I have anxiety. Yeah, me.

[deep breath, long pause]

I have anxiety. Yeah, me, Dallas Hartwig.

This has been a really tough thing for me to admit, since I have  — for most of my life, anyway — self-identified as a really level-headed, easygoing, and resilient man.

For the first 30-ish years of my life, I dealt with psychological stress really well.

A demanding grad school program, the horrific loss of my father to pancreatic cancer, a divorce from my college sweetheart, and leaving a stable career in physical therapy to become a public speaker and entrepreneur … I dealt with them all pretty well.

It wasn’t easy, but it was totally manageable.

But then… I got into a new relationship, started working with my girlfriend (later wife), and shit got bad.

We argued about everything, especially work.

We were not our best selves to each other (let’s call that a giant understatement).

I ended up anxious, unhappy, desperately lonely, and losing what was previously an unshakable confidence in my own ability.

Eventually, I decided to leave that relationship, and things started to get better (though they got much, much worse at first).

I spent several years healing, resting, and also floundering professionally.

But, I felt more calm, grounded, and optimistic than I had in a long time.

Earlier this year, I started a new relationship with a brilliant, wise, beautiful woman, and voila!

I got anxious again.

Turns out, the psychological vulnerability of being “all in” can trigger anxiety, even in otherwise stable people. (Worth noting: having anxiety isn’t evidence that a relationship is bad for you.)

My relationship is deep, profound, and supportive, and still… I’m terrified sometimes.

So I’m working through it all, and I’m far better for it.

I still don’t like admitting that I get really anxious, but it’s the truth, so I’m speaking it.

Not all truths are pretty.

Through pain, the world has taught me to be better.

More textured, and more cautious perhaps, but better nonetheless.

Here’s to being better together, friends.


 

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7 Comments

  • Shireen

    Hi Dallas, I thoroughly recommend doing some Brad Yates videos on you tube: EFT. They are utterly exceptional and, with meditation, will be a daily release so you can say “bye bye to anxi-e-tay” (make it rhyme and do it in a drawling accent). x

  • Kenneth A Louard

    Lesson learned that even success can be scary and uncomfortable however we need to address issues honestly without judgement

  • Robin Coffman

    Thank you for speaking your truth about this! I am always inspired when fellow humans are brave enough to be … human! 🙂 I left a work relationship on February 14th of this year that had some of the same markers that you mentioned here, actually. My boss and I made a great team (I thought), but as it turned out, my boss sort of just wanted someone to dump on and then scapegoat. Add to that the anxiety that had already begun to flourish in me, and you have a really toxic situation that sort of dismantled me into a gazillion little pieces. I loved the work, but I could not be my best self in that situation, unfortunately (I appreciate your phrasing of this within your own story). So now, I am resting and also floundering with regard to what kind of “work” I want to do next. I panic sometimes, because money is always a concern. But for now, I am working for myself, figuring out the details of growing food for myself and my husband, hoping that something comes along that allows me to contribute further into the world (without turning me into a monster or a victim). I am taking on small editing / proofreading jobs as they arise, which is a better space for me and my anxiety currently – freelancing in this way allows me to spend a lot of time in nature, which is such a huge healer! Still, I would love to have some more structured and guaranteed-lucrative ‘plan’, and that’s where anxiety can take hold really fast when untended.

    Keep telling your truth – we help to heal and inspire each other as humans when we do this from a place of earnestness and authenticity!

  • Robin

    Thank You, Dallas for your honesty .

  • Suzanne

    Thank you for sharing. You are not alone. Anxiety is something I’ve struggled with for years (it ebbs and flows) and I have a hard time opening up to people about it. It’s difficult to make yourself vulnerable when you feel like the only thing keeping you together is the shell you’ve been projecting.

    I’ve found the Pacifica app to helpful. I tried out the free version and really liked it, so I bought a year subscription when there was a deal. Reading about attachment styles has helped me some too.

  • Galilee T Carlisle

    Dear Dallas (and others who may read this),
    Capital-A Anxiety is just the latest buzz-word because everyone wants a diagnosis…wants to be “understood”….wants to claim a title for the difficult, rich feelings that are part of being alive (especially in today’s backwards lifestyles). Feeling anxious can just be a sign that you actually CARE. It can be a sign of INSECURITY. It can be a sign that you are ALL-IN (as you said). It can also be a sign that ones life is just a big MESS. It can be a result of bad lifestyle CHOICES. It can be an INSPIRATION to work a little harder on something. Learning to gracefully navigate the landscape of our feelings alone and with others is just part of being healthy. It seems to me (and others that I work with in the mental health education field) that the labeling of feelings as a “thing” or diagnosis tends to make people over-identify with that part of themselves and get caught in a worse version of it than is fitting to their lives. So…. I say, yes, feel the anxiety and work with it, but don’t label yourself or use the term as an explanation for the personality traits and choices that bring it to the surface. Carry on, strong and lovely humans!

  • Jenney Ryan

    Hello Dallas! You are a accomplished and smart man. Just know that through all your dark days, the light will return. You will grow stronger through every heartache but I hope and pray that you can find much more happiness, joy and fun over time. I feel that God, prayer and friends will help you get better. Your chihuahua is adorable and I have two of my own. They brighten my life every day. God Bless you and give you substanance for today, strength for tomorrow and tenderness to impact others in a positive way. You are in my prayers ….love yourself through every storm…and take long walks with your dog.

    Jenney

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