Confessions of an Anxious Brain (part 2)

Anxiety is weird.

Anxiety makes me stress about everything. My least favorite sentence is “Just, calm down.”  My thoughts are literally, “I’d freaking love to ‘just calm down’ or to ‘just not worry about it.’  People tell me a lot to not worry about what I can’t control. For me, that’s like telling me to stop breathing. I know I can’t control the things I worry about. Honestly, the irrationality of anxiety makes it so much harder to bear.

The truth is, I can’t calm down. I have no control. And that is absolutely terrifying. I can’t count the number of times I’ve just dealt with a full-blown panic attack and just not said anything to anyone because my brain tells me, They don’t care. You’re being annoying. Don’t worry people. It’s not that bad.

Honestly, it is that bad.

So many people ask me why I don’t join the adult choir at my church. Do you want to know the truth? I deal with anxiety attacks basically every Sunday. I’m sick and tired of having to deal with it. I’m just done with standing in the choir loft feeling extremely nauseous or like I’m going to faint or both. I’m tired of waking up anxious and not being able to eat.

People find it weird when I pull food out of my purse randomly and start eating. The truth is that I probably didn’t really eat breakfast and I’m finally feeling normal for the first time that day. I take advantage of the normal moments by eating because I never know when the anxiety will get bad again.

I hate uncertainty.

I hate not knowing something. That will trigger me every time. I reach out to people a lot because I love knowing how they’re doing. I’m scared they’ll go through a rough patch and I won’t be there for them. My brain tells me I’m the only thing that can keep this person from getting worse. I know I’m not and I know they have other people in their life. But I can’t stop the thoughts.

I’ve had several occasions where I’ve worried about someone so much that it triggered me. I hate that. I love having friends and I love being there for them. And I don’t care how much it triggers me. I’m not going to abandon them. But, I’m scared my friends will stop telling me stuff because it triggers me sometimes.

I don’t want anyone to ever worry about triggering me. There are so many things that trigger me. There are multiple things that play a role in each episode. It’s rarely just one thing.

I’m tired of going up to 8 hours without eating because I value my friendships and being with friends over feeling normal. I’m tired because I can’t drink much coffee because the added caffeine just intensifies my symptoms.

So many people ask me why I won’t get a normal job. I just ignore the question or step around it. Because honestly, I don’t think I can handle a normal job. I can’t handle people. I can’t deal with food because my biggest symptom is nausea. I avoid this question because I can’t explain this to people. If you want to know more about my symptoms and the beginning of my journey through anxiety, check out Confessions of an Anxious Brain to see more details.

I’m so introverted from anxiety. I used to love being in public or just with people. I used to love actually talking to people. Now I love being alone because I get trapped in my head around people. I’m an outgoing person who only really talks to like 5 people. Most people don’t know me. I like being alone because that’s the only time I’m not trapped in my head.

Anxiety gives me an attack when someone doesn’t read a text or just doesn’t reply or says something really short to my paragraph. I hate it. I’m sick and tired of it. I hate that I can’t stare at the little vibrating dots that say someone is typing without getting anxious. Whenever I’m texting someone and they don’t reply for like 10 minutes I start worrying that they found someone more interesting to talk to. I worry that I’m being annoying. I worry that I’m boring.

I worry about everything. I bet there isn’t something I haven’t worried about.

I hate that I can’t control myself. I hide it all behind a smile or just a simple ‘I’m tired.’ When in reality I’m freaking out, my brain is everywhere, I’m holding my body from shaking, my pulse is sky-rocketing, I’m nauseous, I’m physically exhausted. But you’d never know.

I’m getting so good at hiding it that it scares me. I remember one Sunday I was having a massive anxiety attack about going to a nursing home with my choir. (Yes, this is why I didn’t go. I wasn’t actually sick. My body just decided to over think and freak out and I decided I didn’t want to deal with it that day. So, I went home. I’m sorry I couldn’t help the choir.) Well, why is this relevant? Well, I was miserable, but I walked past one of the pastors at my church and he said, ‘Wow, your smile is so happy.’ And I about died inside, because my brain was like if you only knew what is actually going through me right now. You wouldn’t say that.

I want everyone to know that I have no choice in this.

