Anxiety Laid Bare
There’s so much I want to explain and express about living under this bizzarre thing known as anxiety. When you hear the words anxiety it may make you think of the butterflies you get when you are about to do something new or perhaps the apprehension of a job interview or exam. The difference with these anxieties is usually they are temporary feelings that can be recoverable once the task in question is completed. But the anxiety I’m talking about is far from temporary and much more than butterflies – more like a flock of birds!!!
I suffer from bother anxiety and panic disorder both of which effect my everyday life even in and around home (which is one of my ‘safe’ places). Anxiety is not who I am it is what I have – I don’t want to be defined by it – I don’t want people to see me as someone who is so fragile that they can’t ask for my support and help but I also hugely appreciate care from people when my strength is failing me. I am not unhappy or moody I am happy but frustrated. I am not angry at the world or at people but I am angry with my situation and those it effects. anxiety is not simple worry it goes way beyond the simplicity of worry.
A Day in the life of the Anxious
3am – woken up struggling to breathe with the strangling feeling of panic – lay awake for 2 hours with a hoard of thoughts and a whirlwind of emotions; trying to grasp what thoughts are rational and which ones are out of this world ridiculous. Over think each one of the possible scenarios for every thought. Begin to panic about the ability to function in the morning because of this ridiculous sleep disturbance!
5am – after a time of prayer and re-focusing fall back into a restless sleep
7:30am – alarm wakes for the morning and head is pounding from exhaustion but another day begins
7:45am – get up and feel anxious about the ability to remain standing for the day
8am – panic that I may not be able to take the children to where they need to be – a wave of nausea, light headedness and breathlessness. Feelings of failure, disappointment and frustration!!
8:15am – contact someone for help – fear has taken hold – heartbroken that I can not be strong enough for my girls and that I rely on others to do such everyday tasks
8:45am – realise you’ve been holding your breath for the last 45mins and breathe a sigh of relief as children leave the house happy.
9am – crash on the sofa from exhaustion
9:15am – look around the house and feel rubbish about the state of the place and kick yourself for allowing fear to take hold of everything and stop you from being what you want to be
9:30am – be determined to get things done – rush around the house attempting to do EVERYTHING while you’re in good place.
10:30am – realise that was a bad idea because now you can’t do anything else so sit down but worry that if you don’t do enough physical activity then it will have a bad affect on sleep!!
10:45am – attempt to do some work from home – but trying to comprehend things has become almost impossible – begin to panic that you can’t manage work (which you love) and will therefore let down MANY people and cause the family to struggle financially!!
11:30am – text message from friends suggesting a meet up – panic melt down – what should i say? Do I have enough strength? Will I pass out?? Will I end up having panic attack while I’m there? But I want to go and be part of my friends social gatherings – I don’t want to be left out or left alone!! At the essence of the panic is – what is the right decision???
12pm – whoops I’ve only drank one glass of fluid – that’s not gonna jelp; it’s gonna make me feel worse and then I’m going to really struggle to do everything and it will be my fault! Get up and get a drink!!!
1pm – have lunch and feel really tired a sleepy – no strength and begin to panic that I won’t have the strength to collect the children; should I sleep should I not?? If I sleep now I may oversleep or struggle to sleep tonight!!
2pm – I haven’t slept but I feel worse!!! I desperately want to go and collect my children so I will!!!
3pm – totally freaking out – panic is back – breathing is impossible to control; focussing on it brings on hyperventilation! Legs feel weak and my stomach is so full of writhing butterflies that I’m not sure I can keep my insides in!! My whole body flushed hot but I don’t want it to beat me!! Boots on – arghhhhhh it’s getting closer. Coat on – there’s no way out now… Don’t forget keys – being stuck out of the house would be a complete nightmare; where would I go!!!
3:15pm – here we go “you can do this!!!” Legs shaking the whole way down feeling of weakness all over; teeth gritted together tightly trying to stop all the physical feelings to go away. Fists clenched. Eyes struggling to focus on anything.
