I was listening to a radio interview the other day. Not by choice but because my husband’s radio doesn’t work in his car, and he doesn’t have Bluetooth, I know, so 90’s. So, we were stuck listening to an AM station on our five-hour drive – no music, just talking, which is actually good at times if I am honest. This was one of those times.
The interviewee, a published author, discussed her upbringing and, with that, her anxieties. It made me think. In fact, it was an a-ha moment because it reminded me of my own life, and I realised quickly that this anxiety that I’ve been feeling lately that has felt all-encompassing has been with me for a very long time.
As a child, I remember my crazy, unrealistic fears like sharks in our pool or killers at my door.
My intense shyness as a little girl.
The many nights I would cry myself to sleep thinking how awful it would be if my parents or brothers died.
I would often hit myself in the head with my brush after saying or doing something wrong – waiting until there were tiny speckles of blood on my scalp from the bristles.
I remember my parents having to pick me up from sleepovers because I would suddenly become unwell with tummy pains, but in actuality, I was freaking the fuck out.
Then there were the coping mechanisms I adopted.
The beatings I would give myself.
The suicidal thoughts.
The approval seeking.
The doubting of myself and situations and me pulling out of things.
There are so many things now when I look back. I was constantly overthinking everything and always with a worst-case scenario in mind.
As I grew into a teenager, so many things happened to me that confirmed all my worries. These things just solidified the awful stuff I had decided to be my fate. I took them on and made them my just deserves. Even now, I wrap it up in a big bundle of karma because I deserved it all.
Now I sit here at 5 in the morning. Chest burning and reverberating with intense anxiety. Not because of anything significant. Just a typical day ahead. I will get the kids ready for school, and I will go to work. That is all. But with work comes emails, lots of people to make happy, appointments I have to win, unknown phone calls to answer – will they be satisfied or angry clients/colleagues/contractors. Have I remembered to do everything? I can’t remember. So I re-check, double-check and triple-check everything over and over again. Then I panic when I realised somethings been forgotten. So I beat myself up and tell my brain it is stupid for not remembering!
Today, especially, I have so much to catch up on because I’ve been away for three days. I’m already on edge; my headache is brewing. I’m deep breathing. Just breathe – I will tell myself this all day long.
Others tell me to get over it. I have a good life and nothing to worry about – I am healthy; I have healthy children; we are lucky; it’s just a job; stop overthinking things… I know this—all of it. But there’s no off switch.
So now it is 6 in the morning, and I have already counted how many hours to go until my appointment at least ten times. I have rescheduled my morning at least five times for what I should be doing against what I am doing. I have prayed silently for people to be friendly today and that my day is easy and everything I need to do gets accomplished. I’ve asked the universe for all my appointments and after school activities to be cancelled. I’ve gone over and over what I could cook from my almost empty fridge so that I don’t have to go to the shop and ‘people’. I’ve worried about my son driving to school, the heater catching fire, not being ready in time for work, spiders, red-light cameras, waking the kids up too early, how tired I already feel, whether I am a worthwhile employee, the contents of the 15 emails I have already received, money, the clutter in my room. It goes on and on. There is no relief. It’s not even 8 o’clock yet.
My chest is tight. There are knots and fizzy bubbles in my heart. I hate living like this. It is intense most of the time. Just breathe.