My only real ‘choice’ is ‘Am I going to sit in bed today because I’m done fighting?’ or ‘Am I going to just suck it up and pretend I’m a normal person while fighting a war in my head?’ Most days I just suck it up. Some days I suck it up and fight, but then I realize I’m losing too much and run away. A lot of days I’m a deserter.

I had a friend who didn’t understand my non-thinking. When I have a stressor coming I just don’t think about it. Thinking about it puts me into this cycle: I think, then I get anxious, then I get completely stuck in my head, then I get more anxious, then I get numb and stop thinking. And that cycle repeats every time. Sometimes the before anxiety is worse than the anxiety when the stressor comes. Sometimes its way worse.

Anxiety makes me freak out if someone doesn’t text me for a few days. My brain thinks I’m annoying them and they’re leaving me. I know deep down that they aren’t going anywhere but I can’t help the thoughts.

Anxiety makes me regret leaving the house most of the time. I never use it as an excuse. The only times I ever say I don’t want to do something that I was all excited about before is because I’m having an anxiety attack and I just don’t want to deal with it around people.

Anxiety makes me cry for 5 hours about going to Disney. (Yes, this actually happened. I didn’t end up going because I just couldn’t stop. I honestly still don’t know why I was crying.)

Anxiety gives me a 2-day panic attack about going on a missions trip that I’ve been on before. No one knows this. The reason I skipped out on going on a missions trip last year was because I had so many back to back panic attacks for 2 days that I just couldn’t even handle the thought of going. Anxiety is the reason I didn’t go this year. I didn’t realize that this is what was wrong with me back then. Because it was before I learned about anxiety. That made it harder. I knew my body was freaking out and something was wrong. But I didn’t know what.

I come up with so many excuses for it that it’s almost funny. My most common one is that “I’m tired.”  Which isn’t exactly just an excuse sometimes. Being in ‘fight or flight mode’ constantly and having attacks exhausts me. Now that I think about it, most of my excuses are reality. “I don’t feel good.” “My stomach hurts.” “I’m dizzy.” These are all because of attacks.

Anxiety makes me practically starve sometimes. This is the real reason I don’t like going places for a long time. I just can’t eat and that’s bad. I don’t have an eating disorder. I eat pretty well most of the time at home. But, I just can’t eat most of the time around people. I feel as though everyone is watching me. My brain thinks everyone is judging me for what I’m eating, how much, and how quickly. I stress that someone is going to notice I’m not eating and ask me about it. I stress about coming up with a reason. I hate this. I know deep down it’s not true and no one probably really cares. But I can’t stop the thoughts.

For me, stress is my life.

My body doesn’t handle any kind of stress. I close up. I lose my ability to think sometimes. I stop talking. I just want to be alone.

Anxiety is not stage fright. I hate it when people say, ‘Everyone gets nervous, just deal with it.’  You know what? I don’t get ‘nervous’ I get anxiety attacks. No one knows how many I go through. Because my brain tells me it will annoy them and that they really don’t care, so I don’t say anything most of the time. I know this isn’t true for a lot of people but I can’t get the thought out of my head.

People say stuff like, ‘Just don’t think about it.’ I wish it was that easy. People make fun of the fact that I play games on my phone or read a book in public. You know what? That’s my way of not thinking about it. I have to completely get my brain on something else. Most of the time this doesn’t work very well. But it’s all I have and it’s better than nothing. My phone is my crutch. I can’t go places without it. It’s like a security blanket.

I’ve dealt with anxiety for so long that I forget what it’s like to not have it. I walk around panicking and thinking ‘This is perfectly fine. It will pass.’ I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go to something as simple as eating at a restaurant and not having an anxiety attack. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go to someone’s house and not being nauseous. I walk around ignoring everyone because I’m so terrified that they’ll ask something. I can’t explain it. Writing is my voice.

I’ve dealt with it for so long that when I’m out somewhere and I’m not having it. I get confused and start stressing about it. I worry about why I’m having a good day. I have an odd talent of the ability to think myself into an anxiety attack. I just have to think about certain events or things happening in the future. And *bam* my thoughts start stressing my body out. Check out What is a Good Day with Anxiety? to see what this is like.

Anxiety means I have uncontrollable outbursts of irritability. If I’m stressed I lash out. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I bottle it up to the best of my ability. But, when I’m stressed my bottle is tiny. If I ever lash out at you it’s probably because I’m stressed and I just can’t control it. Please know that it’s not actually me lashing out. It’s my anxiety.

