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.
I’ve found that when I’m tired, I’m prone to everything being the worst. I swap it around and make it positive where I can. If I’m driving slow because of lousy road conditions and someone is sitting up the ass of my car, I tell myself I’m in a parade and they know they have to wait for me to drive at the right speed. It stops the anxious watching of someone being a douche behind me, which in turn makes me a safer driver as my attention is back where it should be, in front of me, instead of too much rearview mirror.
Yep I get like that too. I like the idea that you’re in a parade when people are driving like douches. Maybe I should tell that to Paul, he gets so frustrated when driving.
Vanessa’s idea about turning a negative into a positive sounds brilliant. I keep a journal, which I find helps me to offload some of my frustrations or anxieties. I do that, and torture my poor husband by making him listen to me whinge! We said for better or for worse …. 🙂
Haha, my poor partner listens to me whinge too! Lucky the love us hey!
I can very much relate to this. However, I will say that the feeling of everyone judging and watching you, that excruciating level of self-consciousness does get better as you get older. I’m in my middle 40s now, so I can definitely tell you that. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve totally banished anxiety from my life, but the worrying about what others think does get easier. “Tomorrow” doesn’t have to come because you’re already doing an amazing job. Just getting out of bed everyday when you have anxiety is totally amazing. You rock xoxo
That level of anxiety must be exhausting. You need to give yourself a pat on the back for leaving the house at all and continuing to parent.
I’ve sent a last minute email to say I can’t attend tonight’s film festival. Something I was kind of looking forward to but the effort it would take to get me ready just isn’t worth the little I would get out of it. There’s also the fact that my hair is now officially falling out and half my face is swollen. I don’t want to be seen by certain people who I know are attending looking worse than normal. Why if I’m honest I don’t want to have to be out with them when I’m looking the best I can. Seriously though, what should that matter. I’m wondering now if this isn’t some form of anxiety manifesting, considering I haven’t actually left the house in several days. Yes I have health issues that are impacting me physically right now and making it hard to function but seriously it might be time I looked at the bigger picture.
Thanks Raych. I think it’s good that you are taking the night off. It sounds like you might need it. Inbox is always open if you need a chat xx
Good way to let others share in what it is like to be ‘you’ and with your anxiety. This was a great idea. Did it feel better for you writing it down? I’ve certainly been troubled with some aspects of anxiety in the past 2 years and i “know” that it fools us and lies to us. The chattering mind is the most annoying part. I’ve been doing some work for myself using ACT…Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Do you know of it? There is a terrific book that is literally like a comic but makes so.much.sense. It’s called The Happiness Trap Pocketbook by Dr Russ Harris and Bev Aisbett and is around $25. Sooooo worth it to know that 1. you are not alone 2. you can take some steps to reducing the chatter too. Let me know if you want to know more! Denyse xx
It did feel better to get it all out. I have heard of ACT (here’s my post if you’re interested http://musingsofthemisguided.com/2014/10/act.html) , and use a few of the techniques to help stop the chatter. I found that ACT probably worked the best of all of the therapies that I have tried.
I have never realised the multiple alarms things to actually be a part of my anxiety. Mine are set at 6, 6.30, 7, 7.30 and 8. however mine may not particularly be part of my anxiety, I don’t know. I guess ultimately I don’t want to be late, but my alarms don’t stress me so much as I use them as a tool. They remind me I have time. Time to sleep a little more, or still time to make lunches etc. I get anxious when I use the snooze button as I can never remember how many time I pressed it so my multiple alarms are more like my snooze. If I’m tired, I can roll over and know I am not late. My 8am alarm is a different tone and it lets everyone in the house know that it will be time to leave the house soon. I’m not sure if any of these thoughts can help you with your anxiety or not, but I hope it does.
Actually until I read one of your posts about the different ways anxiety can show, I didn’t realise I had anxiety. Then I started taking note of things and went and seeny GP. My medication has helped me a lot, however, mine has never been extremely debilitating.
From reading the other comments, I’m glad this post has helped you a little. Yours thoughts overwhelmed me a little so I agree with Raych that you do well to even get out if the house so good on you.
Thanks for being brave enough to share a glimpse into the anxiety you live with every day. Like everyone above, I hope writing this down and facing it will help you get up and gradually achieve a little more each day x
I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder this year after several panic attacks. I am now getting the help I need, but have realised that this is all up to me to overcome (and to be honest, some days I don’t know if I like having that responsibility!)
I try to practice mindfulness, and deep breathing helps some days. But it an awful feeling, this anxiety. I am constantly reading books to educate myself on how to overcome and/or improve my anxiety levels. I hope that by writing this you feel better. And please know you’ve made me feel better as I totally relate to what you have written.
Anxiety is exhausting, isn’t it? As someone who has generally been anxious most of her life (but in denial for a lot of it too!) I kinda get where you’re coming from. It’s so hard to stop that little voice of anxiety once it’s on a roll! When I’m tired, stressed or PMSing, anxiety is so much worse!
Wow, that really did give me some insight into what living with anxiety must be like. Exhausting! If only we could turn off that inner voice, or take our brain out at night (like dentures) and pop them in a glass of water til morning so we could sleep in peace!!!
Yes, it is exhausting – the second guessing / extra voice in your head. As one of the other commenters said, I find the sleep aspect is the most helpful – I think you’ve commented on that too? But definitely getting the thoughts out – and the ACT approach, where you can identify without judging, is so useful. Take care!