…The anxiety in my life isn’t continuous. Sometimes it’s manageable. In fact, sometimes I don’t think about it that much altogether.
But it’s always lurking.
Stoked by an argument, or criticism, or a problem at work—or something else entirely—anxiety manifests itself in a physical way for me. My heart may start beating so hard that I feel it in my chest and in my ears. Or it might be so fast that I feel dizzy and short of breath. Even if I am sitting completely still, I might feel this shakiness inside of me, and all over my body—from head to toe, down my arms, rushing out of my fingertips.
Other symptoms accompany my anxiety: goosebumps, jaw-clenching, pacing. Perhaps the goosebumps are a reaction that my outside body has to the chaos within me. It’s as if the anxiety is physically trying to leave my body through any way possible.
Once the anxiety kicks in, it can turn into stress, then frustration, and then—finally—anger. For me the anger sits just below the surface. It’s invisible until my anxiety escalates, and I reach a point where I can no longer deny it or hide it. Before that happens, I usually go into avoidance mode. I stop engaging. I shut down. Especially when the conflict I’m experiencing is with someone I’m close to, like my wife. To her this must feel as though I am dismissing her or ignoring her, which is upsetting to us both, but it’s just one of the many fallouts of living with PTSD.
I don’t like feeling this way. Like I am like a red-hot exposed nerve just waiting to snap. It is against my better nature. I love people. I love communicating and sharing. I am angry at my anger, that this seems to be my new normal. I am angry that PTSD has stolen so much from me—that it has irrevocably altered the very essence of my being—and that feeling makes those moments when my anxiety spills into anger even worse…