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Just Can’t Shake It

I definitely always constantly find myself dwelling. I dwell, I worry, I freak out. I dwell. I dwell, then I worry. I worry then I dwell. I freak out. I worry and sometimes really and truly let it go. I worry and dwell and repeat. Are you annoyed yet? Because, SAME! This is my brain 24/7 and usually about the most ridiculous things.

For anyone who knows me even a little bit, or for anyone who actually reads these things, you know that I struggle daily with anxiety. Sometimes I think I should be an actor because I can be really good at hiding my crumbling emotions when I need to. And then again, people who I never thought would, have seen me cry or run to the bathroom to throw up. So there’s that.

Lately though, there’s been one thing that’s been eating away at me and I can’t let it go. In every moment my brain is not otherwise distracted, it’s right there in the forefront of my thoughts. Here it is, folks: I cannot let people in.

Growing up, I always thought I was an open, trusting person. However, upon reaching something some may call adulthood, I’ve realized that I am quite the opposite. I’ll tell you about my life, my friends, funny and embarrassing things that happen to me, and even what it’s like to live with anxiety. But I’ll never dig very deep. I have a lot of friends and I really do love them all in different unique ways. My brother always says “you have too many friends” and it makes me think about how I’m so thankful to have the personality that I do. I absolutely love speaking to strangers, even though I was taught not to, and I love making connections with people.

On the surface I seem confident and inviting, but on the inside there is a huge wall up, and behind that wall there’s a maze (similar to the last challenge in the Triwizard tournament) and then there’s a bank vault that takes a certain kind of key to unlock and voila, I’m hanging out inside deciding whether or not I can let you in. But it takes two. You have to have the right key and I have to want you to come hang out with me in my vault. This is super rare though because I get my yoga on, nap, read, and bake a lot in there so I’m not always paying attention to the outside world. I don’t even mean digging deep all the time – this blockade is present even if I’m going to grab coffee with someone. Have I said “Yeah that would be awesome!” to plans with people, or bailed at the last minute due to insane anxiety? Yup. And it stinks because I’m genuine and then I start to worry that people I care about might think I’m less genuine than they thought.

Tonight in the shower, despite loving the hot water and having an amazing playlist going, I was worrying and dwelling about not being able to truly let people in. I always find the positive in a situation, but this is just also a daily, hourly occurrence for me and many, many others. Though it is extremely hard to live with and manage, it’s not always this horrible monster. It just is what it is. And it is a part of me.

So basically, I’m really, really bad at letting people in. But I want to be good at it. Or at least able to do it. And sometimes writing helps, so here we are.

I’m so excited to have been accepted to an anxiety research program that involves group therapy. I’ve said for so long that I think I would really benefit from group therapy – if anyone wants to talk anxiety any time, holler at your girl!! As common as it seems to be these days, it’s rare to find someone who deals with it and talks about it.

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Let me tell you a story

I usually live an extremely busy life. I love it and I know it will never change. It’s part of my personality; who I am. I get restless quickly and keeping busy is fun to me. However, it’s only natural that every once in a while I need to take some time for myself and just be. I don’t usually realize how busy I am until someone points it out to me. I also don’t do it on purpose – I just love using all of my non-working time to do things that I love. This to me is living life to the fullest. But it’s not always so easy.

When I take time for myself it gives a chance for some weird emotions to surface. It’s also when I’m even more hard on myself than normal. I’m sitting here writing this in what feels like a super weird emotional state – almost ready to cry, a little inspired, angry at myself, laughing at myself, but also relaxed and a little anxious.
When I have “lazy” days, evenings, afternoons, or mornings, I get really anxious even if there are no apparent triggers. Aside from being a very energetic person, this is a huge reason why I stay busy – as much as I want to, I won’t pretend it isn’t. But it also makes sense, think about it: when you go through something traumatic like a break up, or death, advice that’s almost always given is to stay busy and it will help you get through. This is true. It works. But only temporarily. It only works until you need that few hours of chilling on the couch – and then your brain has the opportunity to go nuts!
I’m sure we all know by now that anxiety is a daily struggle for me. It’s part of who I am, and I accepted that a long, long time ago. But this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with or handle. Much of what makes me anxious is a mystery, but a major trigger for me is relationships. Because boys are dumb.

