Anxiety: My Story
This issue is so pervasive in my life that there is almost no part of my day where I am not in turmoil about a decision I am making. This may be hard to understand but even writing this post has me wondering if others would think it was the best use of my time. It usually starts with my wife, who is closest to me. I always feel that she thinks I should be doing something else. Then I even start wandering off to other family members or even friends and wondering what they may think about what I am writing or why I am writing it at all.
In a little while, I will need to run to the store to pick up a few things. This is extremely exhausting because the amount of mental effort that this will take is mind-boggling. A normal person, whatever that is, would be able to run to the store, get what they need, and come back home. I put myself through so many things throughout the journey that it is ridiculous. Here’s how it will most likely go.
Leave the house. Worry about if I have my wallet. Check to see. Lock the door. Make sure the door is locked. Head out to the van. Check all the tires. Realize that one is low. Get in the van. Start driving to the store. Worry that my driving is inconveniencing others. Notice the inconsiderate driving of others. Come to a stop sign. Worry that the person behind me thinks that I am not going fast enough or that I didn’t stop for long enough. Get frustrated and perceive that the person behind me is a jerk for rushing me. Get to the store. Worry that there won’t be a cart and if I do find a cart it will squeak or pull to the right or shake violently. Now I’m in the store. I need to stay out of everyone’s way. I want to look at this dish soap, but someone comes up behind me. I’m inconveniencing them. I will go get the next item and come back. I come back and someone else is standing there now. Great, it’s like they are doing this on purpose! I will never get this dish soap. Finally, get the dish soap and go to the checkout. Oh man, I have to check out my own groceries, that’s ok, at least I don’t have to inconvenience a cashier. Now someone has got in line behind me. I need to hurry up. My heart starts racing as I try to finish as quickly as possible. I go back out to the car and empty my groceries out of the cart. I must put the cart back in the cart corral. Oh, look someone has chosen to leave just now so that I must wait to put the cart back. Thanks a lot, buddy! Get the cart back and think that maybe I should have taken it all the way back inside. Some poor kid is going to have to come out here and get the cart or there may not be carts inside and an older person may have to walk back out into the parking lot to get one. I regret not taking it inside. Now I’m driving back home and all the same issues that I had driving to the store are occurring as I drive home. I will stop right there. I think you get the idea. It was exhausting to read, right? Imagine going through this every minute of every day! What must a day at work feel like?
This is the best way that I can describe how I feel most of the time. Even when I should be having fun and enjoying life, I am worrying about others around me and worrying about what is going to happen next. I can only have momentary joy. This joy comes in small doses and I am usually so overwhelmed by allowing myself to feel this joy that I get emotional and will usually start to tear up. I’m sharing this because I feel that those around me may have difficulty understanding some of the decisions that I make. People may not understand what I am thinking. Well, sometimes the decisions I make are an attempt to slow down the thinking. To give my mind a break.
I tend to watch the same tv shows, or movies repeatedly. I do this to calm my mind. There is safety in it. I know that there is nothing that I haven’t been able to handle seeing before, so chances are I will be just fine now. I won’t have to pay constant attention to it, since I already know what is going to happen, so if my mind does start to race, it is one less thing to worry about. I know that I can lessen the input by watching something that takes very little thought. I could just sit there in silence, but my mind really goes crazy then.
I am a big Disney fan. This started because when we were on vacations at Walt Disney World, I felt that the anxiety went away. I really allowed myself to not worry about every little thing and I absolutely loved it and more importantly loved who I was when I was there. We decided to move to Central Florida and going to the parks started to become a part of everyday life and suddenly, the anxiety showed its head there as well. All the things that trigger my anxiety are multiplied at places like theme parks. Yet I push myself into these situations, either in an attempt to “cure” myself or possibly trying to regain some of the amazing experiences I have had there in the past.
Sharing this really helps me to understand more about what is going on inside my mind. I hope that maybe by sharing this information it may help others. It may help others, who feel the same, to understand that they are not alone. There are many others out there who battle the same thing. I hope that it may shed some light on some of the things that I may say or do as well. It is my hope that those who are close to me or even those who are acquaintances can start to moderately understand why I posted what I did, or why my thoughts on things tend to change. They change depending upon my level of anxiety at the time and whether I perceive those things to be a threat.
Walt Disney World is a huge example. People close to me may notice that my opinion of the parks shift quite often. This is due to how bad my anxiety is and whether I believe I can handle a visit to the parks. If I am dealing with a lot, the thought of adding that to my plate is absurd and I will find ways of convincing myself that I have no desire to go to Walt Disney World. If things are going relatively smooth, I may decide to take the chance and brave it. I have to be careful making plans ahead of time though because even if I decide this morning that it would be great to head to the parks this evening, there are many things that could cause me to change my mind.
This was the original post that I wrote a few months back. After this post, I decided to start Anxiety Driven Life. I know that if I am feeling this way, there are so many others out there as well. I have tried so hard to beat this anxiety. I have tried to push it to the side and just “get over it” and “suck it up” as I have heard from many people. This is an impossibility so I have decided to embrace the anxiety and try to steer it in the right direction.
It is my hope that by starting Anxiety Driven Life that we can build a community of support and help each other with suggestions that may help make life a little easier or, if nothing else, serve as a way to break the stigma. An acknowledgment that we are not alone. I’m tired of hiding from the anxiety, explaining the anxiety. It is who I am.