I’m a bit of an anxious person. (No kidding.) But sometimes I feel a little weird, complaining about it. After all, I’ve seen some people who are truly anxious, to a near or actual crippling effect. There are things they actually can not do. My anxiety doesn’t quite keep me from doing things. But boy, it makes it hard.
(Rambly blog post, coming up.)
Rather than crippling, I think of my anxiety like a lingering injury. It comes on me like a swift kick in the shins, and when I wake up in the morning I still feel the ache, throbbing. It’s something I can deal with, but it’s enough that I think, “What if I just stay here in bed? What if I just stare at the ceiling, or watch a litany of old YouTube videos What if I just lie on the floor and stare at the dog?” This is when I have to force myself up, drag myself to the desk, and start pounding on the keyboard or scribbling in my notebook, or even stumble down to the kitchen to wipe off counters or start some laundry, anything that looks like work and progress, even though I feel like I’m limping and hobbling through the whole thing.
A lot of times there’s no particular trigger. I’ll wake up, open my eyes, and feel a weird ache or an itching all over my skin, and realize, “Ah. Yup. One of those days.” There are things that trigger it, too, like being asked to take a drive exceeding 10 minutes to an unfamiliar place. I usually can do it, though I’m in a cold sweat the whole way, and god forbid I take a wrong turn — then I think I’m just going to die, not crash or anything, just suddenly cease to live. Sometimes, though, I let the anxiety win. I decide that it’s too hard, that it hurts too much, and then I flake and ditch my plans (which usually involve friend) and go hide under my blankets so that guilt (another beautiful, heavy kind of anxiety) fills in all my crevices.
And that’s why I try not to let my anxiety win, because guilt is a much worse form of anxiety. Guilt I didn’t write, guilt I didn’t go see a friend, guilt that I couldn’t leave the house to buy milk or muster the energy to pull out the vacuum cleaner. The more I give in, the deeper the bruising gets. If I can peel myself off the couch, if I can move and work, I can work, which means I can start to ignore it, which means that for a little while I’ll be able to forget it, so that at least for a few days I can feel like a normal person.