OK, so it’s not exactly like Roger because it doesn’t come and go. It’s a steady battle that has its quiet days. But other days are like a world war where I struggle to breathe normally so the rest of the world doesn’t notice. Simple things like paging someone over the intercom at work set knots in my stomach because everyone can hear me. What if I forget to say please or sound too demanding?
I will always be too observant in any conversation, criticizing myself for anything and everything:
“Did they laugh at that? Okay, good.”
“They made a weird face when I mention this. Don’t bring it up again”
“I brought it up again I’m going to drive everyone away. Why can’t I learn to shut up?!”
“That was too loud and my laugh was too obnoxious. God, I hate my laugh. Stop being overbearing, you’re driving people away.”
But the thing that people don’t understand is if I messed up, I do not need you to point it out. I think about it a billion times myself without you telling me I’m wrong. Thinking about it a billion times is an understatement. I can still remember that one time two months ago or that one time in middle school or yes, even that one time back in kindergarten. Whether I made a stupid mistake or wasn’t the nicest person in those instances, I can still remember and still think about it, and because of the guilt, my mind eats me alive.
I apologize when I don’t have to because it’s a way to get reassurance when I feel like there’s something wrong or I’ve messed up. I tend to ask people way too often if “we’re good” because my mind will search for something to be wrong. Not only will I convince myself something’s wrong but also I'll think that it is definitely my fault. I’m afraid of people walking away. So, if I could apologize and fix it, I’m going to.
But sometimes, it’s all too much. That’s another fear — being too much. Being so much, with so many problems that are all in my head, that no one wants to deal with me anymore.
My mother tells me to slow down, stop making plans, and take a break or I’ll end up exhausted. But I make plans because that’s a break for me. I can’t stand when it’s quiet outside because that’s when it’s the loudest inside. Sitting at home watching “Grey’s Anatomy” is not enough of a distraction. Maybe I’ll never really be exhausted. The thoughts that run through my brain are much more exhausting. If I keep busy, then I sleep easily at night without the thousands of different scenarios running through my mind.
My thoughts are everywhere, right? Welcome to my mind.
Now I know some of you might have been reading this (and if you got to the end, thank you) and saying that it’s not the end of the world. I know it’s not, but the sick to my stomach feeling is much more powerful. The words, “try to stay calm” does not have this automatic soothing effect. But what does is being surrounded by people who love me and make me laugh. The times where I didn’t get any sleep and stayed up all night playing Scattergories or watching Youtube videos did not make me feel physically exhausted.
Even after all everything I’ve written, it doesn’t feel complete. It isn't complete. Because I can’t just write out a guide or description of my anxiety. It changes, but I learn to adapt.