Monday, November 4

Good afternoon, everybody!

I’m feeling much better now that Hell Week™ is over and done with. I’ve also been sleeping normally again for the past few days, so I’m hopeful things will stay that way. This week is going to be a bit busy for me, because it’s my academic planning week (and the last one I’ll ever have to do)! Basically, this is the week I plan out all of my spring semester classes and meet with my advisor to discuss my plan. It’s really crucial that I get all of the classes I need, because I’m graduating in May and I need to fit in all of my requirements. Even if it’s stressful along the way, it somehow always works out in the end, so I’m trying to not focus too much anxiety on it.

Right now I have a salad and my favorite coffee order, a hot caramel macchiato with soy milk, with me while I get some blogging done before class. I’m feeling really good today because my first class isn’t until 2pm, so I had a lot of time this morning to get ready and make myself look nice. I’ve always been somebody who loves getting ready in the morning and doing my makeup, even if I’m not going anywhere special. It’s a relaxing way for me to practice self care and spend some time with myself and my face, which I’m finally starting to see the beauty in after feeling self-conscious about myself for so long.

Wednesday, November 6

I was hoping I’d be completely back to normal by now, but unfortunately, my anxiety is a little wonky and I’m still feeling very high-alert. I also had another rough night sleeping, and didn’t really fall asleep until 5am. The good news is, my first class isn’t until 11am, so I was still able to get (somewhat) decent rest until then. 

I guess the best way to describe how I’m feeling is “unfamiliar.” I feel out of touch with myself and my surroundings, which is frustrating, but I’m trying to remind myself that all of these symptoms are temporary and I’ll feel back to normal soon. This disconnected feeling does sometimes happen to me, but it never lasts for long and I’m usually back to feeling normal within a few days.  My “therapy” right now consists of extra-self care, emotional support from my friends, and trying to focus on happy thoughts, such as upcoming Thanksgiving recession and winter break next month! And, of course, writing has also been my savior and a way for me to feel “in touch” with myself again.

While I do enjoy being at school this semester and I feel comfortable with my friends and classes, I feel like the room where I live is somehow contributing to my problems. I don’t know what it is about my dorm room, but I sometimes feel very isolated and anxious to spend time there. I’m also a very associative person, so once I have one negative experience with a place or thing, there is usually a permanent negative connotation. This is basically the long, complicated way of me saying that the two bad nights I had last week are permanently tainting my feelings about my dorm.

I’m thinking about trying CBD, as I have been contemplating for a year or so now. I’ve tried pretty much everything else: therapy, essential oils, meditation, antidepressants, you name it. My anxiety just always finds a way to prevail and throw me off my rhythm. At this point, it’s not about curing anxiety, it’s just about managing it.

Anyway, I don’t mean to sound like such a downer! In general, I’m doing pretty alright, though a bit tired. I am so excited for Blogmas next month, because all of my articles will be winter holiday based to some capacity. I’m also looking forward to making my spring schedule, because I’m such a planner and I like to organize academic things. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and I’m able to get in all of the classes I need!

Friday, November 8

The days have been flying by lately, and I’m looking forward to the fast-approaching Thanksgiving break and then winter recession! The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year, and I’m especially looking forward to spending the holidays with my mom’s side of the family. 

I have to say, I’m still in a bit of a weird funk and my sleep schedule is still really messed up. I’m trying not to analyze it too much so I can just let myself feel my feelings and move on, because I find that’s the best way to get out of feeling out of it. Occasionally, without reason, I’ll feel “off” or “disconnected” for a few days or weeks at a time. I’m wondering if it has to do with the recent daylight saving time clock changes, because the shorter days are definitely putting a damper on my mood. The best way I can describe it is like I feel as though I’m in a dream, and everything just feels a little…unfamiliar. It’s a very tricky feeling to describe, but it’s putting me on edge and making my anxiety worse. 