3:20pm – children still haven’t come out yet – arghhhhhh I need them to come out now, I need to get home. Thoughts seem like vapours with nothing tangible. People I know are near by but I haven’t got the cohesion to put sentences together – I can’t have a conversation. They might think I’m rude or dislike them but that’s not true I desperately want them to know that that is not true. I am being rude, I am rude but I just can’t say anything other than hello…
3:23pm – those 3 minutes felt like an hour but the eldest child is out; thank goodness – she’s happy and healthy!!! Now time to collect the youngest!
3:25pm – don’t pass out, don’t pass out, don’t pass out!!! Go in, collect your daughter, smile politely, say thank you and leave! Oh no I can’t get her to come and leave; she won’t put her coat on and leave…. I just need to leave!! Stay patient!!!
3:30pm – I made it we can go home!!! “Mummy can we go to the park??” No not today I don’t feel well enough – have to watch the disappointment on my children’s faces as I’ve let them down again!!!
3:40pm – we are home!! Aaaaaaaaand relax! The end of the day is nearly here!!!
4pm – girls jumping off the sofa and climbing around – I really really don’t want to have to take them to a&e or doctors!! The likelihood of me passing out there is almost certain – which would cause me to be abandoning my children and getting in the way of the medical staff trying to care for actual people who need them!!! “STOP jumping!!!!!” – receive the looks from the girls of mummy is always spoiling our fun!!!
4:30pm – screen time begins for the children. Relaxed for the first time in the day but feel bad that I’m letting the girls use screens to give me a moment of peace – I should be spending precious time with them…. I’m getting it all wrong!!
5pm – need to start cooking the dinner – missing an ingredient!! Arghhhhhh can’t go to the shops especially not with the girls on my own – it’s too much; I don’t have the strength!! Chicken nuggets and chips again – such a poor mother; I’m not caring for my family properly!!!
5:40pm – Husband home!! Hooray I have support and someone who may be able to help me out.
6:30pm – Rubbish the girls haven’t had a bath – if people know they may think I’m neglecting them – I’m not caring for them properly and people may take them away from me!!
7pm – youngest in bed!!!
8pm – eldest in bed
9pm – beginning to feel anxious about sleep. I must relax, I must relax otherwise I won’t get a full night’s sleep and if I don’t get a full night’s sleep I will be even more exhausted and find it even harder tomorrow!!
10pm – I must get to sleep, I must get to sleep…
10:30pm – asleep!!!
3am – awake again remembering everything I had forgotten yesterday and everything I haven’t done and what needs to be done and if I don’t do it I let everyone down !! It all rests on my shoulders….. Here we go again: struggling to breathe with the strangling feeling of panic – lay awake for 2 hours with a hoard of thoughts and a whirlwind of emotions; trying to grasp what thoughts are rational and which ones are out of this world ridiculous. Over think each one of the possible scenarios for every thought. Begin to panic about the ability to function in the morning because of this ridiculous sleep disturbance!
This whole anxiety thing is a 24 hour experience – there’s rarely a break or an anxious free moment! Some anxiety is more manageable and bearable than others but if you meet me in the street or out and about the chances are that I’m anxious about something!! Anxiety maybe something psychological but it has a huge impact on the physical body and life overall. For me anxiety is so infuriating but also so hard to control and rationalise. To simply put it anxiety may make no sense to you (most of the time it doesn’t make sense to the person suffering with it!) But it’s real and all consuming. It’s not an over reaction or drama queen response like it may seem – it’s a spiralling of thoughts, scenarios, and possible outcomes. It causes your brain to feel as though it may explode and leaves you suffering with feelings of disappointment, anger and shame and guilt!!
All these things are not what God wants us to be experiencing; it’s not in his plan for our lives at all but that doesn’t mean we won’t experience it!! It won’t mean that He will stop it instantly – sometimes it is an opportunity to grow and an opportunity to discover new paths and directions in our journey. So far my journey of anxiety has had its highs and it’s lows!! I found that I have some amazing friends and loving support which I’m not sure I would have truly found without this journey. I have discovered much about myself and I know there is so much more to discover. Friendships have deepened and as tough as this all is I’m ever grateful for the opportunity to deepen my friendships and myself as a person.