Everyone has anxiety. It’s just a part of life. I’m told that anxiety has some positive impacts on our lives – such as teaching us how not to die. For example, if we’re driving and we think, “Hey look, that truck is coming right at me at a high rate of speed,” that thought is much more effective if it incites some degree of anxiety. Anxiety that will, we hope, cause us to get the f*** out of the way.
I have Anxiety. With a capital A. With Anxiety, you see a truck coming toward you – safely on the other side of the highway driving at a normal rate of speed – and your brain is helpfully supplying all of the possible scenarios in which that truck might cross the massive median, flip over for 30 yards and land on top of your tiny car, paralyzing you from the neck down and requiring years of relearning how to communicate which you are far too old to relearn, forcing you to move in with your parents, and OMG who will take care of your cats, and OMFG how will you pay the medical bills, and JFC how are you going to pee? (Go ahead and laugh. That was an actual inner monologue of mine recently. Except it was more detailed about the peeing thing. I don’t think you need those details.)
So yeah. That kind of Anxiety.
I’m lucky. My Anxiety doesn’t prevent me from living my life – admittedly with a happy dose of anti-Anxiety medication and the occasional text to a friend to give them a heads up that the bruise on my leg might be a blood clot that will kill me by morning. (Go ahead and laugh. I actually did that once. Sorry, Lara.) I have friends who can’t drive because of Anxiety. Can’t go out into social situations. Won’t meet new people.
Occasionally, however, Anxiety does like to remind me who is in charge. Recently, I had a few panic attacks. Don’t get me wrong, I can go without breathing for a minute or so at a time without dying, but it isn’t really fun. And that ticking in my head? Yeah, it kind of feels like an old friend sometimes. But for reals, it was a bit out of control.
So I went to my doctor. I cried like the stupidly stressed out crazy person that I clearly was at the time, but it wasn’t until I mentioned that I have regular nightmares and night terrors – something that I’ve dealt with since I was a kid – that my doctor suggested I try therapy. I have to admit that I’ve always secretly liked the idea of needing a therapist. It sounds kind of romantic and eccentric to be in therapy. I wanted to have some sort of cool disorder that made me super unique. My therapist would probably write a paper about my brain and win a Nobel Prize in… well, anyway. Therapy? Bring. It. On.
My therapist’s opinion? I’m normal. It seems like I have a great family, a well-rounded and happy childhood, and a happily independent, reasonably successful life. I put too much pressure on myself. I don’t know how to say no. I’m an over-achiever who has gotten to a place where I can’t quite meet those high expectations I’ve set for myself. Oh, and I should cut down on the caffeine and make an effort to sleep 8 hours a night. And exercise. And eat better.
But it is still early in my therapy experience. I’m going to go back next week, still holding out hope that I am, in fact, as batshit crazy as I feel sometimes.