Makeup is one of my favorite ways to keep myself happy and “grounded”

Anyway, I’m currently at the campus center with my good friend, Lily, who has been an absolute angel this week. She’s been really helping me to get out of my shell and socialize more, which is something I really appreciate while going through this odd funk. We also got ihop tonight, which was absolutely delicious, and burritos yesterday. Needless to say, my wallet would really appreciate it if I calmed down the food spending.

Moving on, I’m all cleared to register for my spring classes next week, so that’s an exciting update. I’m also going to have to take an internship next semester, which is required for me to graduate, and I’m *possibly* going to take an additional direct study course. I’m not entirely sure what a direct study is, but I think it basically means I’m going to do additional independent work for credit. So basically, it’s going to be a really busy spring semester, and I’m really looking forward to it!

I’ve had an anxiety disorder for my entire life. I believe my anxiety is partially genetic, but additionally, environmental factors have definitely played a role in my mental health. Surprisingly, most people don’t seem to realize that there is a profound overlap between mental and physical health. I could go into a lot more detail on all of these specific correlations, but for this particular topic, I’m just going to touch on the relationship between anxiety and fatigue. 

Interestingly, fatigue is listed as one of the top three symptoms of an anxiety disorder. For some people, this may be because people with anxiety tend to lose more sleep because of their condition. When insomnia and anxiety link up, the results can be devastating for your sleep schedule. For me personally, I sleep just fine at night, but panic attacks and anxiety attacks completely deplete me of my energy. There is a phenomenon known as the “anxiety attack hangover,” which more or less describes the feeling of being drained or “jet lagged” after having the attack. This is something I’m all too familiar with, and I have some thoughts on why this probably happens to me.

Going into fight-or-flight mode uses a ton of energy. Anxiety itself uses up a lot of energy! Feeling my adrenaline spike, my blood pressure heighten, and my breathing accelerated always leaves me feeling absolutely destroyed after I recover. The production of adrenaline itself uses up a ton of glucose and energy, which is probably why folks with anxiety disorders (including myself) are always so dang tired afterwards. 

However, anxiety itself is not the only thing that can cause me to feel fatigued. As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I have a prescription for Ativan, which belongs to the benzo drug class (Xanax is a more common benzo you may have heard of). Ativan is used as a short-term treatment for people with anxiety and panic disorders, and is also used as a sedative before medical procedures.

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In a nutshell, it’s a pretty strong drug. I don’t take Ativan often, probably only about ten times a year, because it’s designed for short-term use only and can become highly addictive if taken too often. When I do take an Ativan, I’ll usually feel extremely calm and a bit out of it, because the drug causes my heart rate to significantly slow down. The last time I took an Ativan, in preparation for a speech in class, I decided to forgo my usual coffee in fear that an “upper” would interfere with a “downer.” This may have been a mistake, because I became SO exhausted and chilled out after my speech that day, I was essentially incoherent. I went to lie down in my room around 3pm, and didn’t wake up until 6:30pm. I was completely disoriented for the rest of the night, because frankly, that’s just what Ativan does to you. I guess the only silver lining is that I did get through my speech without having a complete breakdown.

So, yeah. Fatigue and anxiety is a lose-lose situation, in my case. If I don’t take medication and subsequently have a panic attack, I get fatigued. If I take my medication and avoid an attack, I still get fatigued. As I previously said, I very rarely take Ativan, so most cases end with me having a full-fledged panic and consequently feeling tired for the rest of the day. I really can’t win with my anxiety.

Now that I’ve gotten the depressing things out of the way, let’s talk about what you (and I) can do if you get hit with those post-anxiety sleepies. One thing that makes me feel better is to take a little nap, or even just lay down and do nothing for an hour or two. This is the time your body NEEDS to recharge and re-center, so there’s no reason to have guilt. If you have the resources, practice some form of self-care to get you through the rest of your day. Practice some deep breathing, meditation, or treat yourself to a bubble bath. Put on a video or a funny movie that makes you laugh. 

Having an anxiety disorder is not your fault, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. If you’re comfortable with it, make sure your professors and family members are in the loop about how anxiety can affect your mental health. In my personal experience, most people are more than happy to listen and help you in any way they can. I promise you don’t have to go through anxiety alone!

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