Here we are at 3:30AM on a Friday and I am sitting up in bed, in the dark, typing. My brain is spinning—and for me, that is life with anxiety. A constant overwhelming spinning coupled with attempting to force the thoughts to slow down. It’s a loop of repetitive thoughts that sometimes widens the circle, but is ultimately saying the same thing until my frustration builds so much I want to scream—but I can’t stop it. It’s fearing every ache and pain in my body but not being able to bring myself to the doctor to make sure I’m actually ok. It’s fearing losing everything I love because of some trivial shit I did in my youth. It’s forcing myself to stay the line and do the same routine because my brain does its own thing and I’m afraid if I change anything I will forget something. Oh, and it’s forgetting what I’m doing while I’m in the middle of doing it.
This is one area of my life I sincerely wish that affirmations and empowering quotes worked. I wish I could tell everyone suffering with anxiety that words work. But words do not take away the overwhelm. Words often to not help center when the brain is so far out of control. Shit, breathing hardly helps in these situations because you can’t slow your mind enough to remember to breathe. For my own sanity, I wish my ability to control applied to stopping the thoughts that whirl and whirl.
The truth is living with anxiety is fucking painful. It makes me feel completely worthless because I am blessed to be a fully able-bodied individual who is only stopped by my mind. My brain’s automatic default is, “You can’t do that!” followed by, “You should have done it.” It makes me angry because I miss out on what is right in front of me because my brain simply wanders on its own, often into frightening territory, places that don’t exist. It keeps me stuck which generates more anxiety because I’m already afraid that I’m behind the ball in my life. And it keeps me alone because most of the people in my life are tired of dealing with my crap and are tired of me trying to control every situation.
This morning I wish I had words of advice for how to work through this, some reminder that all is well. I’m exhausted and scared and the only thing that’s keeping me from running out the front door right now is that I know I’m not alone. I know that I am not the only one whose thoughts betray them every day. I know that I am not the only one who becomes exhausted by simply waking up. I even know that I am not alone in feeling this loneliness. That honestly does help. It also helps finding ways to help those people feeling the same things.
So maybe that is the advice/hope I can share in the midst of this morning’s spiral: we aren’t alone. While anxiety is an asshole, there are little rays of light that sometimes poke through. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find them. Sometimes we just have to be smart enough to turn around and face the sun. And the sun is still going to rise. I am breathing. If you’re reading this, that means you are too. And that means we can do something productive even if that means simply remembering to connect with ourselves. I’m going to start there.