I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at the age of 16, although I can recognize signs of it from the early age of 13. Even now I regularly see my doctor, have been through counselling and take medication. I’m not ashamed to admit any of it, and so I thought, maybe I should share how anxiety actually affects my life and work.
This post is just about anxiety; depression is a whole other beast I won’t get into today. Maybe another day.
Anxiety affects every part of my life in one way or another. It starts at bedtime, when I’m trying to fall asleep but my mind is racing, running through all of the things that happened that day, and the things I need to accomplish over the next few. It makes it nearly impossible to get a good night’s rest, as I toss and turn for at least an hour, followed by anxiety-ridden dreams.
It’s there as soon as I wake up. When I’m trying to get out of bed, but the shear amount of things I have to do feels crippling. From brushing my teeth, to getting Sidney off to school and especially getting dressed. Trying to decide what to wear is the worst part, and I’d rather just live in my pajamas. There are times when I do, but only when I can spend days locked indoors. When I work at home I’m happy wearing band t-shirts and comfy shorts or yoga pants, and that makes getting up easier. But I’m in school right now and there’s always too much to do in the house, and out.
I don’t like eating breakfast right away. I hate cooking. I want to eat healthy but I don’t want to make food. I don’t know if that has anything to do with anxiety, or just me. But mostly it’s because my stomach is still in knots from overthinking everything the night before.
Driving is the worst. I absolutely hate driving! Every moment of it makes my skin crawl, as I try to safely transport my family and me from point A to point B. I can’t even make left turns on busy roads, because all I can think about are the people waiting behind me, and how annoyed they must be. I’ll drive around in circles before I block traffic. And still, every morning I wake up at 6:30 to drive my husband to work, drive my daughter to daycare, and drive myself to school. By the time I turn the engine off I need a few minutes to calm down. So I just sit there, taking deep breaths until I can function again.
Big crowds suck. Last time I was on the floor at a big concert, squished among hundreds of people, I kept thinking about how I was in everyone’s way. Like, how is that even possible? Because we were all squished together, without any choice. But still I feel the same way, whether it’s a concert floor, the school halls or walking through the mall.
Sometimes when I’m working away on the computer, my to-do list looks so big and scary, I have a hard time doing it. I push it aside, put it in a drawer, ignore it until I can’t any more. But the tasks just build up, and so does my anxiety, and the only way to start ticking off the items is to go lay down and cry, to release all of the anxiety and worry that’s built up through tears and heavy sobs. And only after I’ve cried until I can’t cry any more can I pick myself back up and get back to work.
It’s annoying, and it’s time-consuming and I hate that I have to live like this. The way my chest feels tight, when my hands sweat uncontrollably, when each muscle aches from tension.
But that’s life. For now at least. Maybe one day that will change, but for now I’m still learning the various coping mechanisms that help me get through. And I do get through, each day. I make it to my classes, I get to work on time. I keep on top of the housework, and my responsibilities as a mother. For the most part, anyway.
I hope for your sake that you don’t have to live with anxiety. It can be real shitty. But if you do, what are some things you have found helpful?