It’s only Tuesday. Only two days have passed since the weekend but it feels like a lot more than that. I feel like everything is falling apart around me.
It’s not. But that’s my anxiety.
Things are a bit more intense than usual. I’ve been saying how busy we are at work and that isn’t showing any sign of letting up. At the moment it feels like two steps forward at the same time as two steps back. I’ll catch up on one thing and in the process get behind in something else. Everyone at work is really stressed and we are looking out for each other which is great. I had to leave early today though. I couldn’t cope with one of my workmates negativity, rudeness and panicking. I feel that no matter how stressed you are, there is no need for rudeness and when I’m stressed I struggle to deal with it.
Last Monday I started a new course at my mental health support center, called Wellness Recovery Action Plan, or WRAP. We are learning how to address our triggers and making a plan for how to overcome them when we do have them. This is designed for all sorts of mental health issues, not just depression. This group couldn’t have come at a better time for me, but it’s another thing that I need to add to my already busy schedule. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed.
I wanted to talk today about my anxiety, what triggers it and how it affects me. I am feeling very stressed and anxious at the moment and I’m hoping that writing it out will help to calm me down.
All my life, I have been labelled a worrier. I think I have a worried resting face, because I’ll be smiling at someone and they will tell me not to be so worried. This actually really annoys me and in the past used to be a trigger for an instant bad mood. I’ve managed to overcome that now, as the only person who loses if I’m angry is me, so what’s the point. But the reality is, until recently, I probably was worried about something.
Bills, my job, friends, food, health, you name it, I worry about it. I remember at 11 or 12 years old telling my mum and her friend that I had trouble sleeping because I was worried about things. They told me I was being silly, that a kid has nothing to worry about. They were right, because the older I got, the more genuine things I had to worry about (and non genuine too), but in my young mind they were consuming my life, even though I now don’t remember what they were.
So many mornings on the drive to work, I worry that I haven’t locked the door, or turned off my hair straighteners, even when I haven’t even turned them on. I’m now in the habit of checking these as I leave for work, but there are still days I freak out about it.
I don’t like being in bed at night if there is no one else in the house. Sometimes I even freak out if Zombie is asleep and I’m awake. Every noise I hear instantly sends my mind racing that there is an intruder. I lie rigid, breathing as quietly as possible in the hopes that this non existent intruder will think I’m not there. If I manage to fall asleep I tend to have dreams about intruders being in the house. This happened when I lived at home too, but it got worse as I got older. This is one of the reasons I am so grateful that I sleep better now, because I don’t have to deal with this as much.
If I text someone or send them a message on Facebook, if they haven’t responded within an hour (or a minute of the seen notification on Facebook) I panic that that person is angry at me. I rack my brains for hours wondering what I could have done to upset them. I mentally retrace my steps of every recent encounter and even though I can never find a reason (because there isn’t one), I’ll still manage to make one in my head.
I’m usually late for everything. Part of the reason for this is because I often procrastinate leaving the house to delay the inevitability of having to face life, although not so much lately. When I’m late I tend to freak out that I’m going to miss out on something or be in trouble. And yet this constant stress has never motivated me enough to be on time.
I panic when I’m cooking that things aren’t going to be ready at the same time. I worry that it won’t be ‘perfect’ if I don’t time everything just right. I have managed to relax a bit here, by having everything ready before I start the actual cooking process, but I still worry about timing.
I worry about money. I earn a decent salary and I will actually be debt free (including student loan) this year, but I still freak out about the cost of everything. I hate spending ‘large’ amounts of money on things (by large I mean more than $20, which isn’t actually large) so I tend to buy the cheap options and then freak out when I have to replace them again. Once my bank balance gets below a certain amount I panic that I won’t make it to the next payday, even though I might not even need to spend another cent for the rest of the fortnight.
If I get a little behind at work I freak out about getting everything done. I tend to be doing 3-4 tasks at once when this happens in an attempt to make up for it, but of course this isn’t actually faster.
Social situations scare the shit out of me. Sometimes even family ones, although to a lesser extent. I usually look forward to going out but the closer it gets to the time, the more I panic. I’m not very good at small talk and I often ‘sit in the corner’ at parties and I get nervous about what people will think of me. I used to overcome this with alcohol, but it was only ever temporary and it wasn’t a good fix at all.
I go to all the social club events at work and I enjoy them, but I feel awkward. What on earth am I supposed to talk to these people that I see every day about?
I get really anxious about asking for favours. I’ll often spend at least half an hour working up the nerve to ask, for fear of rejection.
I spend a lot of time on the phone at work to my clients and I’m fine with that, but as soon as it’s a call I need to make for personal reasons (even ordering food), I freak out. I worry that the person on the other end will be judging me. Even though I don’t know them! I am actually getting better at this, because I have to do it a lot, but it’s taking a while.
I get anxious about running out of time. When I was 25 I was scared that I had left it too late to start a family. When it gets to 3pm at work I panic about how much work I have left to do and how I won’t get it done in time. I’m freaking out a little right now because its 8.25 and I feel like it’s getting too late to publish this post.
I tend to apologise for everything because I worry that people will be angry with me if I don’t.
If I get an unusual pain I tend to convince myself that it’s life threatening until it goes away. If I read about an illness or catastrophe happening in the world I tend to panic that its going to happen to me, or happen here.
If I have a disagreement with someone, even if it’s small or inconsequential, I will think about it for days. Thinking about what I could have said different, replaying it over in my head with different outcomes. Sometimes I’ll remember a disagreement I had with someone years and years ago and think about that for a few days, changing the outcome in my head. It’s not ideal.
I’m actually better than I used to be. If someone didn’t like me, I would spend months agonizing over why and coming up with plans to make them like me. Now I don’t care. I can say that honestly.
I used to subconsciously sabotage my relationships. I would convince myself that the person didn’t actually like me and I’d go out of my way to be ‘the perfect girlfriend’, doing things to try and sway their feelings. If they went out without me I would convince myself that they weren’t going to come home. Or that when they did come home they were going to end it with me. Thinking errors. It was exhausting and I’m really pleased to have passed that stage.
These are the major anxiety triggers in my life, but it also creeps up unexpectedly at times too.
There are a lot of things I don’t worry about anymore, which is nice. But at the moment I can feel it creeping back, just due to the stress I’m under at the moment. Which is why it’s really good timing for this WRAP course.
Hiding anxiety is exhausting, but sometimes it’s easier than showing it and having people tell you to calm down or relax when you know full well that you can’t. I am glad that I am getting help for it now because I am slowly learning how to counteract these feelings and thoughts and thinking errors.
At the moment I am taking it one day at a time. Making sure I do some yoga each day, as this calms me and remembering to stop and breathe. Hopefully one day I will have a better hold on it, but good things take time.
Hump day tomorrow and it’s my week for seeing my depression support group. I always feel better after group so I’m looking forward to it.
Smiles and Sunshine