When I start my day, I go into autopilot and make breakfast for the kids, get them dressed, pack their lunches and drive them to school. I usually have errands to run afterward, and I try to stay busy.
I look forward to hanging out with my husband (my favorite human), eating dinner and talking about our days. I try to relax, but it doesn’t always happen.
At night after the kids are asleep and my brain is temporarily relieved of keeping small humans alive, my thoughts start to race. The voice in my head is full of self-doubt, telling me I’m not worthy, that I’m a screw up. So I stay busy – I don’t like to be left alone with my thoughts because demoralizing and exhausting. Sometimes I eat to distract myself from those thoughts, to make myself feel better. Sometimes I binge, only enjoying it briefly before regret and pain set in. It’s a compulsion and it’s hard to control.
In addition to all that, I’m sensitive to noises – loud noises freak me out and make me irritable. I snap at my kids and husband over little things.
This is anxiety, what it looks like to me anyway.
Yesterday I made lunch plans with a friend, and we picked a restaurant I haven’t been to in about a decade. I wanted to seem easy-going, up for anything so I said yes and immediately looked for their menu online and choosing what I would order. I started to get anxious about going out, so I asked my friend to pick me up. I was worried about parking and whether I’d get there first. It’s just easier if I’m not alone. It irritates me though that I’m like this. I’m constantly planning and rehearsing what I will do or say in my brain before (sometimes if) I do it. Sometimes I cancel plans because I get so overwhelmed. I hate change and trying new things. That doesn’t keep me from trying, though.
For instance, next week’s menu is comprised of all new recipes. I don’t have my favorite foods, my comfort foods, planned. And I’m already dreading it.
I’ve been this way since I was in middle school. I was plagued with anxiety but didn’t know what it was, assuming my nervousness and habits were normal. They were not. I had intrusive thoughts, which I still get today. They would be things like my family is going to die, that I was going to die, and included worst case scenarios. It was hard to deal with then, I was just a child.
They’re still hard to deal with. I’ll be interrupted by the thought of my husband or kids dying or that I’d get a painful, terminal disease. Most of the time I’m able to stop the thoughts and reset my thinking, but they leave a gross residue in my mind that’s hard to clean up. A lot of the time, my anxiety manifests as irritability or rage.
I’m not trying to bum you out. My goal is to point out that anxiety is not just being nervous about something. It affects my daily life and sometimes paralyzes me from getting things done and living a somewhat normal life. Others have it even worse. Anxiety presents differently people, so it’s best to be compassionate and empathetic to others who suffer.
To sum up, anxiety sucks.