When the 'Anxiety Dam' Breaks


It’s early on a warm Sunday morning, and I am awoken suddenly by my feet, which are already shaking and moving about restlessly beneath the covers. A sign that my anxiety is already in full swing despite the fact I’m not even awake yet.

There are roughly 30 seconds each morning between the moment I open my eyes and when the “anxiety dam” breaks — flooding my brain with everything I “should” be concerned with and worried about. Those 30 seconds each morning are my only peace these days, and I cherish them. This is my life — the life of someone with extreme anxiety.

As I sit up and ready myself to face the day, I have to remind myself to breathe in and out… in and out… otherwise I find myself holding my breath. I wonder what it may be like to wake up each day and breathe easily without effort. I try to remember the last time I was able, and I cannot. I assure myself, as I do every day, that the feelings of dread, the rapid beating of my heart, the tightness constricting my throat, is simply my anxiety already creeping up and settling in. It has made itself at home in my skin. Taken up residence in the deep crevices of my mind and thoughts. An unwelcome guest. It stays close to me at all times, like a parasite. Making its presence known as much as possible throughout the day. Trying to ruin each day in whatever ways it is able.

Anxiety is a bad relationship we would all like to break up with. But it’s here to stay for now, with its arm around my shoulders, around my neck. Sitting too close. Suffocatingly close. Breathe in… breathe out…

For so many of us who have extreme anxiety, each day is an exhausting struggle to make it to the finish line that is the end of each day. Only to find that despite our exhaustion, once we make it there and fall into bed, our racing minds won’t allow sleep in any reasonable amount of time. Nighttime proves to be the worst for my anxiety, so each night I pray for daylight to come quickly. Because maybe tomorrow I may have 60 seconds of peace when I wake up. Because maybe tomorrow is the day I will have a day with no panic attacks. Because, after all, the night is darkest just before the dawn… and my feet are already shaking me awake.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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