A new writer I discovered, Alissa Ashley, @alissa_ashleyy, just blew my mind with her simplicity of defining the chaos and exhaustion of anxiety.
“I require alone time to function and keep my mood in check.”
She is in my soul.
I started acting like as asshole the second I woke up this morning. I wish I could excuse it, or reason it away. Nope. Just an asshole.
For hours, I tried to reason out what my malfunction was and why I was leaking black brain bile on the person who was trying to love me and help.
Twelve hours later and I’m still fumbling for a solution or at least five minutes of furlong. The person trying to love and help is probably two drinks deep at a bar, having long given up on me.
That compact but explosive sentence by Ms. Ashley illuminated my transgressions like a search light.
Dealing with my anxiety brain is exhausting. So, so much mental work has to go on simply to process benign stimuli.
Conversations go like this:
Someone: Hey! Look at this fun letter I drew!
Some Other People: Cool!
*Anxiety Brain: Wow. They’re really good. Why are they even talking to you? You can’t do anything like that? Remember that time you tried to make something and it was awful? Yeah. That’s every time and will absolutely be every time you ever try to create anything for the rest of your life. You should probably stop what you’re doing and throw yourself out this window.
*Reasonable Brain: Okay. Let’s take a breath here Let’s stop and count and review our therapy cues and coping. That’s an unreasonable response. That person has had hours and days and years of time to learn and practice and become skilled at art. You haven’t. You can do other things. It’s totally fine. You’re totally fine. Stop…no…stop digging your nails into your skin. That doesn’t address this emotion, that creates a cover sensation. How about we get the red pen? Do we need the red pen? We actually seem a little dizzy. Let’s sit down and take a break for a second. We’ll come back to this in a minute.
And on and on and on it goes. My brain is dealing and processing and navigating a misinterpreted conversation line from thirty minutes ago and whoever I am talking to has no doubt fled the conversation because I shrugged it off with a “fine” or “whatever, must be nice” or my absolute darling, “k.”
It’s truly back-grinding and reserve-demolishing work. I can in all honestly run a half-marathon on only a fraction of the energy it takes to maintain my mood and not explode into irrational anger or torrential tears.
Maintaining composure and rational behavior in the midst of anxiety, it’s an ache to the cellular level. Like contracting every single muscle in your body to tiptoe across a drawbridge splintering with every step, but only you see it. Each progression of an inch takes the effort of traversing an entire city. Every other passerby seems to be able to trod across as though it was a path of solid steel. Meanwhile, your every fiber is aflame and disintegrating with the exertion.
That’s why I have to step away. Or crawl away, depending on how bad the day is. I can only imagine how trying it is to be on the other side, when I know these pangs.
So, tonight, away from humanity again. Alone. Trying to keep it all in check.