anxiety can look like… Achievement. Busyness. Perfectionism.
it can manifest in nervous habits: Nail biting. Foot tapping. Running fingers through your hair. Or unanswered text messages. Flakiness. Nervous laughter. The panic that flashes through my eyes when a plan changes. When anything changes
anxiety can feel like… tightness or tension in the jaws, the shoulders, the head to the point of ache or stomach aches
In a person’s mind, anxiety can sound like…
You’re not good enough. You’re a bad friend. You’re not good at your job. You’re wasting time. You’re a waste of time. Your partner doesn’t love you. You’re so needy. What are you doing with yourself? Why would you say that? What if they hate it? Why can’t you have your shit together? You’re going to get anxious and because you’re going to get anxious, you’re going to mess everything up. You’re a fraud. Just good at faking it. You’re letting everybody down. No one here likes you.
All the while, it appears perfectly calm.
It’s always looking for the next outlet, something to channel the never-ending energy. Writing. Running. List-making. Mindless tasks (whatever keeps you busy). Doing jumping jacks in the kitchen. Dancing in the living room, pretending it’s for fun, when really it’s a choreographed routine of desperation, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head.
Anxiety is always being busy but also always avoiding, so important things don’t get done. It’s letting things pile up rather than admitting you’re overwhelmed or in need of help.
Anxiety is that sharp pang of saying the wrong thing, the one that starts the cycles of thoughts. Because you said too much, and nobody cares, and it makes you never want to speak up again. But there are the thoughts again...
It’s going back and forth between everyone else has it together but you, and so many people have it tougher than you.
Get your act together.
Suck it up.
You’re not OK, you’re messing everything up.
You’re totally OK, stop being such a baby.
Then there are the worst-case-scenario that just went through your head at high speed seems so real, so vivid, that even when it’s proven to be untrue, it takes hours for your heart to slow down, to feel calm again.
Because how “OK” are you when a day without a plan is enough to make you crumble? When empty spaces make you spiral at the very anticipation of being alone with your thoughts? When you need to make a list to get through a Sunday: watch a show, clean your kitchen, exercise, answer five emails, read 10 pages, watch a show… ?
So what to do?
- learning how to sit with it.
- Practicing doing little to nothing.
- Challenging the mean, unrelenting voices that say you’re only worth what you produced that day.
- Trying to take care of yourself without the guilt.
- It means every once in a while, confiding in a friend.
- It means sometimes showing up even when you’re scared.
- answering a text impulsively and thoughtlessly as an act of bravery.
- It’s fighting against your own need to constantly prove your right to exist in this world.
- It’s learning how to validate your own feelings. That even though you don’t feel like you’re enough, and you’ll never be enough, it’s knowing you’re at least anxious enough to benefit from help – even self-help.
- That taking a break doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
- It’s finding your own humanity in the anxiety, in your weaknesses. It’s trying to let the energy inspire you, instead of bring you down.
- It’s forgiving yourself when it wins.
- It’s a way to live, with this constant companion. Your bullying twin.
A first good step is staring at it straight on and calling it by its name – Anxiety!
Source: 2016, Schuster
#Mark Taylor Psychologist