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The Exhausting Morning Routine of Someone With Anxiety

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How long does it take you to leave the house in the morning? An hour? Two? Try three hours. Three long hours.

I am the girl who wakes every morning after a sleep addled with nightmares and a constant sense of panic. I wake most mornings fists clenched and panting, like I’ve run a marathon in my sleep. After convincing myself nothing bad happened while I slept, I inevitably burst into tears as I go through every scenario possible in my head. What if, what if, what if. It’s probably an hour later as I force myself to get out of bed.

I am the woman who then flips into robot mode. I make packed lunches and find mislaid shoes. I bustle. I keep myself busy. I fuss like the mother hen. Then the kids leave for school and I sink into the sofa. I flick through Facebook , to Instagram, to Twitter, to Tumblr, back to Facebook. I shut the apps down. Make a drink. Reopen the apps. I fidget. Sometimes I sit on the sofa, unable to move until I have to. My brain tells me I have to shower, I have to get dressed and I have to get moving. But I don’t. I sit there and I flick through apps. I browse through TV channels at the same time. Head constantly working. I time check. I work out exactly how long I have until I have to move.

Then as I relax, I may pick up a book. Or if it’s a good day, I’ll tidy around my messy house. I get engrossed in what I do. Then, panic. The time I’ve set myself to get ready has expired. In my eyes, even though I’m technically early, I’m late. My heart begins to race, my palms get sweaty, sometimes I shake. Other times I get the “creeps” where my nerve endings seem to explode under the skin and I could scratch my skin raw. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. But I do. I throw on clothes, rush to shower, worry I’m going to be late and I’ll let work down even though I’ve never been late in eight years and I’m usually at least 15 minutes early. Being late makes me anxious.

Leaving the house can be an ordeal. I check my bag at least three times for my keys, my phone, my headphones. I can’t leave the house unless I have my headphones. I’ll check my appearance about 10 times in the mirror even though I dislike what I see and it gets worse with every viewing. I recheck my bag one final time and then I walk outside.

Walking without headphones scares me. I don’t want to talk unless it’s someone I know, in which case I will politely remove one earphone, all the while gripping the phone in my pocket. I hurry to work, head down with music volume as high as it can go until I reach the safety of my workplace. The whole walk I pass strangers and hope they won’t talk about me after I’ve passed by or make fun of me or make a derogatory comment.

I’m exhausted and my day has only just begun.

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: February 2, 2017
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