... is awful. It's prevented me from a lot of things - in the last year especially, when I really began to notice the impact it started to have on my life. And while I can go days and days (sometimes even weeks) without feeling the slightest brush of anxiety, the last several weeks have been ... tough.
Anxiety affects people differently, and what triggers your anxiety will always be different for different people - for me, I think a sense of personal security has something to do with it. To be clear, no I do not feel like there is some vast and unknown threat hanging over me it's more like ... constantly questioning where you stand with people.
Common thoughts include "They haven't texted me back yet. Did I say something wrong?" "You're totally going to get fired - why can't you do/accomplish this?" I constantly analyze things people say to me - including compliments. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the worst person at accepting compliments. I'm not marred, and no kids ... clearly there must be something wrong with me; and on, and on it goes. A myriad of a thousand different thoughts in a thousand different situations on any given day. I try not to obsess, but it's hard.
I have learned that obsessing makes it worse; trying to figure out why I'm anxious makes it worse; trying to find the solution to make it go away seems so far beyond impossible. All of it then coalesces in to this gigantic mountain of impossibility and there you stand at the bottom - a tiny little speck at the bottom riddled with doubt and fear, gnawing away on manicured nails convinced that you lack the skill to ever get to the summit, its view unattainable.
Anxiety has also kept me from a lot of social things as well - mostly because I doubt whether or not people will like me, or that I'll say the wrong thing, or come across as dumb if they start talking about something that I say, or that they'll think I'm too crass and unladylike because I have a potty mouth.
Yesterday, my anxiety crept to new heights. My chest was tight all day, and it physically hurt to breathe. My hands hand pins and needles all day. I would get tunnel vision and both my ability to focus and concentrate went on extended holiday. I somehow survived the work day (although only just) but to say that it was productive is just shy of the most ridiculous understatement ever uttered. It's hard to feel productive and accomplished when having a basic conversation over the phone with a co-worker becomes monumental and you can barely catch a breath, and you feel like your having that conversation from a million miles away and it takes physical effort to bring yourself back to the conversation and concentrate and focus on the words so you can formulate some sort of basic response - even though your mouth feels like it's filled with cotton balls, and your doubting that you really made your point clear because it feels like the right words just.won't.come.out.
Today is slightly better. I still have lingering anxiety but it isn't as bad. While there is a part of me that wants to be out and about in the city to enjoy the first nicest and warmest day we've had in weeks, I have instead been hiding away, cured up on the couch under blankets and binge watching multiple episodes of Sherlock (featuring the glorious Benedict Cumberbatch). I was hungry, but making food seemed to be of a task, and going out for food seems insurmountable, so I instead have ordered take away sushi - thank you, skipthedishes.ca - although, I undoubtedly will berate myself for the money spent on food as it could undoubtedly have been spent on something a little more worthwhile ... I'm assuming, anyway. That's usually how my internal conversations go.
But if I have on piece of advice for people who know anyone suffering with anxiety it is this:
Don't ask us what's making us anxious, or what happened to make us anxious. Anxiety doesn't necessarily have reasons. It sometimes just merely is and is unceremoniously dumped on us - like that one family member who shows up announced and says they're staying with you, and you have no idea why they're here, how they got here nor how long it is exactly they plan to be here for. You merely accept them, make up the spare bedroom for them and hunker down and prepare to wait it out for as long as you can. Then, when they leave you change the locks on the doors, close the blinds, shut off all the lights and pray to whatever celestial being is in the area at the moment that if they could please make this the last time that that happens, it would be gratefully appreciated.
Ask us instead what we need, or how can you help. Maybe we just need an inane conversation to bring us out of our heads and back to reality ... slowly and gradually.
Maybe we just need a hug, and a cry - although we may not be entirely sure what it is we're crying about, only that we are and that afterward, dry and empty and exhausted, we feel a little better.
Maybe we need a little comfort food, blankets and Netflix.
Maybe we just need you to be there with us. We may not need to talk. We may just need to hold your hand, or lay our head on your shoulder.
Tell us that you love us; that you're here for us; that it will be okay.