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The 'Weird' Thing That Brings Me Solace When Anxiety Takes Over

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For me, the anxiety is like a blanket. It comes and drowns me in thoughts, twitches and repetitive actions that just don’t stop. Even hours later, the effects can be seen.

My friends often can’t tell. It’s not because they don’t notice. It’s because I’m good at hiding it: Can’t sit still? Oh, I’m just stretching my legs at work. Tapping my pens? I’m just keeping the beat of the music I’m listening to on my headphones. Always an explanation.

Those of us with high-functioning anxiety can be very good at explanations. We may try to use them to settle our own anxiety at the same we use them to keep friends and family from noticing.

I hear the thoughts coming and suddenly feel frozen. They take over and run rampant. So I try and ignore them. Then I try to focus on something else. When I can’t succeed at either, I’ve begun to find solace in “white noise.”

White noise has been documented to help insomniacs in reaching and staying in a sleep state. Waterfalls, forest sounds, etc. can give a person something other than thoughts or anxieties from a day to focus on.

My white noise is nothing like that. Crickets chirping? Here comes the anxiety: Where is it? Find it now! It will just keep chirping all night!

No, I have my classic rock.

Weird, yes. Something designed to “move” the body and mind helps settle me. Odd, perhaps. Anxiety comes knocking; throw on some AC/DC. Turn up the volume. I don’t drown. The thoughts, twitches and repetitive actions do.

I know that part of the reaction I have to my version of white noise is that I got my love of classic rock from my father. He is a man who always seems cool under pressure. No anxiety to be seen no matter the situation. Driving in blizzard conditions at night? Turn on some Pink Floyd and sing along.

My association to white noise might be different from what most people understand. It’s supposed to be calming. Mine is everything but. It works for me. By overpowering the anxiety, I can overcome it. I can move beyond it, even if it will come back. I am not controlled by it.

In my family, the anxiety is well-earned. All four of us struggle with some form of it. My anxiety stems mostly from obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’ve found what works for me. It doesn’t mean it will work for others, but it helps me keep my anxiety at a manageable level. It allows me to live the life I mean to have.

Anxiety can be a daily battle. Something goes wrong in a day’s plan, and I break out my music. I sing along. I head-bang. When I connect to the music, my white noise, I can finally focus. I can see what is freezing me is not going to stop me. I will succeed.

No waterfalls included. No crickets involved. Good, I’m not a fan of bugs anyway.

Originally published: September 19, 2016
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