Ha! I wish that was why. The real reason is that I’m terrified. I’m terrified all the time about a lot of things. Like relationships – mainly with potential boyfriends, but also with friends and family members.

Let me tell you a story. About three years ago, I was talking with this guy online (from one of those many apps we all know of). We talked for a while and I avoided meeting up with him twice. My anxiety was so bad that when I even thought about meeting him I couldn’t eat, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I gave in on the third ask to go out, and my thoughts going into it were this: “This guy seems like someone I would like. He’s athletic, smart, seems potentially funny, and he’s cute too! I’m going to make myself go on this date with him so I can prove my anxiety wrong, and win.” I’m not sure trying to beat my anxiety like it was a game was such a great approach, but to this day I’m proud of myself for following through.

On the day of, we were to meet at a restaurant at 2pm and I was great with this time knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to eat, so I could say I already had lunch and wasn’t hungry. Already planning and worrying ahead. I stayed in bed all morning because my anxiety levels had shot through the roof. The date was fine, nothing amazing and nothing awful – and it turns out I wasn’t really attracted to him after all. However, mid-date he asked if I wanted to walk around… I said “Sure” – no emotion because moving sounded like an awful idea to me since I had JUST shaken my nausea. Not for long though! We proceeded onto the escalator and along came a huge wave of nausea. As if it were in slow motion I had this full vision in my head of me throwing up right on him, in front of tons of other people and being completely mortified. I stepped into the escalator, stepped off, and when he asked if I was ok, I stepped back on and said “yeah!”. We both (I’m sure) knew I wasn’t exactly ok. I immediately asked where the washroom was and beelined to it as soon as I stepped off the escalator.

Well, it was a good thing I didn’t have an appetite earlier because I threw up the contents of my stomach and then some, and came out pretending to be freshly powdered, if that’s a thing. To this day I have no idea if he thinks I was running away from him, if he knows I threw up, or if he thinks I took a poop.

I couldn’t handle any more of this and after another 10 minutes I (more bluntly than it sounded in my head) asked where he parked. And thus ended the first date I ever puked on.

Maybe you relate. Maybe you’ve been through this exact thing. Maybe you think this is hilarious.

I’ve told this story plenty of times before and every time without fail it comes out like I’m a comedian standing on stage telling a funny story to the crowd. That’s how I want it to sound. Might as well make it funny, right? I truly do believe that laughter is the best medicine, but this digs a little deeper than that. So this version is more matter-of-fact than funny.

I joke all the time that I’ll just be a crazy dog lady and travel the world whenever I can, and eventually build a life with adopted kids. In all truthfulness, this is the worst case scenario of my future that runs through my head to make myself feel better when I’m feeling down or off or out of sorts. It rolls off my tongue like a well-oiled joke when I say it out loud, but in reality I’ve thought this through and come up with the idea that this wouldn’t be such an awful life so I need to chill out and stop worrying that I’ll puke on every potential suitor. Easier said than done.

I share this because I was just sitting here thinking pretty negatively about myself and then the angel on my other shoulder chimed in and said “Hey! There’s NO WAY you’re the only one who is a) going through what you’re going through, and b) struggling in the same areas of life.” And I think the angel has a point here. So rather than sitting here dwelling on things that I wish I could be courageous enough to do, I choose to share my thoughts, feelings, and struggles with the hope that someone reading this will relate. And whether you relate with a grin and a nod as you exit this webpage, or whether you relate with a message to me, it is a relation nonetheless – and that is two thirds of ‘relationships’.

At the least, enjoy the things you may find easy or stress free. These are the things we take for granted and it may not be so easy for others.

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