Tuesday, August 25, 2009

High Anxiety in Pictures

You know, of course, that it's difficult to conceal the fact that you're really nervous. Agnes and Ben used to poke fun of me before we'd take the floor at dance competitions because I was so obviously nervous. I think it was the rivers of sweat pouring out from under the tux that gave me away...either that or the tuck-the-head-under-the-left-arm-like-a-chicken reflex. Or maybe it was the sixteen bathroom visits per hour thing. Who knows? The anxiety continued once we made it onto the floor, as in this classic photo, which shows me desperately trying to remember what I'm supposed to do next as we zip through a routine...

I got to thinking about this the other day when this photo gallery featuring Nervous Nellies appeared on the Slate.com website. All of the photos are great, but my favorite was this one of a nervous contestant waiting for the results at a dog show:

A close second is this one that someone, somehow, managed to take of me at the office...

How do you handle anxiety? I've tried screaming and running in circles, but it doesn't seem to help and usually attracts undesirable attention. Drugs are out of the question. Gin and tonic is not always available (sadly, because I think I actually dance better after a G&T or two).

Any suggestions?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Amanda said...

If I'm IN the situation already, then I automatically become mute and try not to look around. I think I just look blank. If its waiting around for something potentially nasty then I probably have Hail Marys going on in my head.

In the days when I had exam anxiety, I HAD to wash my hair right before leaving the house.

Gilahi said...

My body betrays me at anxious moments when I really should be handling stressful situations: I fall asleep. My brain apparently just says, "ESCAPE! ESCAPE!" and shuts down. It takes a real effort on my part to stay awake and face the reality.

Leslie David said...

Well you hid your anxiety well when I watched you and Agnes compete last year. I like the dog picture. My bad habit when I'm anxious is to pick at my cuticles, although strangely enough I wasn't nervous the 2 times when I competed. Maybe I was too dumb to be scared but everytime we came around I'd eyeball one judge and smile right at him, but was uptight enough that I threw up before the mapreading exam in Officer Basic, which you HAD to pass in order to pass the course.

Bandit said...

Looks like maybe someone should hold your paw....I mean hand.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it works, but I concentrate on rehearsing the task at hand. The weird part is that I feel the same anxiety level whatever the threat--minor or major, I feel the same nervousness. That actually helps, since facing a 6 ft 6 mugger and a dental technician with a sharp pick feel the same to my adrenal glands. A buddy of mine w/2 Silver Stars says in action he always saw everything as if he were watching it in a movie--he knew he was in his body, but he saw his helicopter and the entire event as if he were an outside observer riding along in a different helicopter. He's a well-regarded academic historian now.

Fear is a survival mechanism; love your fear, it is what kept you alive so far. It keeps you from doing the stupid things that are normally announced to those of your buddies with carmine connections between their shoulders and their head, "Hey fellas, get a load of this!" Usually followed by attempting to span a 6000 ft deep chasm in two jumps.
Eminence Grise

Mike said...

I didn't notice the guys hand on the button until I looked at the Slate site. I've been in that situation many times before at the phone company. "You push the button! No YOU push it!"

As far as your contest problem, I say drugs are are back in the question. Just let me know what you ne.... I mean, go see your doctor.

Wv: exesses - the characters are no longer an S. They are now a 6 or an 8.

Anonymous said...


You might have a clinical case of stress induced narcolepsy. It's a form of epilepsy, actually, and there are drugs that can have some positive effect. If you haven't previously, you might mention this to your doctor.

I'm not a doctor, but I once spent a night in a Holiday Inn express!

Eminence Grise

SusieQ said...

It has been so long since I felt really nervous about anything I have forgotten what it feels like.

Perhaps the way I handle stress is by avoiding stressful situations.

Claudia said...

It's only fitting that you be stressed while dancing, since you are the leader. What a wonderful picture! Agnes looks gorgeous in her fabulous red dress, and you don't look so bad yourself.

Gilahi said...

@Eminence - Thanks, but what I experience is not a narcoleptic "fit" in which I uncontrollably fall asleep at inconvenient times, it's just a very strong experience of sleepiness.

Twinkie said...

I think I know what you mean Gilahi.. it's in stressful situations where I feel "emotionally drained" or "mentally exhausted"... not necessarily "depressed".. just really REALLY tired! LOL

But in a specific moment of stress... how would I handle it? Hmmm.... by giggling a lot and playing with my hair. AND making innapropriate comments.

BTW... WOW!! LOVE that picture. I'm impressed!