I am a world-class worrier. If there is something to fret about, over analyze, lose sleep over, or in general anguish about, I will trump any one of you. I pick apart every thought, decision, and choice I make – not on a daily basis, not on an hourly basis, but on a minute-to-minute basis. Sometimes I even feel like every second my brain is busy weighing options, doubts, and manifested concerns.
And there is no distinction in my mind between big and small dilemmas. I will apply the same intense deductive reasoning to deciding whether to take a job far from home, as I would to deciding which socks to wear. I will mull over what to make for dinner as much as I might weigh the pros and cons of buying a new apartment. Heck, I can’t even pick a nail color without getting overwrought about whether or not I may or may not wear an outfit in the following two weeks that could potentially clash with my nails. Welcome to my vexation. (Just got that word from the thesaurus. It’s a goody.)
I am also a world-class control freak. See above. I’m always trying to see the potholes in the road before I fall into them. I second-guess, theorize, predict, and try to manage all obstacles before they even have a chance to exist.
This serves me well in some respects. I channel my negative apprehension into proactive attacks. In some respects I think it aids in my success, but I gotta tell ya, it’s exhausting, and clearly bad for my health. Not to be all TMI or anything, but I suffer from pretty bad ongoing constipation. I tell you this not to get too personal, but to tell you how my husband teases me that I am not only figuratively anal-retentive, I am LITERALLY anal-retentive. We laugh, but it’s not really funny.
And now I have scientific proof that the ramifications of this mental turmoil are wreaking havoc on my physical body in ways I never quite imagined. One of my doctors had reason to prescribe a saliva test for me. I spit into little vials one day, collecting samples in the early morning, mid morning, mid afternoon, and nighttime. The results that came back were illuminating. You know how you know something already, but seeing it in data form in black and white helps you digest it in a way that can’t be ignored anymore? Yeah, that happened.
Turns out my doctor’s suspicion was correct. She was concerned that the reason I wasn’t healing properly or at an expected rate, was because I had radically low cortisol levels. Cortisol is the body’s natural hydrocortisone. You know, the stuff we take to alleviate pain and swelling? Your adrenal gland produces it naturally to help you cope with stress, injury, and the like, or at least it’s supposed to.
My doctor believes prolonged undue stressors have taxed my adrenal gland so much that it threw up its hands in the air as if to say, “I can’t keep up with the amount of cortisol I’d need to produce to fight this fight. I give up.” It’s essentially adrenal fatigue.
So, what to do? I’ve known for a while that I need to take a chill pill. LOL. My doctor recommended a holistic remedy, Ashwaganda, an East Indian herb. I’m dubious, but hopeful. I’m also going to commit to meditation, something I’ve avoided over the years because I just couldn’t sit still long enough to care. But I desire the benefits, so I’m going to give it a real shot.
Beyond that I’m going to take things one day at a time. It’s funny how we cope and don’t cope. I always think everything will be better when I book my next job or everything will be better when I lose the weight I’ve gained or everything will be better when ______________ (you fill in the blank for yourself). I find I’m in a vicious circle: Don’t feel good about myself ‘cause of weight gain, eat more, can’t lose weight ‘cause of injury, eat more from sadness about not dancing or having a job. You see how it goes. And I guarantee you all feel these same types of heartaches. We sit silently, lashing ourselves. It does none of us any good.
There’s no magic cure for these woes. Remembering that, and keeping the rampant thoughts in check is a delicate balance for a lot of us. But if we all take deep breaths and pause, we might be able to quiet our minds just a little. I think if I do that my adrenal gland will come back on board and start cheering me on again. Together we will fight the battle and win.