By Holly Riordan
My anxiety doesn’t always make sense. Sure, the idea of giving a presentation in front of a crowd or making a phone call that could impact my career sends my fingers shaking.
But those aren’t the only things that set off my anxiety.
Little things do it, too. Things that I’ve done a million times before. Talking to a cashier. Answering a question in class. Driving down the highway. Answering an email from a coworker.
Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and have no idea what’s bothering me. I just feel fear. Fear for my life. Fear for my future. Fear for the world.
For me, everything causes anxiety. And nothing causes anxiety.
That’s why I hate how concerned my loved ones look when I break down in front of them. I hate how they look at me with a question mark in their eyes, wondering what they can do to ‘fix’ the problem, to fix me.
My boyfriend, my parents, my close friends — they all calm me down. My anxiety levels tend to be lower when I’m surrounded by people I love. But that doesn’t mean I’m always perfectly fine as long as they’re in the same room as me. Their love isn’t a cure.
I can still experience anxiety around them. I can still feel alone when they have their arms wrapped around me. I can still feel like my world is falling apart, even when they say and do all of the right things.
I can’t help it. It just happens.
I try my hardest to enjoy the moment, to make the most of my present, but my anxiety makes that close to impossible. I’m either worrying about an appointment or a party I have to go to a month from now or I’m thinking about something stupid that I did a decade ago.
Either that or I’m paying attention to small things that are currently happening around me. Wondering if anyone noticed the stain on my shirt or if they think I’m a snob for being too quiet or if that joke I made ten minutes earlier made me look stupid.
My brain is never quiet. It’s the loudest thing in the room.
The reason anxiety sucks so much is because it’s hard to explain. I can tell you the symptoms of it. I can explain that it makes my breathing heavy, my mouth dry, my hands sweaty and shaky — but I can’t always tell you why I’m anxious.
Half of the time, I have no idea.
I’m mainly worried about making mistakes, about looking stupid. But why? Deep down, I don’t really care what other people think — or maybe I do. My anxiety makes sure that I do.
It makes sure that I’m always awkward, embarrassed, concerned, confused, off. It makes my life a living hell.
So please, don’t judge me over my anxiety. Don’t hate me for my anxiety. But it’s okay if you don’t understand my anxiety, because honestly, I don’t even understand it myself.