I live in a body that translates anxiety physically. It is hell. But I didn’t know how dangerous it was until this year.
Ever since I was little, I had OCD-like habits. For example, I absolutely hated wearing certain clothes, and not for what they looked like. Rather, I hated the way some of them felt. I would actually get sick to my stomach or feel tingly if a certain fabric was caressing me in a way I didn’t approve.
I remember watching TV with my parents and if a commercial came on that made me uncomfortable or scared, I would pinch my sides. I still do this when I am dealing with anxiety overload and have scars here from doing it so much.
As I got older, I became a nail biter, which is common, but it wasn’t enough for me. I would bite down to the cuticles.
Sometimes, when I am out for a walk, I will step on a crack with my right foot and I must step with my left foot in the exact location that my right foot stepped on the crack.
My body began finding new ways to physically manage my anxiety when I entered an abusive relationship in high school. I started peeling my split ends and pinching the sides of my neck (evenly of course).
Though I’ve never been officially diagnosed, I have habits that could only be described as “obsessive and compulsive”.
Earlier this summer, my body underwent some scary physical changes. I went to urgent care and was told that the change had likely been brought on by stress. STRESS! Something that I thought I’d been dealing with mentally and emotionally. My body had finally had enough. I realized all the ways in which I’d been handling anxiety had been detrimental to my mind AND my body.
The marriage of my OCD to my anxiety seemed to work well for a while. My anxiety could release itself (at least momentarily) via the habits of my OCD. But I can’t continue to let my mind dominate my body. I need healthier habits. We live in a world where it is easy to let anxiety seep in, but please don’t let yourself be overcome. I was recently reminded of a verse from Philippians 4:6 that says – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Because of the scare I had earlier this summer, I know I need to be more intentional about managing my stress. I still have so much to work on and I know that these compulsive habits won’t disappear instantly. I will probably spend the rest of my life battling this, but my future self will definitely be thankful.