Being a patient of anxiety is a tough task. You have to fight yourself, your inner demons everyday to keep yourself alive, give yourself reasons everyday to not die. It’s a constant battle between your brain, which is consistently churning out hundreds of new reasons for you to die, and your heart, that clings on to that one beautiful reason to give life a second chance. So today, I’ll talk about what it feels like to be living in this parallel world, and how anxiety affects my brain and my day-to-day working. And how, I give myself hundreds of second chances everyday just because my heart points to that one glimpse of light that’s not far from the darkest end of the anxiety tunnel.
Anxiety takes you to a different world altogether. A world that is so dark, thousands of candles lit together cannot make it any bright. It’s a world where two negatives, instead of making a positive, make a bigger negative. A world characterized by one villain, and many heroes. Unlike your dreams, the villain here is not the world, its you. You are the only person who’s destroying the peace of the world just by breathing. People know it, and yet they are giving you a chance. A last chance to make you mend your ways. And yet, you are defying all their trust in you and being the asshole that they do not want you to be.
What others notice about you is you’ve suddenly lost a lot of weight. Your face looks like an old woman deprived of her teeth. The cheeks have sunken. Your eyes pop out, highlighted elegantly by the dark circles and the growing eye bags around them. You resemble a skeleton more than ever. Your lips have forgotten to curve into an upward path and amidst all the falling wrinkles, the only direction your lips know is the South. A sense of tremble and fear shrouds their cloud upon you. Worrying becomes a normal function of your brain, activated 24/7. Death feels like a natural recourse, since everyone and everything is trying to kill you. The voice box in your throat knows just two words because they’re frequent …I’m fine!
The nights are a haven of thinking, and some more thinking, and then some more. Your mind juggles from that result that should have been better but is not because you’re a duffer, to the unusual silence of your friend today. You think about the new people you met that have already adjudged you to be the biggest Dumbo they’ve ever met. You think about the confident way you could have tackled buying that small little candy, and you think about the number of times you’ve let everyone down, and already plan the future courses of action that will help you let them down again, and again. Over thinking is not a habit, it’s a natural reflex of your brain. As natural as sleep, and as natural as blinking of your eyes. The worst part is I know. I know over thinking is not good. I know it won’t make things any good. It’ll worsen them to an extent I can’t imagine. But nothing could stop me from tossing and turning in my bed.
There is a heavy feeling in my chest. Like when you receive bad news and feel like your heart is sinking. But it’s not momentary. It’s a constant, dull sinking feeling right in the center of my chest, just above the bottom of my rib cage.
I feel weak. Physically weak, almost faint. Like I’ll just tip over and shatter if the wind is too strong or my feelings become too heavy.
Brain chatter. My brain is always spinning in thought. Sometimes it’s fixated on one thought that I turn over in my brain again and again to examine it every which way I can, and then I do it all over again in case there’s something else I haven’t considered. Sometimes it’s multiple passing thoughts that flicker by one by one, randomly. Either way, my brain is neither calm nor quiet. It’s flustered.
I bite my lips and pick at my fingernail cuticles. Apparently, I am very fidgety with my hands and am constantly biting the skin on my fingers around my cuticles and nails. Sometimes I do this without even realizing it.
Tired. Very tired.
Detached. I don’t engage in conversation. I pull back. I’m quiet. I don’t feel much like talking and I don’t feel the urge to do things I’d otherwise consider fun.
Numb. I don’t feel sad per se (though sometimes I do feel sad), but I don’t feel happy either. I feel blank. Empty. Hollow.
Sometimes, I cry. I cry for no apparent reason other than I feel overwhelmed.
Irritability and anger. These two are intertwined. Every little thing annoys me and I get angry about it. Things that shouldn’t and usually don’t annoy me suddenly do. Things like when a person sits too close to me. Things like when I go to the supermarket to buy a specific thing, and they’re all out of that thing, and the other supermarket, which probably has the thing has already closed for the night so now I’m mad because I don’t have the thing I wanted, and if I had just gone out earlier I could have tried the other store and so I’m mad and frustrated at myself. Things like the aroma of my boyfriend’s dinner, and when he leaves his socks on the living room floor after I busted my ass all day cleaning the fucking house and I wish he’d pick them up. Things like loud noises, and chewing noises, and really just everything. Everything is annoying. Especially happy people. Happy, bubbly, perky outgoing people are really fucking annoying especially early in the morning. Like, just be quiet and stop smiling, please.
Lonely. It’s a strange oxymoron of a combination, but I simultaneously want to be alone and then when I am alone, I feel lonely. But I also don’t want to be around people. It’s a weird cycle that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I feel.
I curse a lot more. That’s probably the anger. Or the stress. It comes out in excessive use of “motherfucker” and “goddammit” and lots of “fucks” just sprinkled throughout my sentences.
Shame. I don’t like that I feel this way and I don’t want anyone to know I feel this way and so I try to hide it and then that just makes everything worse. I also assume everyone can see I’m being an asshole and they don’t know why and so they probably hate me. I assume they hate me and then I hate myself for allowing myself to behave in a way that would make other people hate me.
Yeah. It’s not super fun. But that’s how anxiety feels to me.
I’m not sure why I’m publishing this on a public forum. I don’t want sympathy or even tips on how to handle my anger and irritability. I’ll work on it (I promise). I think the reason I’m writing this at all is because anxiety can be lonely. You feel like you’re crazy and you feel like nobody will understand. But that’s simply not true. There are a lot of people who feel this way sometimes and a lot of people who will understand. There are also a lot of people who may not understand how you feel through personal experience, but they will be sympathetic nonetheless, perhaps offering a hug if a hug is what you need.
There are also people who will tell you to just stop. “You’re fine” they’ll say, or “It’s no big deal”. They will try to cheer you up as if cheering up is what you need when really it only makes you feel worse. They might tell you to smile. Dear god, I hope they don’t tell you to smile, but they might. These are the people you’ll want to punch in the face. And with all this said, this is what anxiety feels like for me. ~CTW~