This Is Just An Anxiety Blog Now.

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.

8 thoughts on “This Is Just An Anxiety Blog Now.”

  1. So, I won’t tell you not to worry, then. ? What I will say is how much I look forward to reading about your trip later…and how you found SO much of your worry was unnecessary and we’re able to enjoy the hell out of your AWESOME NY vacation! I say that as someone who has literally lived all over the country (including spending many weeks in NY) and rarely have I found people to be nicer! True story!!! ? you’re going to effing LOVE IT!!! (And don’t even get me started on how jealous I am y’all are gonna see Cursed Child… ?) X

  2. That sucks, and I’m so sorry you have to deal with the loud radio so often. I hope it’s not, but if your New York trip is filled with that mental noise, it’ll still be amazing that you did it. Even more so, actually, IMO. And I’m with you on my anxiety having little impact on my reaction to my kids’ anxiety,

  3. Have you heard of Kristin Neff’s book about self-compassion by any chance? It looks like she has some resources on her website too. It wasn’t an immediate cure-all for me, but it was very helpful (and would be more helpful if I remembered it more often!) as a new way to approach myself and my anxiety. So a response here would not be “Don’t worry” or “Oh, it actually won’t matter, ” it would be more to notice that you’re having a moment of suffering, that suffering is a part of our lives that we all have, and a hope that you can be kind to yourself in this moment. Anyway, I hesitate to give “advice,” but this book was helpful to me!

  4. My radio was super loud (about different things, still loud and crippling though). Therapy helped, and after a year of that my therapist gently suggested medication (which I was really resistant to a year earlier when we started) . So now I’m on anti-anxiety meds daily and they have turned that annoying radio waaaay down. Not off, but down to a point where I can calm myself down (most of the time). It’s been life changing. I share this because I’ve been where you are and I hope you can also find some relief somehow. It’s exhausting to live how you’re living/how I used to live. That damn radio is THE WORST. I wish you all the best!!!!

  5. Download Google Maps and you will do great on the subway!!!! My family and I were in NYC for a week and road the subway multiple times a day due to the use of that app. You put in your destination and there is a setting for subway and it will tell you your stop and everything! Now, the first few times I watched it like a hawk not to miss our stop………we also used it on the streets when we were walking. Be sure to pack a charger/battery pack as it drains your phone, but GAMECHANGER!!!

  6. I always love your posts…but THIS ONE! Oh my holy cow, that is EXACTLY what it is like! Sometimes it helps me so much to sort of have a “name” to things…makes it easier to cope. From now on I will think of this cursed, sometimes debilitating, anxiety as a song playing too loud in my head. With this in mind, I think I am actually going to try some “counter” music therapy! I wonder if that will work…I wake up feeling anxious, so put on some CALMING music to drown out the “anxiety song” playing in my head! I think you may really be onto something here, Kim! THANK YOU!

  7. *HUGS* I wouldn’t say I have full-blown anxiety – at least not diagnosed, constant anxiety – but I do worry a lot and have found that even if I quiet the noise the worry creates, I can still make mistakes or do things wrong because my brain is working so hard to keep the noise quiet that it can’t focus on doing a task correctly. Also? Exhaustion. Trying to function like that is exhausting. Your family/friends may know their advice is futile, but still feel compelled to offer it anyway because they really don’t want to see you suffer and they can’t NOT try to help you. That is my guess, anyway.

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