4 Relatable 'Anxious Moments' That Might Make You Feel Less Alone
The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day, according to the first link that popped up in a Google search for, “How many thoughts does the average person have in a day?” Since I have no idea of the validity behind that statement, I’m going to do what most people do when they find a statistic online: accept it at face value and build an argument upon it. So, if the average person has 60,000 thoughts a day, then a person with anxiety has 180,000 thoughts per day. Probably. According to my research.
Now would be a perfect time to have a visual aid, you know, the whole, “This is your brain. Now, this is your brain on anxiety.” I picture the “regular” brain with a single thought bubble, “Oh, that’s the new girl in the office, I should say hello when I walk by her desk.” And the anxiety-riddled brain has 37 little thought bubbles coming out of it, “Oh, gosh, it’s the new girl, she doesn’t know I’m weird yet! I should talk to her. But then she’d definitely know I’m weird. I better not say anything and keep up the façade a little longer. Not like in a mean way. I hope she doesn’t think it’s weird that I’m not looking at her. I’m not trying to avoid her or anything, I just don’t know her that well. Maybe I should look at her. OK, I’m going to look at her and do one of those head nods all the kids are doing these days. Here I go. Oh my gosh, now I’m just staring at her and I can’t look away. I’m sweating quite a lot for someone who is trying to act casual. I better go hide in the bathroom now. Abandon ship! Man overboard!”
I didn’t know for a long time that the constant second-guessing, over-analyzing, worst case scenario thoughts were my anxiety kicking in. On good days, I assumed most people had a similar thought process but they were able to fake it better than I could. On bad days, I found a corner stall on a different floor in my office building and cried about being a freak. I still have good and bad days, but it helps to know it’s not because I’m a freak. It’s because of anxiety. You see, I’m actually hilarious and charming, and I always know what to say. My anxiety, on the other hand, is a loose cannon of awkward outbursts mixed with stunned silence. She’s always dragging us down. (Is it weird to talk about myself in the plural? We don’t think so).
Without further ado, I’ll give you a short list of a few things I thought about this morning. You can compare and contrast with your own morning routine and either find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone or feel better about yourself by comparison.
1. You woke up this morning, stood in front of your closet and could not for the life of you decide what to wear. This is not your typical, “I really need to update my wardrobe” kind of meltdown that happens every six months or so (or maybe that’s just me). No, this indecisiveness is a mental roadblock. It’s like you stand there, staring at your clothes, unable to make a choice. “If I wear the pink sweater I’ll have to find the lacy white undershirt and I think it might be in the laundry bin, but it’s probably not like “gross” dirty, I think I could probably wear it one more day, although I really need to get some laundry done, when is the last time I even did a load of laundry? Did I ever switch over that last load to the dryer from two days ago? Oh crap, it’s 7 and I’m still in my pajamas. I really need to decide what to wear. OK. What about the black blouse? I would need those grey slacks to go with it. I don’t think I can wear them today, it feels like a “fat pants” kind of day. Every day is a “fat pants” kind of day. Why do I own skinny jeans? I can never pull them off. I really need to work out more. Or just like, at all. OK. Focus. It’s 7:15. I guess I’ll just throw on what I wore last night around the house. And thus, you’re now at work wearing leggings and an old sweatshirt with an elk on the front. You are wearing an elk in the office. Literally, anything would have been a better choice. At least you had the foresight to pair it with a beanie. The ironic bum look is totally in right now.
2. You were sitting on the bus and several people walked by you, and none of them sat next to you and you wondered if you had a dried booger on your face. Or wondered if you were too fat to sit next to. Or worried about having obnoxious body odor, even though you know you just showered this morning. The real kicker though is when someone finally does sit next to you. From the previous stream of worries, one might think this would dissolve any doubts about hygiene and obesity. On the contrary, as it turns out, actually sitting next to someone on the bus is far worse than wondering why no one is sitting next to you. The rest of the bus ride will be spent trying to somehow merge your body with the side of the bus so as to take up as little space as possible and not accidentally graze the other passenger’s leg. In between trying to form a molecular bond with the bus window and avoiding eye contact at all costs, you’ll briefly wonder if you’re offending them by respecting their space too much. Maybe you’re giving them the same complex you had earlier about the body odor and booger face. So then, if you’re brave, you subtly look over at them to gauge how they’re feeling about the whole commute situation, and you happen to see they are watching a very intense episode of “Game of Thrones.” Or, at least you hope it’s “Game of Thrones,” because the alternative is much more disturbing.
3. You are walking down a hallway at work and see a coworker walking toward you and you say, “Hey,” but now you’re still walking toward one another and you already used your best line of small talk so now you’re not sure if you should keep staring at them or avoid eye contact. Suddenly you are very aware of your hands and you’re not sure where to put them, and then you think about what you normally do with your hands when you walk – do you cross them over your chest? That seems a bit passive-aggressive. Do you ball them up into fists? That seems aggressive-aggressive. Surely you don’t use them to wave, right? Why can’t you remember how to be a “normal” human with hands?
4. You know you need to make a doctors appointment but most days you would rather die a slow, painful death than talk on the phone, so it has taken three weeks to finally muster up the courage to look up the number of your doctor’s office. You type it into your phone and then set the phone on your desk and tell yourself you’ll do it in an hour. Three hours later you walk down to the lobby of the building and after taking several deep breaths, you hit the “call” button. The phone rings once. Your heart is pumping in your chest. The phone rings twice. You hear the blood rushing in your ears. “Hello, thanks for calling Evergreen Medical Center. For appointments, press one. Thank you. You will be directed to our patient coordinator.” The machine was the easy part; now you’re going to have to talk to an actual human. You rehearse what you’re going to say while you wait on hold. Hi, my name is Jessica Griggs, I’d like to make an appointment with Dr. Manuel. Hi, my name is Jessica Griggs, I’d like to make –
“This is patient services, who is your doctor?”
“Hi, Jess. Who is your doctor?”
“Oh. Dr. Serviano. No, Dr. Manuel. His first name is Serviano. But his last name is Manuel. Dr. Serviano Manuel.”
“Yes. OK. And you’d like to make an appointment? Can I get a reason for your visit?”
“I’d like to make an appointment with my doctor. Oh, you just said that. Sorry. Yes. An appointment. Is there anything available on Friday?”
“Let me check. Yes, 1 p.m. is open. What is the reason for your visit?:
“I need more pills.”
“I mean I need a refill of my medication. It’s for anxiety. I get anxious. As is shown by our conversation here. So I need a refill and he said I could make an appointment and he’d get me a refill so that’s why I’m making the appointment.”
“So, it’s a follow-up appointment.”
“Yup. That is a nice way to put it.”
“Ok, I have you down for 1 p.m. on Friday.”
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