I’m feeling overwhelmed. My own anxiety is at a high point. (I had to take an Ativan on my lunch break in order to make it through the rest of my work day yesterday.) Generally, heightened anxiety for me means that I’m not taking the time to process and deal with emotions and/or thoughts, so they add up until they become too much, a heavy weight on my chest.
It’s hard to spend time with myself, really look inside to what’s going on beneath the surface. I work full time, have two dogs to take care of, classes and homework for most of the year. I live with my fiance now, which means alone time is sparse. The doesn’t even account for talking to/meeting up with friends and family. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining about having a full life; I am incredibly lucky and grateful for the wonderful people and animals close to me, for the fact that I have a job and a home and an opportunity for education. I just mean that I greatly value my alone time. It’s the time I use to reflect on all the millions of stimuli I have been exposed to over the past few hours/days/weeks. I need that time because, for me, being alone in the quiet of my own thoughts is the only way I actually listen and feel and process.
With a hectic schedule, I often resort to the unhealthy behavior of “turning off.” My job requires 12 hour shifts that often turn into 13-14. I deal with other people all day, everyday. Family, friends, clients, therapists, doctors, city Waste Management (who neglected to empty my trashcans… AGAIN). It’s exhausting. I feel like I barely have time to grab a frozen dinner to eat before going to sleep, waking up, and starting all over again. Dealing with emotions takes time and energy that I often don’t have. So, I turn off. I sort of block everything out, become numb, until I have the time (and mental capacity) to deal with it.
So, when I’ve been numb for too long, the anxiety starts to build. I feel a weight on my chest, making it impossible to draw in enough air no matter how deeply I breathe. Sometimes, it becomes so much that I end up spending some time on the floor (or in the bath) crying hysterically, letting everything come out at once. My therapist (aptly named Joy) uses a balloon as an example; you blow air in, little by little. If you don’t let the air out, eventually the balloon with either pop, or all the air will rush out at once, sending the balloon flying erratically through the room.
I know this post is long, and it’s gone in an entirely different direction than I originally intended. Basically, I am to the point that my balloon is very full, and I need to let some air out, like, yesterday. Here is a stream of consciousness that I scribbled down on my lunch break yesterday:
I’m sad today. I feel so alone. I miss my old apartment. I could just be in my room alone, instead of having to be alone with somebody else. I just feel like such a burden. I don’t know why J even loves me. I’m not pretty, not funny. I’m too anxious all the time and not laid back or chill. You know who is pretty? J’s friend so-and-so. She is pretty, and she’s fucking chill too. It would make sense for them to be into each other. What if they’re having a secret affair? Maybe she’s at the house now, maybe she’s met my dogs. Do his friends know? Do my friends know? Do my friends even consider me their friend anymore? I’ve been so busy, I need to make more time for them. What if they don’t love me anymore? NO. Stop. You have absolutely no reason to think this. J loves you. Your friends love you. Your anxiety is getting out of control. You need to calm down. What is really going on? What are you avoiding? It’s so hard. I’m so lost. Will this panic and sadness and insecurity ever go away? I’m going to push away everyone that loves me. Can I just be normal? I hate this. I hate being myself. I want to curl into a ball in my closet and stay there in the dark quiet, maybe then I will feel peaceful. I can’t do this. I can’t keep doing this. Deep breath. Deep breath. You’re going to be okay.
Hence, the need to pop an Ativan before heading back into work, a veterinary hospital where I take care of animals and their humans. I am getting better at being self-aware. I can recognize when my thoughts are following an unhealthy pathway, the same pathways my neurons have been trained to travel my entire life. Re-training is the hard part. Stopping the thoughts, questioning them, and redirecting them somewhere positive. I’m getting better. But, as you can see, sometimes my thoughts run much faster until they’re so far ahead of me, I have to work to catch up. Does this happen to you?
When I actually slow down and logically look at them, it’s obvious that my insecurities are just that- not factually based proofs, but fearful delusions and what-ifs? So, I’ve stopped the thoughts. I question their validity. Now, to redirect. To find the truth and follow it to a place where I can be at peace with myself.
Wish me luck.