Anxiety is a lot like love. Everyone experiences it differently and you can feel it just on the surface or in an all consuming way or as a steady foundation of your life. Anxiety, just like love, does not have an on/off switch. It can’t be solved by just chilling out. That’s not how this works.
Anxiety is like writing a list of everything you need to do on a piece of notebook paper. And then it gets crinkled. But you tell yourself it’s fine, you’ll just smooth it out. But that makes it worse. And then you’re frustrated. Your list is crinkled. You ball it up and throw it away. Now you don’t have a list. Shit. So you take it out of the trash and you smooth it and smooth it but no matter how you smooth it it’s never going to be perfect so you keep smoothing it. It’s critical that this paper be smooth. It’s very important. These crinkles are ruining your list. As soon as you smooth it out, it’ll be fine and you can start actually doing what’s on your list.
Next thing you know, you’ve spent two hours trying to smooth out a piece of notebook paper with five things written on it and you cry when you realize you could’ve just copied it onto a fresh, perfectly smooth piece of paper and gotten on with your life.
Anxiety is the need to control as much as possible in your life while simultaneously knowing there’s very little you can control while also fighting over control of your brain from itself because you’d really like to just tell it to shut the eff up when you need to.
And then getting in a fight with your boyfriend because if you can’t control yourself you can at least dictate his every life decision except it turns out he’s a human being and doesn’t really like being ruled by your control freak tendencies and random crying triggers.
So then you decide the less you talk to anybody the better it will be because then there will be less to stress about. Right? Wrong. Rinse and repeat as your weird physiological triggers dictate.
Anxiety, at its worst, is this burning sensation that happens right behind your sternum. It’s like heartburn but it seems to spread like a weird acid layer over everything inside you.
All you can think about is how there’s nothing you can do to scrub out that burning feeling. You try and control everything. That’s impossible. Your stomach rolls.
You make some lists to make sure you aren’t missing anything, but you always do. Your chest tightens.
You cancel plans so that you can concentrate on getting your life together, but all you can think about is if you’ve upset someone by doing that. The acid spreads and your lungs contract.
Your mind spins. It’s obsessed with how much you can’t control and how badly you’re doing at controlling what’s in front of you. Your stomach rolls and your chest tightens and your lungs contract and the acid seems to eat your body from stomach to heart to head. And you break.
You breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
And then you start all over. You tell yourself it’ll get better. It will.