Anxiety is a major part of my life, and yet it’s something that I very rarely discuss or give it the credit it deserves for making my life an impossible task. I’ve always lived with anxiety, since I was a child, I cannot remember a time when it hasn’t plagued my every action.
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, job interview, exam, public speaking. I think most people can sympathise with the feeling of being anxious. But I think it’s quite difficult for those who do not have anxiety to understand or sympathise with those who find it difficult or even impossible to perform the simplest of tasks.
I am often very embarrassed of my anxieties, they are things that I associate with being a grown up, like being able to cross the road, or calling someone to make an appointment, or even walking into a building on my own. And yet these are all things that I find incredibly difficult. By default, this makes me feel pathetic and inadequate, like the rest of the world has grown up and my 20 something year old self is still trying to figure out how to manoeuvre the world.
I have however, overcome some of my anxieties, I work in an office in a customer facing role. Those with anxiety will understand what the problem is with this picture, phone calls and being shouted at, the nightmare of all nightmares. But every day I go in to work, I get shouted at, I (try) to not let them get to me, I make the phone calls, but I make sure I write a script first (oh how I wish I was joking about the script).
And that’s the big thing about anxiety, especially if you’re trying to overcome certain anxieties; you plan and over plan everything. For example, if you need to go in to town to get some lunch, you plan the route beforehand, you think about which road you’ll cross at, and then you plan 3 different routes and roads you can cross at just in case the traffic is busy on the first route and you feel too self-conscious to try to cross the road. So as you can imagine, having to do this with almost every aspect of your life, gets pretty tiring and tedious.
And then you get the anxiety and panic that come out of nowhere, the ones you can’t explain. My partner and I went out for dinner last night, to the same place we always go to, where I have started to feel comfortable going. But for some reason my anxiety was off the scale, I felt like everybody was looking at me, they knew I was anxious, they knew I was failing. Which only made everything worse; it was a cycle of panic and disaster. I tried to stay calm, to reassure myself but the feeling stayed, it got worse rather than better. Before I knew it, I was having a panic attack (a somewhat controlled one); I was trying my best to not let them see. But because I was in that state of panic for so long, I was starting to get light headed, my hands felt numb and I just could not hear a thing. That’s one strange thing about my anxiety, when it gets really bad; I have this kind of temporary deafness thing going on. It’s something that’s difficult to get an explanation for; I don’t know if anybody else has this? But the thing is, after it reached its peak, I told myself it was ok, and luckily the panic stopped. The physical symptoms were still there, and I was still scared of their judgment, but I convinced myself that it was something I could cope with. It got slightly better.
I believe my anxiety stops me from living my life a lot. But it’s something I’m working on constantly. There’s so many things that I want to be able to do, hopefully I’ll be able to overcome the obstacles and do them someday. I’ll keep you posted on that one.