So This is Anxiety

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I’m lying there, tucked in bed, soft pillow, eyes open.  The exhaustion that led me to collapse here is gone, evaporated, replaced by a palpable heartbeat—fast, hard–and that now-familiar mixture of nausea and nervousness roiling in my stomach.

 

Boxes are unpacked, the house is not yet in order.  Things aren’t right–too loud, too bright, too much stuff.  There’s stuff, needless stuff, in my space, and I need it gone.  I need to purge, need to throw things away.  I want to get rid of everything.

“Heather, we need the extra carseats.  We can keep them in the closet or something.”

“No!  I don’t want them, we don’t need them, we have to get them out, they’re taking up too much space, I want it empty, throw them away…”

I’m crying.

 

I said something thoughtless a few days ago, and now it’s all I think about.  I know, in that small, logical part of my brain, that’s he’s likely forgotten it, but it plagues me every waking and sleeping moment.  I obsess about it for three full days, replaying the moment over and over in my mind and sliding deeper into the abyss of guilt and regret until I can’t take it anymore.  I have to get it out.  I confront him and apologize.  He doesn’t even remember the occurrence.

 

I’m driving on the freeway; I hate the freeway so much.  My kids are talking but I don’t hear them because there is a semi next to me, why is he driving next to me?  I’m going to hit him.  I’m going to veer into him, and I’m terrified.  I feel boxed in, he needs to move, we’re going to crash, I speed up to the sound of my fast, heavy, uneven breathing, and pass him.  Then I collapse into sobs.

 

My neighbor confronts me, we’ve been too loud.  The boys have been slamming the doors and it’s disturbing her.  She’s nice, but obviously irritated.  I smile and nod and apologize and promise to make things right.  She goes back inside and I feel sick.  I’ve never taken criticism well, and it hangs over me like a dark, thick, cloud for the next few days.  I lie awake at night and feel ill, replaying her words over and over in my mind.  I’m 25 years old and yet I still can’t stand to be censured, and in my mind I imagine how much our neighbors hate us and what they must think of me, and it gets worse and worse until it’s all I think about.

 

I wake up and feel immediately that everything is wrong.  The sound of my sweet boys talking is too loud and too sharp and it sets me on edge.  I clench and unclench my hands while I pace the house, my breath coming faster and faster, matching my frantic steps.  My bra is too tight, my pants are touching my legs in a way that grates on my senses.  A piece of hair touches my face and I think I might scream.

 

I walk into the kitchen and there is a plate in the sink and crumbs on the counter.  Things are out of place. Everything is dirty; always dirty.  Nothing is clean, nothing is right.  I won’t be okay until the messes are gone.

 

I’m sitting in the dark.  My whole body feels tight and strange, and I’m trying to control the quickly-increasing rate of my sharp, heavy, inhalations.  A small, warm body jumps onto the bed and crawls into my lap.  It starts to purr and the heaviness, the warmth, the lulling sound is comforting. Someone is there.  I feel a little better.

 

When wine and benzos (not together!) aren’t an option, a cat is a pretty close second.

 

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——

Disclaimer:  Mom, everything is fine.

 

🙂

 

 

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10 thoughts on “So This is Anxiety

  1. Okay, first of all? That selfie at the top of the post is wicked awesome. I am LOVING your hair and pensive expression.

    Second of all: I’m really sorry you’re feeling like this. I read just the first paragraph and I could feel ghosts of my own anxiety and I actually almost stopped reading. Not because it was bad, but because it was too good. It was too real.

    Anxiety is awful. In some ways, I feel like it’s worse than depression. Because with depression you get breaks. You can sleep, or eat, or watch stupid tv shows, and for a while, you feel better, or at least don’t feel at all.

    But nothing stops anxiety, at least in my experience. You either take meds/drink or the anxiety just decides on its own to go away and those are the only things that happen. I think some people, people who have milder anxiety, can do other things like yoga, or deep breathing, or, like, praying to the sun god or something. I don’t know, because none of those things have ever worked for me.

    With anxiety, you can’t sleep, don’t want to sleep, because everything is awful and out of order. You can’t eat, or you eat too much, but either way it doesn’t make the panicky feeling go away. Watching tv or reading is out–how am I supposed to sit still for 30 minutes!?–and exercise just gets my heart going faster and faster until I’m sure I’ll have a heart attack.

    It is interminable, you feel like it’ll never end, it overshadows every single thing you do, making you nitpick at yourself, at everything you say, until you’re exhausted and you just don’t want to do or say anything anymore.

    And it’s not fair, and it’s not right. And you, Heather, don’t deserve to feel like this. Just like you can’t banish it, you didn’t do anything to initiate it. There’s no secret trigger, you aren’t a bad person, you’re not feeling anxious because you did something wrong. It just is there, and it’s real, and you’re not crazy. You’re doing a fantastic fucking job right now, even if it doesn’t feel like it. You’ve just been dealt a shitty hand. You lost at genetic bingo (as far as mental health goes).

    It’ll get better. Seriously. You’ll wake up and start your day and a few hours in, you’ll realize that you’re okay. Until, then, hang on. It’s just okay to feel anxious, even though it sucks.

  2. I have been there and even further into the abyss. If you desire, I can tell you what I did to get out of it. But it takes a major effort and a massive mind shift. Love you tons!!

  3. This post spoke to me in many ways, because I am struggling so much with anxiety, too. I hope that maybe writing this post helped a bit – writing is the only way I know to express myself, and so that helps me sometimes. I hope it helps you too.

    Just know…
    You are good. You are okay. This won’t kill you. Snuggle Hobbes. Love on your boys. Breathe.
    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    xo

    • I am the same way–writing is a lifesaver. It really does help for some reason, to put words to the things in my mind. I always thought that talking or writing about things would make them worse, or make them more real by giving them a voice…but I’m finding it’s the opposite. It give me a voice.

      Thank you a ton and I hope you are doing better, it seems like you’ve been having a pretty rough time lately.

  4. You are amazing, you are strong, you are resilient, and you are human. I am so sad that your anxiety has been so rough, but I am glad that you decided to share. I hope it made you feel a teeny bit better.

    I send hugs from afar and the Simba in my lap sends kitty purrs, which are the best.

    And just let me say, that first photo you posted would make for the BEST Avril Lavigne CD cover. And isn’t that the dream? ❤

    • Thank you so much. And kitty purrs are the best. Seriously. I don’t know what people without cats do.

      And I loved your Avril Lavigne comment–she was the reason I straightened my hair almost every day in high school! Haha. She also inspired my eye makeup sophomore year and I distinctly remember my dad telling my that my eyes looked like “two black holes”. So I eventually backed off the eyeliner a bit…

      • Yes! Avril was the inspiration for many of my middle/high school life choices, like wearing fishnets and plaid “schoolgirl” skirts and ball chain necklaces. I’m still really shocked the parents let me out of the house dressed like that. Hahaha.

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