A few weeks ago I wrote a bit about my shitty self-confidence and how I view myself, but realistically how I view myself isn’t constant (I mean honestly, just this morning I looked at myself in the mirror and thought ‘yeah, I look pretty damn good today’). It kind of comes and goes, and usually it tends to be in direct correlation to my current mental state. I know full well that mine’s not always the best, and whilst it’s okay at this very moment I’m never too sure how long it’s gonna last. Whilst it’s never been great, and it tends to come and go, it’s been more unstable, and overall just generally worse since my Dad died last year.
My biggest issue tends to be my social anxiety, which tends to present it in a variety of different ways, but recently has developed some fun new experiences. Such as when I get acutely stressed about a specific situation I get cold and shivery, to the point where my teeth are chattering, and I can barely move. People don’t tend to realise I have anxiety, perhaps because I hide it well, or because they don’t tend to be around me when it’s at it’s worst, but for me I’m so often incredibly aware of it.
My anxiety is putting off a phone call, usually for some kind of appointment, until it can’t be put off any longer, it’s those deep steadying breaths taken before typing in the number, only to delete the number and typing it out again. It’s taking more deep breaths before hitting call, only to hang up almost straight away, so then you press call again but this time you let it ring, your hands and legs are shaking, your heart is pounding, and you feel sick to your stomach. It’s not being able to decide if you want someone to answer of if you want it to go to voicemail, knowing full well if it goes to voicemail you won’t leave a message, but you’ll tell yourself you tried, so you’ll put off ringing back for another week or so. Making phone calls is easier when it’s a friend that I know well, however if they don’t answer, especially if they ignore the call, it starts of a whole cycle of thoughts in my head that go along the lines of ‘they don’t want to talk to you, stop annoying them, you’re always pestering them, no wonder they don’t want to talk to you today.’
My anxiety is in the constant worry that no one actually likes me, that people may be nice to my face, but that’s either because they are merely tolerating my company, or they haven’t realised that I’m actually just an annoying, whiny little brat. That eventually those friends that I do have are gonna realise what a needy, screwed up mess I am, and that actually being my friend is exhausting, and not really worth their time. That they’ll realise that it’s too much, and then they’ll distance themselves from me, stop talking to me, stop being my friend. My anxiety is the constant worry that I’ve done something wrong, that I’ve messed up, that I’ve said something stupid, that I’ve hurt someone else, or that it’s only a matter of time before I screw something else up. It’s those moments when I do screw up and then that’s all I can think about. It’s playing the scenario over and over and over again in your head, thinking about all the things you’d do differently if you could do it again, usually for weeks and weeks until I can lay it to rest.
My anxiety is in my issues sleeping, the fact that some nights I struggle to get to sleep for hours, replaying the same thoughts round and round in my head, usually about something I did way back in primary school, or something of the sort. Then those nights when I do get to sleep, only to have an increasingly weird series of nightmares, usually involving being hunted, waking up three or four times, or waking up at four in the morning with your heart pounding, and covered in sweat, knowing you aren’t going to be able to get back to sleep for at least an hour. It’s only being able to sleep with some sort of meditation or podcast on in the background, just because it’s the only way your brain can shut off, because in the silence your own thoughts are too loud, too intrusive, too deafening, to allow you to sleep.
My anxiety is in hating going anywhere new, of going over how to get there over and over again, and still worrying about getting lost. It’s walking past the hairdressers three or four times before actually building up enough courage to go in to ask for a haircut. It’s putting off ringing the doctors for far longer than you actually should just because you don’t want to have to talk on the phone. It’s avoiding booking driving lessons because you have no clue what you’re supposed to say, and if you’re quite honest the thought of actually driving terrifies you. My anxiety is always there. Some days it’s good and some days it’s bad. Sometimes it’s more manageable than others, sometimes it feels overwhelming. All I do is manage it the best I can, and try to ask for help where I need it.