When Anxiety Makes You Feel Like You Are Floating

I’m floating. Well, kind of. I’m full of hot air but haven’t had my weights removed. I’m a shiny new birthday balloon secured to a small child’s hand, waving in the wind, trying to pry little fingers loose. I’m a scuba diver who cannot move her legs because her dive belt is just a little too heavy, and as I struggle to stay afloat, a pressure keeps pulling me deeper and deeper until I cannot fight it any longer.

I sink.

I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I’m the kind they medicate. The kind that couldn’t help herself. I’m a prideful person. I’m an academic, was top of my class, constantly trying to solve the next big problem that dares look me in the face. But I couldn’t solve this one alone. Giving up my pride and getting help was one of the hardest decisions I ever made.

The doctors call it disassociation; I call it floating. They say my mind is working so hard that my body cannot keep up, and so I feel like I’m looking down at myself from above when in truth, I am locked away in this body that doesn’t respond the way it is supposed to. Some nights, I can think about all the things that need to be done, make a list, determine priorities and then I cannot even force my legs to step up and get out of bed.

It’s even worse when my mouth catches up. My boyfriend claims that when I float, it is like my soul has left my eyes and there is nothing left. “You’re with me,” he says, “but you aren’t with me.” Then, as I come back, I’ll scream and shout and cry. I’ll fight so hard against this lingering shadow that I am no longer myself. I’ll forget who I am in favor of someone who is strong enough to beat this thing. He says it’s scary; he has no idea.

When people think of anxiety, they think of worrying. They think of racing thoughts and triple checking locks. But the part that scares me the most is typically interpreted as “rude” or “having an off night” or “being deep in thought.”

I wish more people understood that I would love to be there with them. I would love to truly be with them. And I’m trying.

Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash

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