped and after a bit, my mind clears. I can see the situation from a different angle and calmly think about it.

    I guess to me, knitting has become my relaxation technique. I highly recommend it because at the end you have something really pretty that you made.

    Sam

  • Colleenpamela

    Hello 🙂 a bit late but I was browsing your blog and I saw this. I want to hug you so much right now and say ‘this! Right here!’ Thank you for putting this into words, I have felt this for so long but never been able to explain properly!

  • Jennifer Paustian

    Hey Brooke! I’ve had your blog in my bookmarks for awhile, and decided to take a look through and now I’m reverse reading all your entries. Is that weird? 🙂 I am the same way in social settings. Small talk? I don’t know how people can just talk nonstop all the time. I normally just sit in a crowd and listen to others and don’t say anything. I want to tell them, hey I’m awesome too, I just don’t have anything relevant to say at the moment.

    I do want to let you know about a group I have in the QC area. http://www.meetup.com/QCGirlfriends/. It’s just a bunch of women in their 20-30’s that get together once a month or so to hang out. It’s totally laid back, and the ladies are awesome. I’ve met some really great people that I never would have crossed paths with otherwise. I hope you come check us out sometime! I was super nervous to go to my first one, but I’m glad I did.

    • Hi Jennifer!

      I will check out the group! I’m sure it would be a great way to connect with people! Although I’m sure it’ll take a lot of self talk to get me to go to my first one. Haha.

  • littlebox

    I completely relate to your anxiety! I’ve never really been made fun of so that’s definitely not where it stems from for me… but I totally relate 🙁 My friends say, “it’s not a big deal–JUST DO IT” but the fear of rejection or not getting what I want is sooo scary to me