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The Tug-of-War Anxiety Creates in My Mind

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“You’re fine… Why are you crying?”

This is a thought that passes through my mind almost daily.

Living with anxiety is extremely exhausting. At times all I want to do is sleep — maybe even sometimes just lay there alone with my thoughts, creating a whirlwind inside my head. Other times I simply cannot be alone, alone with that overwhelming whirlwind I let my brain create. However, not being alone can be twice as terrifying. “Do they sense my neediness? Am I smothering them? Am I irritating?” That is just the beginning. Before I know it I have second-guessed every friendship, every relationship and convinced myself nobody likes me. I create a huge web in my mind of negative thoughts and near-impossible scenarios — a thousand different what-ifs. Simultaneously, I can hear my own voice of reason telling me I’m being absurd, I’m overreacting, I’m fine. It never stops. Some days it isn’t quite as loud as others. It is nothing short of exhausting. An episode like this can last but 20 minutes. Other times it can be days, even weeks long.

The slightest thing can trigger it — a colleague could say something I deem slightly out-of-the-ordinary, and it is the hardest challenge in the world not to take it personally. The lump in my throat, the hole in my stomach — before I know it I’m hysterical and I’m angry at myself for being unreasonable, and I feel pathetic. Other times I am ratty, on edge and fragile. I snap at people for the most trivial things but almost instantly am drowning in guilt. I say, “I’m sorry” until it sounds weird to say, but that guilt doesn’t dissolve. More often than not the reciprocate is confused as to what I mean. “What are you sorry for?” “Don’t be silly.” And silly is exactly how I feel. All I continuously crave is reassurance and for someone to hug me and let me know everything is going to be OK.

It is both a blessing and a curse to feel things so deeply. If people feel able to acknowledge and talk about the reality of anxiety, then we can all be educated and be there for one another. Mental support is so important for everyone. After all, we are all human, and we are all afraid of something.

Getty image by solarseven.

Originally published: February 8, 2019
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