Anxiety. The bane of my existence. Unfortunately, it's also a word that gets thrown around too casually sometimes. "Yeah, I get anxiety around people I don't know well too." I don't doubt that the unknown can cause anxiety in people, but for someone like me, it's a gut wrenching, heart pounding, nauseous feeling that doesn't go away no matter what I do.
It's always there. Like the piece of paper on the floor that won't get vacuumed up no matter how many times you run over it. Eventually you just get fed up and throw it away, but my piece of anxiety is glued to the floor, and I can't pick it up.
I can't control it.
There are many articles floating around online that describe it, so I thought I'd write my own, to give a firsthand idea of how it is inside my brain.
1. I worry about the future.
For the past five years, my life has been a game of, "What is going to happen next?" I worry about my kids. I worry about my job. Will I be able to see my kids tomorrow? Or this weekend? What if the boys decide they no longer want to see me?
I know, I can't control any of that. But my brain doesn't understand that. It's more than just "being positive, it'll all work out." which I HATE hearing, because it hasn't yet.
2. While not being able to let go of the past.
Any relationship that fails, be it boyfriend or friend, it's my fault. At least, that's what my brain tells me. I replay every mistake over and over trying to figure out what I could have done better.
3. I overthink everything.
Every comment. Every conversation. Reading between the lines. When someone says, "I'm sorry, I can't go out tonight." or, "It's not a good time to have people over." I hear, "I don't want to see you. You bother me." Stupid, right? I know better, yet I can't help it.
4. I'm too hard on myself.
When I make a mistake, the world ends. And I feel like everyone is bashing me for it like I'm bashing myself.
5. I'm a perfectionist.
I set high standards of myself in certain things, and when it doesn't happen immediately, I give up. Wanting and needing to appear perfect because I never feel good enough for myself no matter what people tell me.
6. I lack confidence.
My appearance. I question everything in relationships. "If I do this, how will it turn out? Will they leave me because of it?" Why do you think I'm so obnoxious and loud? I overcompensate. Also, it's a Nelson thing. :-)
I know I have a great smile, and killer legs, and an amazing personality. My brain tells me a lot of time that I don't measure up, so I self deprecate.
7. I procrastinate better than you ever will.
The fear of failure makes me not start things in the first place. Even if I've succeeded before, the thought of maybe not succeeding again trumps that.
8. I can't sleep at night. Or during the day. Or ever.
I take Trazodone and melatonin at night. Even with that, it sometimes takes me hours to fall asleep. I run on sleep deprivation and caffeine. And lots of sarcasm. This is where the overthinking comes into play. It's great.
9. I check my phone constantly.
That text I sent that you haven't replied to even though it's only been 30 minutes and I know you're working? I will reread twenty times wondering if I worded it right, or if it will offend you. When hours go by, I assume that you're mad at me because you interpreted it incorrectly and now I should send another one explaining myself. The silent treatment is hell on me too. It causes physical pain in addition to the mental pain, so please, if I ask you for something and you want to say no, just say it. It's better than being ignored.
It's also a sign of emotional abuse. If you feel that you can't cope with something, and you need to withdraw, explain that. I'll still text you over and over because I feel you're mad at me, but I'll still have an idea of where you're coming from.
10. I make up scenarios in my head.
Sometimes I'll daydream about what could happen during the day, so I can create a solution, should the situation ever arise so I can be prepared. More than likely, a shooter isn't going to go attack my kids' school while they're there, but in this day and age, you never know. But in the event it does, I know what I'm going to do.
11. Social anxiety.
Here's the most confusing part about social anxiety; I can walk into church, a place I have been going to for 40 years, and feel like everyone is staring at me and judging me. About how I'm acting, what I'm wearing, how my kids are behaving, etc. It's irrational, but very real.
The anxiety attacks appear out of nowhere.
Same with going to the store, or the mall, or wherever. A couple of years ago, I went to a Twins game with a friend of mine. We were walking to the stadium, and I started having an anxiety attack. It got so bad that I had to hold his hand and tell him to force me to keep walking, because I almost turned around and left. It gets that bad.
And phone calls?? Forget it. It took me weeks to make a dr appt because I couldn't. No particular reason. I couldn't pick up the phone and do it.
Having one or the other is hard, but having both is pure hell. Physically and mentally. I've seen it described as this:
"It's feeling hopelessly low that you're still single, but canceling every first date because the thought of going through with it gives you heart palpitations."
"It's needing to do everything, but wanting to do nothing at all."
"It's wanting to stay in bed all day because you don't want to deal with people, but then feeling down because you're alone."
I've lost jobs in the past because of it. I'm making baby steps though, and hopefully that's a thing of the past.
13. I want and need to control everything, because I can't control my anxiety.
That makes me hard to deal with, and I'm sorry. I don't try to do it. Sometimes just one thing sets me into a tailspin, and it's hard to stop.
14. There is no off switch.
Just because I'm on anxiety medication doesn't mean it's gone. It just means that some days I'm a little less paranoid than other days.
15. I need constant reassurance.
Are you mad at me? If you get mad at me, are you going to break up with me? Are you going to ignore me for days? Are you going to sleep with someone else? (I dated a guy that did just that. Not fun.) It's the irrational thoughts. Constant reassuring can be wearing, but it is very important to me.
Selfies have often been described as a way of being narcissistic and wanting compliments or likes. Most of the time, for someone with anxiety, maybe that day we're feeling good about the fact that we managed to get out of bed and get dressed. AND made it to work. Or church. Or wherever. And we celebrate that, but we can't say it.
It's okay to ask me how I'm doing, and then when I say, "I'm fine." tell me, "Okay, now tell me how you're REALLY doing." More than likely I'll tell you that I can't talk about it at that point, but I'll text you later. (Because phone calls. See #11) It shows that you care. But I don't have the plague. It isn't contagious. It just sucks, and I wish it sucked less.
But also, I have a big heart. I've made mistakes and bad choices in the past (who hasn't??) but I don't offer to do things that I truly don't want to do. So if offer to babysit your kid(s) even when I have mine along in tow, it's because I want to. If I offer to take you out to dinner, or cook for you, it's because I want to. I mean, you'll either get frozen pizza or Kraft macaroni and cheese, but hey. It'll be made with love! And when I tell you that I love you, it's because I do. With everything that I have.
Don't let those 15 reasons scare you away, however. Most of the time I'm happy with what's going on. I'm fun to be around. I love watching sports, and reality shows, and Disney movies. I'll cheer you up when you're sad, and cry with you if you need someone. I'm a super fun person to hang out with. It's pretty easy to make me happy; put on Big Hero 6, hand me chocolate and a blanket, and we're good to go! But seriously. Baymax.
Please share this. I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this, and I'm here if anyone ever needs to talk.
But please, text only. 😂😘