Posted on 22 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

five days into much better mental health (part 2)

With a little over five days since my mental health med doctor tweaked my meds, I can report that my mental health has improved a lot.

In part 1, I shared that I still experience full on Anxiety for about 2 hours each morning. My sternum and throat are very tight, I can’t shake bad thoughts, and I am fearful of the day ahead. But a mixture of morning meds bring my mind back to calm usually by about the time I get to work.

Obviously, at any point during the day, if placed in highly-stressful situations, I still become anxious. And I believe under those circumstances I experience much more Anxiety than someone without mental health problems would. So my therapist is helping me with coping mechanisms to survive these times.

Thus far, just being silent is my best coping mechanism. “Don’t force yourself into a negative reaction if you don’t need to, Michael,” my therapist advises.

So that’s that. Two hours every morning of Anxiety and situationally-induced Anxiety now and then. As I noted in Part 1, I am going to tinker with when I take my meds to see if I can stave off the morning Anxiety. Stay tuned.

What I wanted to write about here is that over the past five days I’ve had a muscle memory of Anxiety that feels very weird. It’s a mixture of Anxiety and calm felt in my body at the same time.

Think of the fascia under your skin. The first is the real fascia — the thin sheath of fibrous tissue that covers muscles and organs.

Now, imagine there are two more layers. For me, it feels like there’s a very thin lower layer of fascia that is Anxiety ready to pounce on the rest of the body when called upon. But it is covered by a much thicker blanket of calming fascia that holds everything in check.

Under somewhat stressful times, the imagined thick calming layer won’t let the thin layer push through to a fully tense up my body, triggering all the bad things that then play with my mind.

However, during those morning Anxiety periods and when situations force Anxiety upon me, the thin layer pushes through — usually at the sternum and throat — and within seconds my full body is tense … and then in pain.

So here’s the funny thing. I sometimes feel both sensations when the outside world Anxiety is absent: a thin layer of tense Anxiety covered by a thicker blanket of calm … both just below my skin. It is a very weird feeling.

There are two things I can do to deal with the physical awkwardness. The first is exercise. Yoga is the best option, but any rigorous activity that twists and fatigues my muscles will overpower the Anxiety fascia. The second option is to stretch and massage the parts of my body feeling the low level of stress. Chest expansions and triangles with full binds work best for me.

The last thing of note is that the thick calming layer of imagined fascia has a direct connection to my brain. I feel the calm, and then I think the calm. And then I feel ready to experience the world’s experiences with the level of mental health that I’ve achieved to this point.

Now, it’s possible with my mental health improving (still fingers crossed), the muscle memory of the Anxiety-imagined fascia will disappear. I really, really hope for this.

Again, stay tuned. I’m still getting used to feeling somewhat good during my days.