Right after I wrote my very first blog post last night, I was attacked by this big, ugly monster named Anxiety. I am very familiar with him, and he’s sort of a jerk. Well, sometimes he’s a big, ugly monster. With sharp teeth and a large, snotty nose. Other times, he’s a firefly fluttering nervously about in my dark room keeping me from sleep. Or sometimes he’s a nasty, sharp thorn stuck in the side of my brain, constantly reminding me of the most painful parts of my past. But a lot of times, anxiety is just a towering shadow lingering over me, which I have no choice but to stare up at while I internally scream, cry, and all around freak out about all the “What If”s and “But!”s and “Should I Have Done Something Different?”s and “What is Going to Happen Now?!”s and “Please, make this stop!”s. And then sometimes, someone asks if I am okay. And I usually lie and say, yes. I am completely fine, because if most people knew what I was thinking and how hard I was thinking about it, they’d probably call me crazy. And right after I say that I’m fine, anxiety swallows me whole. Well, I hope I was delicious.
Having anxiety, for me, is weird. That isn’t the most eloquent way to put it, but really, it is. And it is even weirder when it’s paired with extreme compulsive thinking. Everyone at one point or another thinks about the silly things in their past that they have done, or about that really freaky looking bug they saw on television that made them cringe for a moment. And those thoughts bring up emotions and other thoughts. I think that’s just what our brains do, which I understand considering our brains are these massive vaults of memory and information. That’s a big job to have, so naturally from time to time, things are going to escape and wander about. It’s cool brain, we forgive you.
Here’s where it gets weird: While we forgive the brain for once in a while slacking off on the job, there is a difference between thinking about things for a bit of time and moving on, and thinking about one of those things on repeat for three weeks and letting it effect how you eat, sleep, work, and exist. While I have had a complicated life that has in fact been very challenging, and certainly scary at times, I lack any coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges, and this ultimately makes every situation terrifying, whether my life is being legitimately threatened or I am just somewhat uncomfortable. The worst part of it all, though, is that my brain is well aware that I don’t have to be so scared, or that I don’t have to be so troubled by something like just a single image I really did only see for a few seconds. But my brain does it anyway, and I am dragged along for the ride. I can’t fully express how frustrating this process is. One trigger is all it takes. Whether it’s a single word or an entire city…once I start to go down, I am forever falling.
My anxiety keeps me up at night thinking about if one of my health problems will kill me because they have gotten so close before, or if they will prevent me from starting my life before I ever get the chance. Anxiety brings me to tears constantly because I worry that I may never see the people I love again once I move to a new state this summer. It makes me compulsively check my neck and back for weeks by rubbing my hands over them, because of an image I saw of a creature with what I thought was disgusting skin. Anxiety prevented me from making music in college because I was stunned by the fear of disappointing my mentor as well as all the strangers in my class. All of these thoughts take place in my spirals of thinking. While I lay still in my bed, or quietly clean at my job, my mind is overwhelmingly loud. Like a concert during a thunderstorm, it all eventually gets so loud that all the sounds begin to blur together, and then it just all becomes white noise, and I am left exhausted.
The weirdest part of it all though, is that not always, but sometimes, all it takes to finally calm me down is a few comforting words from my best friend, mentor, or boyfriend, telling me that things are going to be okay. Or a really big hug. Those are good too. Once in a while, the giant monster named Anxiety is brought down to bunny sized by just a few drops of love. He’s still around, but not so ugly. Not everyone understands that, unfortunately. I often have people tell me, “I just told you everything is fine, why do you need to hear it again?” but really, I will always need to be reminded that life will be okay, and that I am cared for. Not because I forget it, but because just hearing it is like being given medicine. I need to often hear that I am safe, because I so often don’t feel I am. I suppose that’s tricky, so I don’t blame the people who don’t quite get it. But to the few people that do, and that are the ones that hit “Player Two Press Start” while I’m battling that big jerk, Anxiety, I am grateful to them beyond articulation. The power of being made to feel comfort and safety should not be underestimated, whether you are someone who helps a person with anxiety, or a person who has it themselves.
I’m sorry I have to say it, but you look like you’re sad
Your smile is gone, I’ve noticed it bad
The cure is, if you let in just a little more love,
I promise you this, a little’s enough.