I’ve been dealing with a low key version of my typical generalized and social anxiety disorders all week, and didn’t realize it until the thing making me anxious was finally over.
But, because I’d not functioned at my usual capacity, now I have to deal with all the things I wasn’t getting done while I was anxious — and not realizing it. Which makes me slightly anxious all over again.
It goes like this…
Chronic headaches, restless nights, avoiding communication with everyone but a few people…
Wondering why it’s so difficult to get out of bed in the morning.
Feeling apathetic and lethargic as I work and blog…Every. Single. Day. It’s like moving through mud.
Forgetting basic things like the fact that I read Masturbation Monday posts EVERY Tuesday night. Seriously.
Feeling overwhelmed by small things I need to do, so I let them pile up.
Keeping open a dozen extra tabs in my browser so I remember to go back and do things I have no energy to do now.
Feeling panicked over all the damn open browser tabs.
It goes on like for a week and a half, possibly longer. I have good moments, like recording podcasts and even playing with a new sex toy. But once the high of those moments passes, I’m left with the mental gunk. Gunk I can’t identify and recognize and am so lethargic, I have no energy to figure out.
And then I make an appointment I’d avoided for weeks. Not a serious or major appointment. A wax. That’s it. Something I have done for years and enjoying having done. But this time it’s in a new place with new people. And my perfectionism (a huge part of my anxiety) thinks I’m supposed to get this decision right the first time. Find the “perfect” place, and if I “fail” at this monumental task, I suck, and I’ve wasted my time.
There are few things I hate more than wasted time and inefficiencies. So it’s easier to do nothing. Except, the appointment needs to be made because I’m unhappy if I don’t go. But I’m a nervous wreck about making the “wrong” decision. These thoughts cycle over and over again, a constant litany playing at the back of my brain while I try to do other things.
Until finally, I do it. In a moment of gumption, I click a few buttons and do the fucking thing and make an appointment. And it’s easy, and I wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I took two weeks to do something so simple.
But of course, after that, is the actual appointment. Helllooooooo, social anxiety.
Meeting new people. Hoping I don’t make a damn fool of myself. Wishing I didn’t have to do this.
I manage to override the terrified part of my brain because I REALLY WANT THIS APPOINTMENT which helps. It’s no guarantee of reducing anxiety, but it gets me moving.
I walk in, and it’s lovely. The people are personable. They don’t make unnecessary small talk. We laugh and joke. By the end of the appointment, I’ve made another appointment and been my sarcastic self. AND THEY LAUGHED. They got my humor. The vibe was good. The people are nice.
What the fuck was I so anxious about?
And that, I’ve found, is the lie of anxiety. Your mind spins out of control about a thing until you do it, and you realize the worry was made up, out of proportion with reality.
Is that always true? Nope. Sometimes you have a worst fear confirmed and then your anxious brain says, “Ah ha! See?!?!?! BE AFRAID OF EVERYTHING!!!!”
But let’s say you’re relieved that all your fears haven’t come true, and (as I do) feeling foolish for having been so worried in the first place. Here comes the real rub…facing everything that went undone or was shoved to the side during that moment in time.
I’m exhausted from lack of sleep and walk around with near-migraine level pain. (My pain tolerance is ridiculous for headaches, but I think that’s because I’ve had frequent headaches since childhood. And never understood this isn’t normal. I thought everyone’s head hurt all the time, and I was a big baby for complaining. So I rarely do.)
I’ve still got dozens of open browser tabs that represent tasks that really do need to be done.
My brain is full of all the things I couldn’t think about for the past week, things that now demand my attention.
Oh, and there are all my hopes, dreams, and plans flooding back in again.
It’s enough to make me feel anxious all over again. But the weight that’s lifted when the (needless) fear is gone is more powerful — this time.
I know why I’m in this current cycle of anxiety. Stress does it to me every time, and moving is one of the biggest stressors most of us face. Things are good, but my brain doesn’t realize that yet. It’s primed for fear and worry, for what if-ing until I can’t think straight.
I also haven’t used any of my tricks for keeping myself calm. No evening journalling. No warm showers. (Baths are out in this house as we only have a shower.) Not a lot of sex — my libido is barely coherent anyway.
But I’ve faced this anxious hurdle and crossed it. Maybe I’m close to being out of this cycle and having more good days than bad — there’s no way to know until I look back later. I hope that I learn something from this episode, that a voice of reason sneaks in the next time anxiety takes over.
“Hey! Remember that last thing you were scared of? It wasn’t as bad as you feared, and you felt great when it was over.”
But who knows because anxiety is such a damned liar.