Every person has a different experience of anxiety and how it impacts their life. For a long time I didn’t think that I had anxiety. It wasn’t until I was writing a short story a few years ago, that I realised I did. Reading another post made me see that my anxiety was manifesting itself as anger. I thought I had an anger problem, when I had an anxiety problem.
My treatment team ask me what I am anxious about. I always say everything, because I am too embarrassed to admit exactly what it is. Then I decided that I needed to take away the power that my anxiety has. I want to talk about the things in my average day that make me anxious. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that.
6:15am: My first alarm goes off. I’m so worried that I will sleep in that I have several alarms set for the morning. Somehow I still manage to sleep through them on occasion.
6:30am: On a good day (which isn’t very often lately) I get up at this time. I get dressed now, worried that I won’t have time later. Do I look good in this outfit. Are my pants see through? Will people look down on me for this outfit? I didn’t shave my legs this week, I hope no one notices.
7:50am: Mr 6 doesn’t eat much for breakfast. If people find out how little he eats they will think that I am denying him food. I’m overweight, I must be eating the food meant for him instead. Are we going to make it to the bus in time? I yell at Mr 6 to hurry up. What will the neighbours think? Is that person staring at me? Will that woman be at the bus stop again? Why are there so many cars? It’s too noisy, please stop talking.
8:10am: I knew that we were running late. I’ve obviously missed the bus. Did I miss that there was some kind of strike today? We’re going to be late. I knew that we should have just walked. It’s so close, why don’t I just walk?
8:35am: I need to go now if I want to catch the bus. Mr 6’s teacher isn’t here yet. Will he be OK here by himself? What if he wanders away and no one notices? Does he think that I don’t care because I leave before his classroom opens? It’s so noisy, please stop talking to me.
9:00am: I will catch the bus to the shops so that people don’t wonder why I bother catching the bus just down the road. I don’t want to walk, too many people will look at me, too many thoughts will crash through my head. Why are there so many people here? I need to get off a stop early but I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. I’ll put my head down so people can’t see me, but I can feel their eyes boring into me.
10:00am: I sigh with relief as I walk in the door. Finally I am home, I am safe. I climb into bed, pulling the blankets up under my chin. After flicking through social media, I set my alarm for 12pm. I set several alarms because I am so worried that I will sleep too long and leave Mr 6 at school. I hit snooze multiple times, reluctant to leave the cocoon of sleep. When I sleep I don’t think.
1:00pm: I feel guilty because I haven’t done anything today. I feel guilty, and defensive so nothing gets done. I will do it tomorrow. That day rarely seems to come. What am I going to cook for dinner? I don’t know if I will be able to cope if Mr 6 says he doesn’t like it again. Do I need to go to the shop after school? People will stare at me. I should have done something today. Is Mr 6 OK? Is he having fun at school? What if he gets upset and I’m not there to help soothe him? If he gets scared will there be someone to tell him that everything will be OK?
2:40:pm Do these people even like me? Oh hell why did I say that? That person looked at me funny, what did I do to them? I go between enjoying the socialising and wanting it to be over. I know that I will spend hours later combing through these conversations. Did I say something stupid? Why do I let myself get involved? I need to press the button to get off the bus, but I don’t want to cause any trouble. A driver said something under his breath, obviously it was about me.
8:00pm: Tomorrow I will be better. I won’t yell, I will get out of the house and I won’t let the anxiety get to me. Tomorrow I won’t live inside my own head. Tomorrow I won’t second guess myself. Tomorrow I will be a better person, a better mother, a better friend and a better partner. Tomorrow never comes.
Maybe next time I think about the things that cause me to feel anxious they won’t feel so scary after all. Maybe these words will take the sting out of them.