This is the hardest piece I’ve written so far. I’ve started and finished many times. Tonight I came on the computer to write about something else and I realised that I’m avoiding this piece because it’s laying myself bare and it’s not pretty. I’m not writing about the dramatic events, the poetic life circumstances, the beauty in gratitude or the pain and fear. What I’m writing about here is the mundane, everyday truth of anxiety. The ugly, low lying, creeps up on you day by day face of anxiety.
I’ve not been sure if I can articulate what it’s like to live with my anxiety. I say MY anxiety as I’m sure it’s slightly different for everyone. But I realise that I didn’t think I could articulate it because it’s not glamorous. Because actually on the face of it, it all seems pretty insignificant. There is no drama to be seen here. It doesn’t even really seem worthy of expressing. But it’s crippling none-the-less and all I have to do is write it as it is.
The inside of my head is constantly on the go. It’s frantic. This is quite honest but right now this is just some of the stuff that is going on in my head and it feels like it’s going to explode…
- I need a new car because it only has two doors and there is no way I can continue to lift O and his car seat in and out over the front seat
- We need to paint the downstairs bathroom as it’s still bare plaster
- I haven’t hoovered upstairs for weeks and now with the baby I need to keep things clean
- The garden is completely overgrown
- We’ve run out of cat food
- I haven’t been able to do any proper exercise for such a long time – how am I going to lose the baby weight
- I need new clothes because I’m wearing maternity clothes that are too big for me yet I can’t fit in my old clothes
- The cat needs more drugs from the vets
- We need new light bulbs for the bathroom
- I need to find a nursery for O
- There are piles of clutter all over the house
- When am I ever going to move out of the spare room
- When are we going to get to go on holiday
- I need to clean the oven
- I want to go for a walk tomorrow
- I need to get a card for my friends birthday
- I need to get flowers for mum
- I want to go out for lunch tomorrow
- I need to copy the links off facebook about things to do with kids/how to be a better listener etc etc
- I need to pay my credit card bill
- I need to arrange a day to go visit work
- I need to book an eye test
- I need to…
- I want to…
And so it goes on (yawn).
This may just seem like an elaborate to-do list. A bunch of pretty trivial stuff I just need to get cracking on with. And therein lies the problem. I don’t ‘get cracking on’ with any of it because the constant loop in my head means that I’m completely incapable of doing any of it, not even one single thing. I can’t prioritise. I can’t even procrastinate because the procrastination is another thing to fill up my head and worry about. Every single one of these things involves choice, and choice is difficult for me. Too much and I feel completely overwhelmed. Having to make decisions is scary; what if I make the wrong one?
This is a real-life example of how things can escalate…
I’m in the shower and as I turn around I don’t particularly like the ‘mum-tum’ that I’ve acquired. I know that a couple of weeks ago I said that we needed to sort out our diet, so as I’m drying myself off post shower I decide that sorting out our diet is the most important thing for me to do today. I rush downstairs and pull all the healthy cookbooks off the shelves, grab my phone and a pen and pad and start to write some lists and plans. How am I going to make our dinners healthier, quicker, and cheaper? I start a list for quick dinners, one for cheap dinners, one that will be good for weaning, as I go along I start to fill in a two week meal plan, categorising all the meals. Then I start looking at the lists of meals on my phone from when I’ve done this before, I start adding those to the various pieces of paper that surround me. One of the recipes was from pinterest so I wonder what other recipes are on there. As I go on my phone to take a look I see a post about exercising and I remember that I wanted to start exercising again too, so I start up another list about the exercise plan I want to have. Bootcamp on a Monday, Yoga on a Tuesday, Run on a Wednesday. I see a text pop up and it’s about planning a date to visit a friend, a friend that I really want to see, so I look at my diary and realise next week is pretty manic, and the week after. When am I going to fit in the bootcamp, the yoga, the run? I see that I haven’t bought a card for another good friend whose birthday is in the diary, so I decide to add that to my food shopping list. That reminds me that I was meal planning and I go back to the books I have laid out all over the kitchen table. But I realise I’ve started way too many lists and it’s an impossible task seen as I need to do a food shop today. I go to grab a glass of water but as I do, I remember that before I went in the shower I was going to load the dishwasher, but I didn’t finish because I was worried that there wasn’t enough space for everything to fit (!) so I had decided to hang some washing up instead. I’ve left a pile of damp clothes that need hanging up because whilst getting them out of the machine I had decided that I needed to have a shower so my hair can dry before I go out. Although, I can’t go out, because the inside of my head feels intense, I feel jittery. I know I need to stay here and sort myself out. I need to categorise, prioritise, segment things into lists and order. I need control.
But this isn’t the end. This carries on and on and on. Sometimes for days at a time. Sometimes for weeks. I’m doing a hundred things whilst thinking of a million things at once. Trying to multitask, trying to juggle but it all comes down to choice, to control, to order, to my crippling perfectionist standards. I can’t do anything unless it is the perfect scenario. But there is no logic, as there is no perfection in doing nothing.
Even writing this post is hard because the thoughts are coming so quickly I can’t get them down in any kind of order. There is so much in my head bursting out I can’t keep up.
Sometimes it’s very internal, no one else can see what is happening inside my head and I retreat into myself. Other times it all spills over and I am a sobbing mess, my husband picking up the pieces of my insane standards over such trivial matters.
I’m in control hell and I crave simplicity.
I’ve actually come to a place where I’m at ease with this now, most of the time. I have coping strategies that I’d love to use my blog to share – meditation, minimalism, getting outside into nature. There are also so many facets to my mental state, and this is just one. There have been glimpses of depression and addiction along the way which I also hope to have the courage to share.
If you’ve got this far, then thank you for sticking with me. Like I say, it’s not pretty or exciting but this is it when I’m in the thick of the mundane, day to day anxiety.