“It’s sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age.” ~ Amanda Seyfried
I’m nowhere near as anxious now as I was for the first, oo, maybe thirty years of my life; when I was walking around with a permanent knot of fear in my stomach constantly threatening to unravel itself into a flat-out panic, but I am still considerably more anxious than the average human being with nothing all that much to be anxious about.
I have generalised anxiety disorder. And anxiety is also a facet of all my other disorders. So…
Anyway, one thing that all this anxiety has taught me is that anxiety almost always lies.
Not even little lies. Huge whopping great lies that a lot of more rational people struggle to understand how I don’t instantly see through them.
I’ll give you some examples of the kind of lies that my anxiety tells me.
1. Even my closest friends don’t really like me and would rather be rid of me.
I woke up one morning last week totally convinced that my good friend Nadia hated me and was incredibly annoyed with me.
This was despite the fact that she’d visited me so that we could spend a lovely evening the night before getting dinner, drinking wine, then going back to mine to watch TV and make chips.
Despite the fact that we’d had a whole conversation about how glad we were of our friendship and how much we liked each other.
And yet it took a good few days for my rational brain to convince the rest of my brain that my anxiety was lying.
Stupid me too I guess.
2. Every time my boyfriend wants to tell me something lately I think he’s angry with me or wants to break up with me.
He turns to me to say something when I’m not expecting it and I get all anxious and jumpy and think that he’s about to say something awful.
This is despite the fact that things are currently fine, better than fine, great actually, and that I can count the number of arguments we’ve actually had on just the one hand.
I know that he loves me, and yet sometimes my anxiety does a bang up job of making me doubt it for a while.
It’s frustrating. For both of us.
3. It would have me believe that a trip to the grocery store, my GP surgery, the pub, or, well, anywhere really, is a massive big deal, fraught with danger.
There are times when the thought of going out, to anywhere, literally terrifies me.
I’m scared of the outside. I’m scared of the inside. I’m scared of the people, the noises, the air.
And there’s no real reason for it.
Millions of people all over the country pop out to the shop to pick up things that they need every single day. And the overwhelming majority of those people do so completely uneventfully.
There’s no particular reason for me to believe that I’m destined to be an exception.
And yet I do.
4. There’s going to be some incredibly non-specific disaster that is going to make it impossible to get food, money, or other essential items.
I have not one now, but two, kitchens fully stocked up in case of some catastrophic event that I really couldn’t describe or define for you.
Much cat food, many tinned goods, lots of fluids. Nothing else could be crammed into my freezer.
I always make sure I have plenty of anything else I might conceivably need as well.
In case of an apocalypse I could pretty well keep us, and everyone else we know in town, going until the end of the year.
I don’t believe that there will ever be an apocalypse. I don’t have any reason to believe that the place where I live might turn into a disaster zone at any point in the foreseeable future.
And yet I cannot overcome my deep-seated anxious fear of potential starvation.
Similarly I’m always worrying, for no particular reason, that I’m going to lose my job and/or my home and then my life is going to fall apart.
5. That any confidence that I might have is in reality nothing but self-delusion.
Okay, I can at least trace the roots of this one.
Twenty odd years of my mother repeatedly telling me that that I was stupid, ugly, incapable, and that I shouldn’t ever believe that I was actually friends with anybody because they were definitely only being polite.
Plus my dad insisting that I just couldn’t trust my perception of reality because it was just too unreliable.
Oh, and then of course on top of that there’s just the standard imposter syndrome.
No matter how many exams I sit, qualifications I gain, skills and experiences I can document, promotions I receive – no matter what I know I can do and be good at – I still constantly doubt myself professionally and personally, and worry that any time I display confidence everyone will secretly be mocking me behind my back.
These are far from the only lies my anxiety tells me but that gives you a picture.
Do you suffer with any form of anxiety? What does yours tell you?