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The Anxious Voice in My Head That Won’t Stay Quiet

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Don’t you hate it when you begin to listen to that anxious voice in your head just a little bit too much? Just when I think I’ve done the right amount of work to make her shut up, she waits patiently, like a lion searching for the right prey. Then out of nowhere, she strikes. And it’s never the right time. It’s always the wrong time.

When I get stressed out, that little voice in my head is roaring. She is so loud that it’s hard to hear much else. And sometimes it’s just that, noise. But then she spins her little wheel of insecurities and says, “Let’s go after this one, shall we?” And I spend weeks, and sometimes even months, super focused on one little thing. It’s incredibly annoying.

Try as I might, it’s so hard to keep her quiet. She sits on her perch in my brain, pointing out things and whispering all sorts of bad things in my ear. And all those tools I’ve learned in therapy to keep her quiet, to keep her from freaking out; they are useless against her when it’s a stressful time. I struggle to sleep, spending most nights awake from whatever insecurity she’s targeted.

This time it’s loyalty. More specifically, my finance’s loyalty. I know logically I shouldn’t question whether or not this man loves me. He has stuck with me through some pretty hard times in my life. We’ve been through thick and thin together. We have two children together. I know he loves me. But that voice inside me delights in making me question that. She loves to make me wonder if he really loves me, or if he’s secretly looking for someone else. Someone without anxiety. Someone who “has their life together.” Someone who doesn’t have a mental illness.

I know I should tell him. I know I should mention that I’m feeling more anxious than normal. I know this is stress. I know how she enjoys making me more anxious. But I feel foolish and even silly for questioning his love and so I chicken out. I just stare at the ceiling with feelings of guilt and jealousy swirling in my chest.

I know this will pass. I know once the major stress is over, that voice will quiet down. But right now, she’s about as loud as my daughter is when she’s tired and hungry. And that’s pretty loud.

It’s times like these I have to do a few things to make her quiet.

First, I take a deep calming breath. In through my nose and out through my mouth. I close my eyes wherever I am, and for a brief moment, I have peace. I start my grounding exercises, reminding myself that I am here in this moment and not the one anxiety has created in my head. Next, I put some music on and distract myself. I try to avoid thinking about whatever is causing me to be anxious. I’ll pick up my daughter and act silly with her. I do anything to make her giggle. That sound snaps me out of whatever thought is in my head, giving me the chance to reset myself, even if it’s for a moment.

It seems like a stretch to think I’ll get rid of anxiety. I know she’s always going to be there, perched on her seat with her “wheel of things.” I know I can use my tools to tune her out. What she’s saying isn’t real — I know that. I know I’m loved. I know I matter. I just have to remind myself that she’s always wrong. Because my only other choice is to live in her haphazard world — and that’s not an option.

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Thinkstock photo via Sylverarts

Originally published: April 5, 2023
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