When you hear the word anxiety, what pops into your mind?
Maybe it makes you think of panic attacks. Someone struggling to catch their breath with sweaty palms and blurred vision.
Truth is, anxiety comes in so many forms, and it’s just not that simple.
Anxiety is a complex beast that likes to play tricks on you and wants to control you. Anxiety is sneaky, and even when you think you’re ready for it, it always manages to find a way in.
Anxiety likes to pretend it doesn’t exist and it likes you to believe that you are, in fact, the issue.
Anxiety can make you think and do all sorts of funny things.
Anxiety makes me think and do all sorts of funny things.
Anxiety has snuck in while I’m scrolling through Facebook. It has made me pause on a meme that a friend has shared and it has convinced me that the meme is directed at me. Out of all the people in that person’s life they have shared that meme because I have done something to upset them.
Anxiety has roared in when I’m running late. When I was supposed to have left ten minutes ago but my daughter, wanting to pour her own milk, spills it all over the floor and it gives me permission to yell and stomp my feet and slam the doors.
Anxiety has whispered to me. It has pointed out that my boss is not spending nearly as much time with me as she used to, and that it must be because I’m not good enough for this job. Anxiety has whispered that I’m not good enough so many times that I often believe it.
Anxiety has mocked me. After spending an evening with friends, anxiety has mocked something that I said and is so sure that everyone in the room now thinks that I’m a complete idiot. Anxiety has laughed in my face and asked me why would they want to be friends with you?
Anxiety makes me talk and talk and talk. Anxiety is uncomfortable with silence so it forces me to fill it with sound.
Anxiety has a great memory. Anxiety will remember something that I said 5 years ago and every now and then will decide that I should remember that I often put my foot in my mouth.
Anxiety likes to remind me. It doesn’t want me to live in the moment but instead, it wants to keep reminding me of all the things I haven’t yet done. It wants to make sure that I am always a step ahead. It doesn’t like when I rest.
Anxiety likes order. When things stray from the plan, anxiety muddles my mind and winds it up like a top until the only choice I have left is to let it go and watch it run its wild course.
Anxiety will push back when I fight it. It will show itself in physical ways if it feels like that’s the best way to get attention. Anxiety has forced my body to throw up, to lose weight, to lose hair, and to lose sleep.
Anxiety has tried its best to take control of my life. Sometimes it wins a battle or two. It pushes and pushes and pushes until I give in. I do what it wants. I get angry and I shout. I distance myself from people. I say mean and horrible things to those I love. I cry tears of hurt and frustration. I rage inside until I collapse, spent, nothing left to give.
It leaves me feeling guilty, inadequate and weak.
And then I get back up and move on.
I refuse to let it win.
Anxiety is strong, but I am stronger.
You may have heard me refer to myself as a planner, a germaphobe, a worrier, sometimes high strung.
It’s really all code words for anxious and it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
I have spent way too much time and effort trying to cover it up, pretending it doesn't exist and hiding it in the darkest folds of my life. Truth is, anxiety is a part of me and it always will be.
Rather than continue to hide it, I want to own it. I am learning to work with it. If you look closely, you will see it in my smile, in my eyes, in my laughter and my tears. It is woven too deeply into the fabric of my life for me to try and remove it.
But every day I learn a little more about it. Every day I learn to how to manage it a little better.
Anxiety will always make me think and do funny things and every time I talk about it, I give it less power.