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I'm Anxious, and I Have No Idea Why


Thursday: 11:30 p.m.

Class: introduction to psychology and sociology

I have no idea why I’m anxious right now.

I have no idea why my body is in high alert; why I’m currently anticipating danger; why my world is speeding up, everything is going faster and faster and I feel like I can’t hold on.

My whole body is shaking. First it was my legs, then my arms. I struggle to hold my pen. I feel trapped.

I can’t focus on my work. It’s something to do with psychology. Something about babies. Something to do with clowns. I really have no idea now. But I know not being able to focus is going to have major consequences.

What if I need this information? What if this is on a test? What if I get quizzed on this before I leave? What if….. what if….what if …

My stomach is hurting. It’s becoming tighter and tighter and I have no idea why. I don’t know why I feel extremely dizzy and faint. I don’t know why my heart is beating faster either. I can feel it beating a thousand times a minute; pounding dangerously out of my body. My breathing is becoming rapid; I can’t breathe.

I try breathing exercises . I know that if I focus on my breathing things will become a bit easier.

In. Hold. Out. In. Hold. Out.

Slowly.

In. Hold. Out. In. Hold. Out.

But nothing is improving. The world is still spinning.

I try fiddling. Wrapping my coil bracelet endlessly around my fingers. I have to keep my hands busy. I don’t want to start picking.

I try doodling — squares, triangles, patterns, ugly faces — everything and anything. Blue ink all over the edges of my worksheet. My teachers don’t need to know I’m an art student to know I’m a hopeless doodler.

My headphones in my ears. Josh Ramsay from the band Marianas’ Trench screaming in my ear. He normally sings me to a calm state, but not right now. Right now I’m the opposite of calm.

I try counting.

One… two… three… four… five… six… seven… eight… nine… 10.

And in Chinese.

Yī… er… sān… sì… wǔ… liu…. qī… bā… ji… shi.

Again. Slowly.

One… two… three… four… five… six… seven… eight… nine… 10.

And in Chinese, this time mentally imagining the characters that go with the numeral.

Yī… er… sān… sì… wǔ… liu…. qī… bā… ji… shi.

一, 二 , 三 , 四 , 五 , 六 , 七 , 八 , 九 , 十.

But it’s not working.

Why?

Why?

Why?

I have no idea why I’m anxious right now. I’m normally triggered by loud classrooms, but this classroom is quiet. Students sit engrossed in their laptops, typing away at their assignments. They are silent.

It’s unusual.

But I’m anxious. I’m scared. I’m terrified. I’m freaking out. And I have no idea why.

Why does this happen to me?

Follow this journey here.

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Getty image via AnastasiaRasstrigina