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How My Anxiety Feels

Anxiety for me is like an answer looking for a question.

I’m in the midst of what I call an attack, though I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know if that’s the technical term for what happens to me. My heart rate is elevated. I’m jumpy. I’m extra sensitive to criticism, and I’m extra worried about...well, everything.

I’ve had anxiety issues for many years, though only in the last year did I realize that maybe this wasn’t just what everyone went through. You see my anxiety always picked very relevant, real topics. I wasn’t anxious about a zombie apocalypse or werewolf attack. I was anxious about what comes after death. Or ending up alone. Or my job. Or debt. These are all very normal things to be anxious about, right?

The problem came in that they would keep me up at night. I’d feel short of breath (like I do now). I couldn’t watch any show where certain topics were brought up. Even reading the word debt in a newspaper (even when talking about the national debt, for example) would fill me with dread. I couldn’t sit in my living room and watch TV at night because the big window beside the TV would show pitch black which would make me think of my impending death (this was at the age of around 12).

These days it fills me with a kind of paralysis. I know what I have to do, and I don’t want to do it. I feel like I don’t deserve to do it, because I deserve to feel this pain and discomfort, for some reason. Used to be because I made bad choices and debt was my fault (though feeling bad about it helped basically nothing). I’d feel nervous about my job, then spend the day paralyzed, unable to get down to or finish something, flitting from email to email without actually finishing anything.

What I’ve come to realize is I can’t negotiate with it. When I’m anxious about my job recalling compliments I’ve received a week ago, or a positive performance review, doesn’t help. Trying to rationalize any of it away is just engaging with it, and it doesn’t help. It seems to even feed it. Which I suppose is a bit of what I’m doing now, but I felt the need to get something out and down on paper. So to speak.

So for now I will breath deep. I will engage with my friends and family. I will do things I love, like read, or play video games. And let it pass. It always does, eventually.

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