Living with anxiety is an everyday battle for those of us plagued by it’s existence. However, it’s definitely not something that any one of us are alone in. Here is a list of things that I feel like anyone with anxiety can probably relate to, if not go ahead and humor me, okay?
1. Having the constant urge to check, double check, and sometimes triple check things
The nagging thought of whether or not I locked my front door, after leaving for work in the morning, is enough to ruin my entire day. Solution: install an outdoor surveillance camera that connects to my smart phone so I can double check whether or not I locked the door. In actuality, obsessively triple-check the surveillance footage and still feel anxious about the door being locked…what if I forgot the deadbolt and can’t see it on the recording? Someone is going to sneak into my house and steal my cat, or lurk behind my couch and kill me when I come home.
2. Not being able to sleep at night because you’re rehashing a conversation in your head
I spend a lot of my time awake at night because of this. My anxiety causes me to take the smallest comments and hyper-analyze them in my head, over and over like a broken record. Whenever I have sit down meeting with my boss, you can bet your boots that i’m going to go home and replay that entire conversation in my head, word for word when my bedroom lights go off. What did it mean when she said that my phone confidence has improved since I started working there? Was it really that horrible to begin with? Was it so bad initially that she wanted to let me go? Then I stay up until four a.m. shaking and sweating because I’ve somehow managed to convinced myself that I will be fired the very next day, and that probably everyone that I work with hates me! I have been known to take Benadryl or drink a more than a couple of glasses of wine so that I can knock out and actually get some rest after one of these “encounters”.
3. Having a general fear of driving
I have a love hate relationship with driving. Sometimes, if i’m having a good day and I’ve got a good playlist, then driving isn’t the worst thing ever. However, if I’ve got a passenger (you’re trusting me with your safety, say what?) or I have to take a long trip on a highway with big diesel trucks, or in the dark, or somewhere without cell reception and I’m alone, nope. Not okay. Not even a little bit okay. What if I get a flat tire and i’m pulled off on the side of the road and then someone creepy comes up and abducts me? I’ve seen The Hills Have Eyes, I know what kind of shit goes down in the middle of nowhere. Or what if a big rig pulls out in front of me and I get seriously injured? I only have two weeks of paid vacation, that’s not enough time to recover. I can’t afford to live off of disability! Or what if I have a passenger and I somehow swerve off the road and kill them? I don’t want to live with that guilt forever. My palms are sweaty nearly every time I enter and exit the car as a driver. Yikes.
4. Feeling constantly drained from worrying all the time
I’m already short on energy because I’m up during the night obsessing over conversations and my interpretation of their meaning. However, my worrying isn’t just limited to the times that i’m trying to get some sleep. I worry about a ton of stuff during the daytime too. Did I remember feed the cat when I left the house? Did I remember to pay all of the bills on time? How do I confront a co-worker that requests I complete work that’s not actually a part of my job? Do I have enough money in my bank account to last until the next paycheck? These are all pretty normal worries. However, I magnify them by constantly cycling them around in my head. I should be really skinny by now because of my constantly increased heart rate. It feels like I’ve ran an entire marathon by the time I leave my desk at the end of the day. I’ve got dark circles under my eyes, perpetually.
5. Feeling self-conscious about having anxiety
I worry about how my anxiety will affect me outside my home, a lot. You know that expression, fake it until you make it? This is my basic survival skill for getting through a day at work (or anywhere that involves interacting with people that I don’t know well). Sometimes I feel really horrible while answering phones and dealing with client related issues, but I just try to pretend that it’s not bothering me. When things get really stressful, I retreat to the bathroom until my palms aren’t sweaty and shaking. I do basically whatever it takes to keep my anxiety hidden from my co-workers, because the idea of them actually finding out gives me even more anxiety than talking on the phone with strangers. I feel like I probably tell myself to “act normal” at least 500 times a day. I’m constantly afraid that they’re going to catch onto my “weirdness” and then they won’t take me seriously. In general, it’s hard for me to allow people to get to know the real me, because that would involve telling them about my anxiety.
