Hi! I swear I have a life full of adventures (I have a 7-mile race this weekend where I go up a mountain and come back down again!) and projects (bathroom renovation is in the planning stages!) and challenges (will bushes keep my dog from chasing my neighbor’s dog?) and victories (I am doing freelance work again!) and so on.
But I’m still talking about my anxiety. I AM SORRY BUT IT IS ALL THAT IS ON MY MIND IN THE MORNINGS WHEN I SIT DOWN AND WRITE AFTER A RESTLESS ANXIOUS NIGHT OF WORRY.
I had a new way to describe my anxiety pop into my head this morning. My husband likes to try to talk me out of my worry sometimes, like a lot of people do. Hell, I do it to my daughter! You know the script, it’s got variations of these lines in it:
“Don’t worry! Worrying won’t help anything!”
“That thing you’re worried about won’t actually happen, it’s so rare!”
“Those people you’re worried about don’t really care about you. And if they do, then you shouldn’t waste your energy on them! Save your energy for nice people!”
“Focus on the other things…on GOOD things!”
These are all attempts to get me to quiet the worrying voice inside my head. Sometimes by just telling it to shut up. Sometimes by reasoning with it. But what it’s hard to understand if you’re OUTSIDE my head, is that I can’t do anything but hear that worry because it is up SO LOUD. You know how you turn down the radio when you’re lost so your brain can try to reorient yourself and get yourself where you need to be? That is what it is like inside my anxious brain. I can’t really focus on anything BUT the worry because it’s SO LOUD.
But! Periodically it is like there’s a song break, a momentary blip in the silence and if I catch it sometimes I can be like, “Who cares if commuters in NYC hates you for your brief encounter because you don’t understand the Subway. They’ll forget about you 5 minutes later so don’t worry about them for 5 months before your trip.”
And for that BRIEF SECOND there is that clarity that you want me to have/see/feel when you give me the advice but then the next song comes on the anxiety radio and it’s loud again and I can’t remember that small second of clarity because all I hear is, “EVERYONE WHO LIVES IN NEW YORK HATES TOURISTS BECAUSE THEY BLOCK THE SIDEWALK AND SLOW DOWN THEIR COMMUTES AND YOU BETTER BE ON YOUR GAME OR PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE MEAN TO YOU.”
Sometimes I think, “If you had an anxiety disorder you would know how futile it is to tell me not to worry,” but then I remember that I have an anxiety disorder and I tell my daughter not to worry all the time. So I totally understand the instincts. But the radio in my head is too loud for me to focus on any of the potential attacks on my anxiety. I do my best and sometimes I can get through with my own attacks between songs, but sometimes we just have to work with the fact that it’s just too loud in my head and as long as I’m not curled up in the fetal position with my hand over my ears, then it’s a win.
BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT I WANT TO DO EVERY DAY. Every day I just fight the voices that say, “It’s too loud. I can’t do anything because the radio is up too loud. I’m just going to stay in bed and cry.” But I don’t. I function with the loud radio on constantly in my head and I do my best to work around it. I try to treat it like a hum until it’s really necessary to face it. So if you’re frustrated by my worry, just know that if I’m functioning in life enough that you’re just frustrated? Then I’ve done a lot more combat than you realize. If you’re not calling my doctor to discuss my catatonic state (this is not hyperbole, sometimes I teeter on the edge of that when things are really bad) then I’ve gotten the radio turned down just enough to function and let’s at least celebrate that victory.