I have high functioning anxiety. Most of you wouldn't even guess because I'm so good at hiding it. But the anxiety has limited my life in so many ways.
When I was younger, I hated being embarrassed if I couldn't do something so I never gave sports or athletics (or frankly many other things) a try. I used bravado to hide my fears, chewed my nails until they bled and used snark as a defense mechanism. When a friend asked me to go skiing with her, we practiced for hours in her living room how to get on and off the lifts as well as how to stop the skis' motion. Staying up all night worrying about the trip, I wanted to have fun but my fears of failure and not being able to do it, made my stomach clench. Needless to say, the preparations weren't enough and I fell flat on my face, gave up and refused to even try again.
Writing became a way for me to let go of my fears in a positive way. Often I wouldn't share what I wrote but kept them for myself, but every once in a while, they were meant to show another, or maybe help someone else.
This is something I wrote to share with my husband after a particularly rough night...
You are probably saying that you knew all that. But I don’t know if you knew that one thing that I love about you, was the way that you took care of me. From day one, I felt that someone else was shouldering some of my responsibility or at least able to take on their own. There have been few times when I have felt a conflict and then once we talk, I am fine. So what that comes down to is:
I was feeling like I was “doing it all” and it wore me
out to the point of exhaustion. You were tired and
wore out too. But at the time, I felt that no one
was going to take care of me.
At some point, I started getting the help I needed. I saw a counselor and began a medication regimen. I also received support from my loved ones who understood the debilitating effects of anxiety. I felt I could share my fears and by doing so, they were halved.
I was handling things... or so I thought. Just like with any disease, there are good times and bad. Days when I am able to do anything but there are also days when I'm too scared to leave the house.
I used to drive to Ohio to visit family and friends all the time alone. I'd hop in my car and hit the highways with never a fear. I'd go to author events and book signings as well as lunches with friends. But lately, I've noticed those have dropped by the wayside. Oh, I always have a good reason for not going, but the fact is... My fears are ruling me again. I'm back to chewing on my nails and letting the negative loop in my head dictate my thinking.
I'm afraid to leave my house alone (unless it's to work or the grocery store). Luckily for me, my husband is retired and enjoys going to hang out with me. But what happens when he's gone? I hide out with the dogs. We read and do household chores, cook and play games.
I'd planned on heading to Ohio to visit a friend. It was a perfect day to do it. Hubby was camping and I needed the room in the car for a rug to take down. But as the day approached, I became more fearful. My stomach churned. I popped Tums daily in addition to my other meds. Then the night before, I had horrible dreams of my murder. I woke up choking a couple of times. Even snuggled in with the dogs and the hall light on, I didn't sleep well. Deciding that the trip was too much, I backed out. I felt horrible to miss visiting a friend.
Today, I'm going to plan on getting out of the house for a bit alone. Do an errand or just pick up a coffee someplace. I need to find my confidence again.
Please know that if you are facing anxiety like me, you are not alone. <3
Musings from Michigan