6. Being put on edge by “little things”
When I’m having a bad anxiety day, it’s the little things that really make it worse. From a room being overly cluttered, to music or the television being played a little too loud…it’s a feeling that I can best describe as being “overly-stimulated”. Basically, these seemingly minute things get me feeling some type of way. Have you ever been to a large rock concert and experienced the terror of being pushed into a large crowd? Everything is moving all around you, you can’t really escape, and it’s fucking loud…that’s the kind of terror I feel in moments where little things build up, and I feel like I’m having a sensory overload. There are times where I’ll come home and want to scream into a pillow because things feel out of place. It’s not really a compulsive thing for me so much as a symptom of feeling mentally exhausted. This seems to happen more when i’m forced to be social and I’d rather be alone. This is one aspect of my disorder that I find to be extremely frustrating, because it’s difficult to communicate to other people. These are the times where it’s best for me to retreat into a dark room and burrow myself in blankets. Also, a purring cat can work wonders.
7. Running worst-case scenarios through your head because you don’t have control over a situation/outcome
Letting other people plan out trips is a fucking bitch, for this exact reason. Plan a trip to Disneyland they said, it’ll be fun they said. Okay, so let’s set a date for said Disneyland excursion. Date is picked, days are schedule to be taken off from work, check. We need to book the hotel room immediately, or else it’s going to be more expensive and or we might not be able to find a room within walking distance of the park (because fuck paying for parking). Okay, the room is booked, now we need to buy our tickets in advance because the park might be really busy and could sell out, and then we booked the room and drove down for nothing. Okay, tickets are purchased, but the day of we still need to wait in line a half-hour early because even if you have a ticket, if the park is really busy they don’t have to let you in. This is a literal example of how my mind works when it comes to planning anything. I will stress out over every freaking detail, because i’m genuinely expecting the whole trip to fucking tank. I’m always genuinely surprised when things actually work out (even though they do the majority of the time, because of my EXTREMELY careful planning). I can’t really breathe until I’m actually at my destination. Maybe don’t travel with me.
8. Feeling like a hermit because going places and doing things is sometimes overwhelming and doesn’t feel worth the effort
Trying to control scenarios that involve leaving the actual house can be exhausting. I end up staying home in sweatpants a lot because leaving just doesn’t feel worth the effort. This is dangerous, because it can put me in kind of a depressive funk. As much as interaction and kind of feeling everything all at once is exhausting, it’s important for my mental health/well being for me to experience a change in environment once in a while. There’s only so many weekends I can wear the same grey Victoria’s Secret sweatpants and completely loose my mind. Thank goodness for my spouse’s gentle suggestion that I shower so we can leave the house and get something to eat. He can only take so many Saturday’s of Domino’s delivery (Hand down greatest app of all time; after so many orders you get a free pizza and you don’t even have to talk on the phone).
9. Fighting the urge to cancel plans because the idea of leaving the house makes your anxiety skyrocket
…And then there are the days where no amount of showers or food could make me want to leave the house. I hate it when this happens, because I don’t wan’t to be a shitty friend, but at the same time I know i’m not going to be good company if I do actually show up.
10. Actually cancelling said plans and staying home in bed instead
…Sorry friend, I can’t make it to your birthday outing because I have a massive sinus headache! I hate that I feel the need to make up false pretenses for cancelling, but most people don’t take poor mental health days as a legitimate reason for not wanting to participate. Trust me, if I could “just get over it”, I would. While I enjoy Netflix in my pajamas, it would be nice to have more of a normal social life. I don’t actually enjoy feeling to shitty to leave the house. In fact, I’ll probably spend most of my evening convincing myself that you hate me because I didn’t make it to your damn party. Have fun doing those tequila shots while I’m hyperventilating into my pillow!
To my readers, please share the most “ridiculous” thing that you’ve done to get out of going somewhere you didn’t want to be, in the comment section. I’m looking forward to your responses!
Here are the sources for the gif’s used in this article: