Anxiety Girl

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Anxiety Girl(image owned/created by the awesome Natalie Dee circa 2009. Not my work nor my property.)
I’ve danced with anxiety all of my life.
The first time I recall having a panic attack I was 5 years old. My thoughts raced, my heart pounded, I couldn’t breathe very well. I hid in my closet, trying to hide from what I feared, not realizing the fear came from within myself. When I was 23 I was getting dressed one day and my fingers and lips started to tingle and my heart pounded and all I could think was “I’m dying. I’m dying. Oh God, I’m dying.”‘ I was convinced of it. I couldn’t tell myself WHAT was killing me, just that the impending doom was so tangible and real I could taste it.
Anxiety shapes my daily decisions. Every single time I face having to go grocery shopping I make an official announcement at some point that “I’m not going.” even if we are totally out of food and my family will starve if I DON’T go. I will still freak out in myself, probably throw something, and in a panic say “I’m just not going.” every time. It comes across as anger but it’s not anger. It’s fear. If you don’t battle with anxiety on a daily basis, you cannot even begin to fathom how seemingly simple every day tasks can create such turmoil and havoc within a soul. How much inner pep talk goes into just stepping outside of a home. How many cigarettes or pills or tokes on a joint are needed by some folks just to face public places. How long it takes to prepare to go anyplace. How scary talking on a phone can be. How a knock on the front door can make your stomache dip. How a birthday party invite can frazzle you to your core.
I go to walMart, sunglasses on my face because a friend with social anxieties of her own has told me it helps her.And it does. It dims the obnoxious bright lights that tend to elevate my panic. It makes me feel more secluded from the world around me. But then I start to become super aware of the fact I am walking around at night with sunglasses on and maybe that makes me look suspicious and maybe the people I am walking past are thinking I am weird and maybe they will ask me why I am wearing them and maybe I just said “excuse me” too loud to the lady in my way in the aisle, it sounds really loud and stupid in my own ears but she doesn’t even move so maybe I didn’t say it loud enough or maybe I didn’t say it at all and now I look crazy and awkward and weird standing still behind her not saying a thing and have I been standing here behind her for 3 seconds or has it been ages and ages of awkwardness because it FEELS like ages and ages and finally I say it again this time she moves and I flash her a totally uncomfortable fake smile and say “thank you” in a barely imperticible voice because I know society standards of manners and protocol require it and it takes 2 more aisles before the shaking stops in my hands. And THAT is why I hate shopping. This sort of thing happens every time. EVERY. TIME. I don’t believe in prescription drugs so I carry lavender oil and Rescue Remedy with me. I smoke. I do breathing techniques. I chant mantras in my head.
Meeting new people…….I imagine they are judging every small detail. The way my hair is. The clothes I am wearing. The inflection to my words. I am a tiny creature under a microscope. Their eyes burn through me. I need something to keep my hands busy. I keep my children close, start conversations with them instead so I am too busy to be approachable to others. I chew on the flesh of my fingers until it bleeds. I am too aware of my hands. what do i do with them when they are empty? Put them in my pockets? Clasp them together? Am I moving them too much? Not enough? Do I appear as awkward and stiff as I feel? Am I sweating? Are my eyes too wide? How can they NOT notice my panic when it encapsulates me so??????
I met my Man online. it was easy to talk to him. On line. the first time I called him to talk I was pretty sure I was rambling too much. Being too loud. I had to keep gasping for breath. I kept forgetting to breathe at the pauses. I was certain he would never want to talk to me again. I talked while pacing in speedy nervous circles around my yard. I probably looked like I was on meth or something. All jerky and sped up. Then again, that might all have been just sped up in my own brain. That’s anxiety.
I’m a breeze online. I run a FB page with nearly 2,000 followers. I am witty. Assured. Cool. No problem. But in person? In person I am reserved. People think I’m rude. I don’t like to make eye contact. It feels too intense. I’ve been called a bitch. People mistake my social anxiety for rudeness. It is a billion times harder to make friends in real life than online. I prefer online interaction.
I overthink. I obsess. I worry. I think about scenarios that are preposterous but I rationalize that at least I will be prepared. For anything. For everything. And still I am convinced that too much is out of my control and horrible things will happen. Daily. My anxiety triggers my OCD and I spend hours organizing the movies or the pantry shelves, bring order to some sliver of chaos to soothe the beast of anxiety that tugs at my brain.
I expect every day my man will tell me he doesn’t want me anymore. I imagine every day that one of my children will be killed or kidnapped. The house will burn down. Lucy will stop breathing in her sleep. It’s cancer.The dog will get out of the yard and get hit by a car. I’ll die. I worry about all of these things every single day.
This is what it’s like.
This is anxiety.
Anxiety is a real bitch.

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3 responses »

  1. Thank you SO SO much for this! It is so relieving to see your words written down as I have tried tirelessly to describe to others. Why just tonight I backed out of shopping with my husband because I was terrified (again) of going. It is so painfully real, and it is so easy to feel like you’re the only one who experiences this. Thank you for being real. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone…..anxiety can kiss my ass.

  2. Hi—I appreciate your sincere and honest post, and as someone who has also had problems with anxiety, I related to a lot of what you said. Just maybe don’t blatantly rip off Natalie Dee with your graphic—she is an awesome comic designer from Ohio who’s been around for years, and this is obviously copied directly from one of her most well known comics (which was published online in 2008). Sorry—I’m just not down with violating copyright-protected images…

    • I never claimed it as my own. Found it on google and thought it was cute. I don’t now all about the laws of sharing pics online I always thought pics etc were public property once on the internet. Heck, I’ve seen my personal photos all over the place online shared by god knows who. My bad. I’ll edit right now and give credit where credit is due. 🙂 Thank you!

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