Yep, you read the title right- my anxiety can make me a bitch. Let me start by painting you a picture: My boyfriend and I are making our way through the airport, weaving through crowds of families, business people and first-time travelers. I’m becoming more and more overwhelmed by all the busyness, and I’m trying hard not to get in anyone’s way or upset any of the oncoming traffic. All of a sudden I turn around to my boyfriend, and I bark at him to speed up and keep up with me.
I immediately regret the words coming out of my mouth and guilt washes over me. They were harsh and rude, but it’s like something inside me snapped, and the only way to control my emotions was to lash out on the closest person. My poor boyfriend was just walking along minding his own business, but yet I still griped. Unfortunately, this anecdote isn’t the only time it’s happened, and my boyfriend isn’t the only victim. Friends, family members, co-workers and even my first-grade campers stuck with me in a canoe in the middle of the lake have all been on the receiving end of my freakouts.
So why did I do it? For a while, I thought I might just be a mean person incapable of controlling my emotions. But, after I finally took some time to think through all the different times I had snapped, I discovered one common thread: anxiety. I crave control in situations with high stress, and this often manifests into a need to control those around me, especially my loved ones. During heightened periods of anxiety, I can actually feel all the emotions bubbling up inside my body, and the end result is me exploding on the closest person.
I really hate that I lash out. I’ve been on the receiving end of anxiety-induced bitchiness, and it hurts. I don’t want to make my loved ones go through that, and I don’t want to have to go down the shame spiral following the freakout on someone. Here’s how I’m working on regulating my anxiety to prevent a total bitch-out.
I’m taking a pause when I need it.
Too often when I'm in an anxious situation, I try to push through the warning signs that my body is sending me and continue about my life. My mind is literally telling me to stop and catch my breath, but I ignore it. It can seem frivolous to stop and process everything around me. Now, when I get that angsty feeling all over, I’m giving myself permission to tell whomever I’m with that I need a second to breathe, reset and continue through whatever we were doing.
I’m getting vulnerable about what I am feeling.
I can almost guarantee that any person would rather hear “hey, this situation is making me anxious, and I’m not really sure why,” versus “why the *expletive* are you doing that. Can you get it together?!?!?.” Expressing my anxiety before it erupts into hateful words is much more beneficial for all parties involved. I’m not going to lie, it takes some vulnerability for me to tell a loved one that I am feeling out of sorts, but I have prevented so many snapping moments by expressing my feelings before they get to the breaking point. And there is way less shame when I share that I am struggling pre-bitchy moment.
I’m becoming more aware of my triggers.
Taking time to learn what my triggers are has benefited me overall, but it has especially helped prevent some anxiety freakouts. If I know that a situation has the potential to make me feel anxious, I can give myself a pep talk, I can plan some coping methods, and I can talk things through with my loved ones, so they know how to help. Traveling is an excellent example of this in real life: before heading out on a trip, I share how my anxiety might be high with whomever I’m traveling with because it makes me feel like I have a partner in the whole situation. Then, if something pops up during the traveling process, I have someone who already knows that this is a trigger for me and I have given myself some affirmations.
Taking time to learn my triggers (professional mental health support can really help identify these) puts the power back in my hands. Honestly, it can feel somewhat silly learning your triggers, and I had a couple of moments where I shamed myself for being triggered by “stupid, pointless things,” but the more I am able to recognize situations that have the potential to be stressful, the more grace I can show myself.
My anxiety can make me a bitch. Sometimes I lash out at those around me because my emotions take over and I’m feeling out of control. I share this with you, because I know I’m not the only one. I’ve been on the receiving end of an anxiety bitch-out, and it hurts. Learning to work through my emotions and process them pre-breakdown prevents the impending guilt trip.
I encourage you to take some time to think through how your anxiety (or any other mental health concern) is impacting your life. Maybe your emotions can also turn you into a bitch, or perhaps it looks completely different, but learning the ripple effects can not only benefit you but also all those around you.