Even though I have done the deeper work of embracing the superpowers that accompany being a MenPathic, there are times when it gets the best of me.
As a MenPathic possessing a healthy mix of both HSP and empathic traits, I've worked hard to understand and embrace my superpowers. I recognize that while there are some negative aspects of these traits, I am a far better person for having done the work.
Still, anxiety is once again, my constant companion.
My Anxiety Issues
For as long as I can remember, I've dealt with anxiety as a constant and bothersome companion. In my younger years, before anyone knew was aware that HSPs and empaths were a regular appearing subset of the population, the anxiety I experienced manifested as stomach upsets (for which I was hospitalized at age 10). In my 30s and 40s it expressed itself as panic attacks, and now in my 60s it reminds me of its presence with muscle tightness, especially my thighs, and systemic signs such as my brain feeling 'full' (kind of like eating a donut or some other source of bad carbs) and sometimes, complete physical exhaustion.
Such has been the case for about a year now. When I was living in Southern California, these physical symptoms appeared to be linked to my business travel as I'd experience anxiety on plane trips for business, often manifesting these same symptoms. However, it’s not a fear of flying, so there is something else at the root of it.
Now that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area again, have a new job that doesn’t require frequent travel, I ride the Caltrain commuter train to San Francisco three days a week, and I've been experiencing these symptoms regularly on the afternoon ride home.
What's strange is that it never happens in the morning on the same train. There is something about the ride home (more people on the train perhaps?) that triggers my spidey-senses and at times evolves into a full-blown anxiety attack.
What's 'normal' anyway?
A part of me asks the question, "Is this normal, and should I be concerned?" The other part of me, the realist, then answers with "What's normal, anyway?"
This has been my normal for as long as I can remember. Anxiety in the forms of stomach aches, panic attack's, mild dizziness on occasion, nervous tics (especially in my younger years), they have all been my companions for time to time. I've experienced months without overt physical symptoms, and I've experienced weeks on end with daily symptoms.
As you can imagine, it’s been tough to deal with.
So, What Will I Do?
Tomorrow I am seeing my new doctor via the HMO at which I am a member. I'm going to seek his advice on how best to go forward with this issue. I'm not opposed to taking meds if that might be indicated. It might be better than experiencing these symptoms daily.
I've also got some more general suggestions for myself, or you if you find yourself in a battle with anxiety. They aren't new suggestions, but for me, they will take on a new level of priority.
Suggestions for Moving Forward
Meditate more. I've been a meditator off and on throughout the decades, and I'm also reminded how hectic life can seem when I'm not engaged in a regular practice. Like going to the gym, the hardest part is actually going…or in this case, sitting. I just need to do it each day, practice my breathing exercises, and create mindful periods for reflection and assessment each day.
Sleep more. I already take some THC/CBD oil drops before bedtime to help me sleep. Yesterday I visited me local cannabis dispensary and also purchased some CBD sublingual drops to try before getting on the train. According to my Fitbit Charge 3 device, I sleep an average of 6.5 hours per night. That's not enough, but since it represents what I can do with OTC medicinal help, I'm not sure what else can be done on this issue. Another question for my physician.
Exercise more. This is definitely one area I can improve upon. I recently decided I'd go the gym on Monday and Friday, coinciding with the days that I don't ride the train to San Francisco. I work from a downtown San Jose office on those days, and I can hit the gym either in the morning or the afternoon. I belong to 24 Fitness, and there's a location about a mile from my one. It's a no-brainer. Perhaps incorporating an evening walk with Karen each evening after I get back from the city is something to start on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Eat better. Since I'm already very committed to eating according to the Ketogenic nutritional plan, I'm not going to change this. My most recent lipid panel (from two weeks ago, and by far the best indicator of whether a high-fat diet can throw off your blog lipids) shows definite improvement in my overall cholesterol as well as both HDL and LDL, individually. So I'm good on this front. I don't snack after dinner (with rare exception), and I don't drink very much alcohol at all.
Drink less coffee. Who am I kidding? I've cut back already since moving here to San Jose about four months ago. I usually have one cup early before the train, one or two cups in the morning at work, and one in the afternoon (sometimes I skip this). I used to have two cups after dinner. Yes, I'm a coffeeholic, and I'm OK with that. Enough said.
Start my yoga instruction. I hate yoga. I hate going to yoga class because I can't keep up with all the beautiful people who clearly don't need to to be there anyway. I mean, can't there be a yoga class for people who hate yoga that's separate from the yoga for beautiful people class? However, I've worked out a deal with my friend Kenny Rogers (no, to that Kenny Rogers) for some one-on-one instruction here in my home. He recently completed yoga teacher training, and so I arranged for some private lessons with him. He was kind enough to come up with a plan for me that will increase my flexibility and, most importantly, learn at a pace I can handle. I'd love to love yoga. Kenny has his work cut out for him.
Do You Have Any Suggestions?
If you've dealt with anxiety of any kind, I'd be very appreciative if you shared your experience or a plan of action that helped. Feel free to share your comments below.