Having anxiety is weird because I apologize for everything about it. I’m sorry I can’t focus. I’m sorry I zone out during conversations. I’m sorry my brain goes completely blank. I’m sorry I can’t talk about it audibly. I’m sorry I never go out and see people. I’m sorry I’m a hermit. I’m sorry I say sorry so much.

I want to know something, when did my biggest fear become my mind? My mind is my prison and I can’t escape. I’m trapped. I’m scared of everything. I’m quiet because I’m trapped. If I’m talking be thankful, I’ve escaped temporarily. I live for those moments. I hate my prison. But I can’t get out.

Probably the weirdest thing about having anxiety is the fact that I’m a walking contradiction. My biggest goal is to overcome it. But I’m terrified of what my life will be like without it. It’s like my abusive friend. It’s always there. But my abusive friend is my mind. I’m scared of what I’ll be like if it ever left. I want out. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose my friend. It’s always been there for me. I’m so hyper-aware of it.

Anxiety makes me numb.

What’s hard is when I’m numb, I’m irritable and just don’t want to do anything. I want to just stare at a wall and be stuck in my head. It’s like being in a cage but the door is open. I can leave if I want to. But I just don’t want to. I’m scared I’m going to develop depression.

When did my fears shift from normal things like getting bit by a poisonous snake to being afraid of my mind?

For me, anxiety is this constant urge to push myself. I want to do as much as I possibly can with my life. But at the same time when I’m numb, I don’t want to be productive.

Because of anxiety, I love to live through other people. I absolutely love it when a friend calls to just talk about everything they did that day. I have a very visual mind and listening to them talk about it is almost the same as me living it. It’s all I have most of the time. My friends are the reason I do anything.

My biggest curiosity is, what is life for people who don’t have anxiety or depression? Do they do things without worrying about them for hours to days to weeks? And then not stress about them for weeks afterward? What is that like?

Last year was probably my lowest point. I didn’t know until August what was really wrong with me. I pushed everyone away because I didn’t know how or want to explain it to them. It’s all my fault. I didn’t want people. I just wanted to sit at home forever and not do anything. Because I went through last year, I always reach out to people. I don’t want anyone to ever have to suffer like I did. I especially don’t want anyone to suffer like that alone.

Anxiety has made me obsessive. When I’m stressed, I clean everything. I can’t help it. When everything is clean, I start to stress even more because now I don’t know what to do.

Anxiety makes everything a trigger.

I freaking hate that. I can never really tell what is actually triggering me. Sometimes it’s knowing I have to talk with someone about something. Sometimes it’s drinking too much caffeine. Sometimes it’s a dentist visit. Sometimes the trigger is doing what I love most: Being in nature with my best friends.

I went to a wedding recently. I hate that I spent 3 months dreading it and avoiding thinking about it because every time I did, I would start having an anxiety attack.

Anxiety means I will go to a conference and have constant anxiety attacks. But I walk around smiling at everyone while thinking, I hate people, I just want to be home.

I hate that I only have good days when I don’t do anything. I had a great week last week. But that’s because I didn’t leave my house from Sunday till Friday. That’s my life.

I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m not asking for anything. I just want people to understand that anxiety is not an excuse. Anxiety is the explanation.

Please understand that you don’t understand.

You can’t imagine losing control of your body in a panic attack until you do. I don’t need anyone to fix me. I just want people to understand that I’m not a hermit by choice. There is a huge reason, but I can’t explain it at the moment. This is me explaining myself.

It hurts when people say I’m lazy because I never leave the house. I am one of the most productive people you will ever meet. I can’t not be doing something. It’s hard for me to actually relax. I really don’t know how to relax.

I need to end this post or I’m going to be writing forever. I think I’m going to make this a series of posts. These confessions. I really enjoy writing them and explaining myself.

Thank you for reading the ramblings of my anxious brain.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Heather

P.S.

I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts on mental illnesses. How have they affected your life? Is it something that happened to you personally? Or to a friend/family member? What do you think is the most misunderstood mental illness? Comment below and let’s start a discussion. Do you have any questions about anxiety? Leave them below. I’ll be sure to answer them. I’m trying to become very open about this subject. If I get enough I might write another post.

 

About the Author

admin

6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: