Today was a good day until it wasn’t. I woke up tired this morning (I’ve been working a LOT lately) but aside from that I was great! Went to Barre, had a great class, grabbed a vanilla almond milk latte from my favourite coffee shop and caught up on a couple shows. Then I napped and my day shifted. I had an awful dream and woke up really anxious. Since anxiety plays such a big role in my daily life I didn’t realize just how anxious I was until I was getting ready to leave the house. I was moving slowly but figured it would pass since I was looking forward to hanging with some cool people and checking out a new local brewery in the process.
I lasted an hour and a half. I was restless the entire time, quiet as ever, and very uncomfortable. I had about 3 sips of beer while I was there and decided I had to call it. So I’m writing this from under a pile of blankets, in the comfort of my home, trying to calm my anxious mind.
I always want to fight my anxiety and prove it wrong, but I’ve learned that this isn’t always the best route to take. As much as I need to overcome a lot of things relating to anxiety, sometimes I need to listen to the messages my body is sending me. Right now I’m very overwhelmed in life and I’m aware of that. I have too much going on but I can’t do much about that at the moment – I also might be fighting what I call ACTUAL sickness. These can lead to anxious outbursts that seem to creep in for no obvious reason.
Since I usually react to anxiety by feeling sick in various ways, as a kid I used to call it “my sickness” which therapists immediately made me stop doing. Though as an 11 yr old kid who threw up multiple times every day and continuously felt nauseous, I can’t blame my young self for dubbing it a sickness of sorts. Even my 27 yr old self agrees – it will always be my sickness. But I also agree with the therapist in that I should be more positive about it. So in my life there’s anxiety sickness and actual sickness.
I really struggle with fighting my anxiety vs. listening to it. I think I did well this evening, staying for a while and then deciding the best thing to do was leave. It was a weird situation because usually when I’m anxious in a social gathering it’s due to a person there or a situation that happened there. But this evening it was just that I happened to be anxious in that space. This helped me not feel guilty about leaving – I knew I needed to get to a comfortable place physically so my mind could hopefully find that comfort as well. On the other hand whenever these things happen, even if there’s no reason to feel guilty, I do. And it never helps the situation. I considered staying a little longer and fighting it, but after the long week I had I knew I needed to leave. As soon as I sat in the car I noticed I was shaking and called my mom.
My mom and I are extremely close and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know my anxiety has a lot to do with it as well. She’s the only person in my life who has been with me since the very beginning of my anxiety journey that began with not knowing what was wrong with me, to sitting beside me in the hospital through multiple tests, to getting diagnosed and finding me a therapist. I’m so thankful and happy that my mum has always been open minded and understanding towards mental health. I don’t know where I would be in this anxiety journey without her but it certainly wouldn’t be this far. (Happy British Mother’s Day Mum! Xo – we’re British, it counts).
So I called my mum. And I kind of talked, kind of cried, and listened to her tell me about the dogs and the new fast water boiling feature she found on her 2 yr old stove today. And then she expressed her frustration with my anxiety because after years of helping me with it to the best of her ability, she knows there isn’t anything she can do. And she hates that. Because she’s an amazing Mum.
I had a conversation about my frustrations with anxiety last week with one of my all-time best friends. She’s also asked me many, many times if there is anything she can do to help.
Today, a couple of people at the brewery that knew I didn’t just “not feel well” asked if they could do anything. One of them, someone who has become dear to my heart, was even offering to rub my back in case that would help to calm me down so I could stay. Another amazing human offered to be someone to talk to if I ever need it. And another was just the most understanding, calm, beacon of support and comfort from the moment she sat in my car and I told her what was going on.
These offers of love, support, and help make me speechless. My answer is always so thankful and appreciative, and I always have to say “No, there isn’t anything you can do to help, unfortunately.” But this kindness being thrown at me in shaky or smiling times are so appreciated. I’m sure I can speak for many anxiety warriors when I say that while I wish there was something you could do to help, knowing that you’re there and that you care enough to offer help means the absolute world. Just being there has me forever grateful for you.
Even I lose track of how often I feel anxious because the reality is that it is my normal. But you people who care – for me or anyone else in your life that has similar struggles – you’re the ones that get us through. You call us strong and you call us brave, and while I usually don’t feel this way, when I do it’s because of you. That strength, that courage – it’s from your hugs, your kind words, your empathy, your support.
So THANK YOU! Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to admit that it is SO FUCKING HARD to live with anxiety. I always undermine it, and it’s probably a pride thing. But it feels good sometimes to let that wall down and admit that it’s a life that is often terrifying and involves constant worrying, physical sickness, panic attacks, and tons of doctor visits and question marks.
And thank you so much for reading this and understanding a little more about me and the world of anxiety. Thank you for the hugs, for the kind words, for reminding me that I’m strong, that I’m brave, that I’ll get through this each time. Thank you for offering to rub my back, to talk, for putting up with my texts asking if you’re mad at me (without any reason for doing so aside from my own worry), and for being so understanding. Just, thank you.