It’s bright and sunny outside, and a hurricane of anxiety has hit my brain with some mild chances of hysteria. My head feels like someone’s got a blender up there and is whipping up some brain smoothie. Not fun.
I want to tell you that I’m handling it, that I’ve been calm and composed and haven’t let the anxiety monster drag me down to his dark lair. I want to say that I used ancient Asian meditation techniques to remain zen. But in all honesty, I feel like ripping my hair out and crying my eyes out on my bathroom floor.
The anxiety is pushing me down to that pit I know so well, but I’m hanging on to the edge with my pinky fingers. That’s the truth. What I want is to climb out and run far, far away from it. What seems so much easier to do is to just let go and give in.
The bottom of the pit isn’t a place I’d want anyone to be. It’s dark and once you’re there, you can’t feel anything. Smiling is like a distant fantasy, and happiness is just an illusion. All that’s left is a lot of fear. The anxiety rules your head, it becomes your brain.
I don’t like talking about my anxiety. Talking about it makes me anxious. I’m feeling a little queasy just typing it out. I guess it’s because I worry that people wouldn’t understand. It’s difficult to explain anxiety to the un-anxious. They never seem to understand that life, regular daily life, can be so frightening that you’d rather stay at home and cower under your bed.
Anxiety is the fear of the unknown. It’s knowing that nothing in your life is under your control. Anything could happen at any moment. And that thought is TERRIFYING. The anxious person’s mind goes into overdrive trying to recollect past experiences to sort of get some control over the future. The results are never as expected. Instead of control, you’re left with a pile of horrible memories and your own personal anxiety monster following you around everywhere, telling you repeatedly that you’re a bad person. He feeds on every single one of your insecurities and gets bigger every time you doubt yourself. You KNOW you shouldn’t believe him, you KNOW he’s lying, you KNOW that nothing he says is real. But after hearing the same things so many times, you can’t help but think that they’re all true.
To anyone, I must seem like I’ve got it all together. I don’t have anything together. ‘Together’ and ‘normal’ are words of fiction to me. There are days I can’t even function like a regular human being, I feel like a robot just operating like I was programmed to. I smile and say good morning, I go to work and try to be as normal as I possibly can. The whole time, the monster is sitting on my head, crushing it with his weight, whispering all the things I’ve ever screwed up in my ear. Hearing him talk is one heck of a pass time, I must say.
With anxiety, everything people say is somehow directly related to how inadequate you are as a person. Simple things like “You look good today.” translate to “You looked like crap yesterday.” Other times, I freak out over a punctuation mark (Why didn’t he put a smiley face at the end of his text? Does the period mean he hates me?!), or a while trying to make a phone call (What if she’s busy? She won’t want to talk to me right now. She’ll have better things to do than chat with me.)
It’s incidences like that that pile up eventually. They plague my mind, and the monster never gets tired of reminding me about them. My head runs a thousand miles a minute, it races and sprints and I can never catch up to it. I’m out of breath, and the world feels like it’s spinning too fast, I feel the heat enveloping me, the noise is too quiet, and the silence is too loud. I need to get a hold of myself but I can’t. I scream for help in my head but nobody seems to hear. I cry out for someone, anyone, to tell me that everything is going to be okay, but there is no response.
The monster has his chains wrapped around me so tight that breathing becomes impossible. The tears follow because (1) I feel helpless and I don’t know what else to do, (2) I get angry at myself for not being strong enough to stop the monster, (3) I feel useless and weak after hearing all the terrible things the monster has to say about me, (4) I hate myself for listening to him and letting him have such a powerful control over me. And that’s how he wins.
He wins every time I listen to what he has to say. He wins every time I look in the mirror and wonder if I look fat. He wins every day I feel a little bit insecure. He just keeps winning over and over again, and I’ve had enough.
This time, I’m not letting him win. I’ve been to the bottom of the pit and out. I’ve stared all my fears in the eye and told them to F off once before. I can do it again, and I will. It takes time, but I know I’m going to crawl out eventually. The monster and his dark pit can’t get me again.
Anxiety is a bitch, talking about it is difficult, and living with it is worse. But this is better than therapy. My doodles keep me sane. My writing helps me escape. And you, my friends, are like life support.
For now, I’m holding on. It’s hard and I’m tearing my knuckles out, but I’m doing it. The monster isn’t going to win this time. Someday, everything’s going to be okay. It’s not today, and it probably won’t be tomorrow either. But someday soon, it really will just be okay. And I can’t wait.