*This was written post-divorce around mid December 2017
Is there such a thing as anxious anxiety? Well, I think there is. And I'm pretty positive I have it. I've always been a fairly nervous person, but during my 20s, the dial turned way up. And now I'm divorced and finding that ceiling to have risen to meet my anxiety's needs. How kind of it.
I knew new stresses would come with the new amount of loneliness and fear and all that, but I did not quite picture this degree of crippling anxiety I now have.
As I discovered a few years ago, food + my anxiety are not friends. Instead of the restricted breathing–which I already have with my asthma–and the fear of my throat closing up, I vomit. I vomit for hours on end, not unlike the experience of having food poisoning. And over the years, I have discovered my panic patterns:
-it's always at night
-it's worse if I have food in my stomach (just something else that can come up)
-it's really bad when I'm out of town
-it's triggered at restaurants (or the worst combo is at a restaurant out of town)
My first two jobs post-divorce made it super easy to stay in Nashville because they were typical 9-5 posts. Not much time off. I thought, good I won't have to worry about this for now. Oh, dear Ashlyne. Anxiety adapts! All of a sudden, I started getting panic attacks right where I lived, like when I went out to dinner with friends, or worse...on a date.
Here's how it usually goes- At some point I feel a little stab of nausea. I try to reason it away and just chalk it up to indigestion or something. But then it doesn't go away. Cue all out panic (hidden from anyone else of course). I think to myself I can't go to the bathroom because then I'll get stuck in there because I'll start vomiting and won't be able to leave. (The worst was when I was on this date and knew the bathroom wasn't one with stalls. Just one toilet.) I then think about the fact that no one else will understand what's going on. I mean, maybe my friends know I have this issue (although not all) but I didn't tell my dates!
Why? Well a) it's sort of an odd thing to explain on a first or even second date. And b) drawing attention to it only makes it worse. Telling someone I'm nauseous or that I might get nauseous just makes me MORE NAUSEOUS. And you already know how I feel when I don't tell.
I'm so over having these panic attacks. It's started to make me have a fear of food, or rather of eating during a certain time of day under certain circumstances. It's the closest I've gotten to an eating disorder and the closest I want to get.