A while ago, I was talking to one of my good friends and noticed him spacing out. I asked him what was on his mind and he said nothing. I immediately assumed he was just saying this because he didn’t want to talk through his problems. In fact, we got into a little argument about whether or not it was even possible to be thinking about nothing and by the end, he convinced me it was.
I started to reflect on how my brain works. As I thought more about it I realized a lot of my friends question why I overanalyze things quite often. They try so hard to understand why I can’t let the smallest negative interactions go. I tried to think of an answer or an explanation.
Up until a year ago, I assumed constant racing thoughts and constant critical analysis was a normal part of life. Then I stopped being able to go to school. I would wake up sick to my stomach, my head pounding. The days I managed to go to school, I would be so overwhelmed by people that I would have to excuse myself from class to hyperventilate in the bathroom. Finally, I talked to my mom, went to a doctor and was diagnosed with anxiety.
That was my answer. Now, I had to figure out how to explain it to my friends. Honestly, I didn’t even tell my friends for the longest time. However, I feel it is time to share.
I settled on a simple analogy. There is a section of my brain that is controlled by a 3-year old.
A typical three-year-old asks the constant “why” question. Why this? Why that? What if this? What if that? My brain plays a constant loop of these questions. Every interaction, every relationship, every future scenario is met with a string of questions before I am even aware it is happening.
Similar to a three-year-old, my anxiety nags. It never leaves me alone because it demands constant attention. The more I ignore it, the louder it gets. If I don’t acknowledge the problem, it just screams bloody murder. Some days it takes all my strength to address the problem and find a viable solution and other days it’s as simple as using a pacifying breathing technique.
Just as three-year-old needs constant love and attention to feel valued, I find my anxiety creates a need for reassurance in every relationship I have. Sometimes my anxiety can accept that just because I’m not receiving constant reassurance doesn’t mean I’m unloved. Other times, it throws a tantrum and I lash out without even realizing.
A three-year-old is hard to control, but eventually, it grows up. The child becomes easier to manage with more and more experience about what calms them down and what triggers them. That is where the hope is found because anxiety is just the same.
Like any child, there are good and bad days, but at the core, you love them for the blessings they give you. My anxiety has blessed me with numerous gifts that I wouldn’t trade for the world and has left me with nothing but the Lord more times than I can count.
There’s a shot at a clear explanation of the messy and unique obstacle of anxiety and I hope it offers some insight or some reassurance that you are not alone.