Resisting my Stalker

I’m stalked by anxiety and resisting it is my daily battle.

It tempts me from the moment I wake up and feel a rush of panic as my heart becomes humming bird wings in my throat and I have to tell myself not to vomit; I have to tell myself that it’s just another normal day that I can cope with; I have to remind myself that there are no real threats; I have to convince myself to get out of bed. I talk to myself until my body listens and gets up. I’ve mastered it so well that no matter what, it works every day now. It’s been working every day for over a year.

The more I reflect in writing, the more I’m convinced by the immense power I have over myself, but the challenge is resisting anxiety which so sneakily steals the memory of all these sensible thoughts from me. I am so used to giving in to anxiety that it’s become a reflex- in my darkest moments I automatically connect to all the other dark moments and boy is it hard to make them go away.

But resistance is possible and the more I do it, the more I remember that.

I find noticing different textures whilst walking to work soothing- I sometimes run my fingers along fences and leaves, mentally recording the feeling.

I’ve not been reflecting enough in writing and letting my thoughts run loose, so the anxiety stalker has been right behind me, threatening to attach itself to those thoughts like a shadow during a never-ending clear-skyed noon. It’s OK though. I’ve spotted it in time and here I am. It’s time to think back to where I last was before I strayed: using philosophy and psychology to guide me by slowly working through Derren Brown’s ‘Happy’. I can’t remember when I stopped reading but I know why. I gave into the fatigue that accompanies that feeling of not coping.

Resisting anxiety is all about the conversations that I have with myself. If those conversations are in my head, I often fail to notice the anxiety stalker. If those conversations happen in writing, when I know someone else could read them, I’m forced to accept the illogical as illogical. Reading and writing is my savior. No it’s not. I’m my savior and I recognise that I can use reading and writing to help.

I don’t like the preachiness of life tips, but if you too are stalked by anxiety, I genuinely recommend you reflect on the conversations you have with yourself and think: am I ever expressing these thoughts externally to see how they sit outside of my head? If not, please look for a safe space to put your thoughts out in, to help you identify which are sensible and which are side-effects of anxiety leaving you in fight-or-flight mode.


Intentional Recovery

I love how these twigs are holding on.

So I dipped for a bit again and I noticed I was dipping and before I knew it I was struggling to get my head above water again. There wasn’t enough money, or time or energy in me to put up with everything life needed from me to keep things going, and this was all I could think about. I had to keep rewinding the TV, because my mind kept wandering and I kept missing whole chunks. I was ignoring pressing tasks at work for fear of failing at them, avoiding anything challenging or new for fear my in-competencies would be exposed, and I was struggling to empathise with colleagues or over-empathising with them and making their worries my own, too.

I’m well-versed enough now though to know I couldn’t let it continue. I had to lead by example- I tell people to seek help without shame when they need it.

I knew it would take a while to get some therapy to help me through so I asked the doctor to put me back on my beta-blockers.

I didn’t even hesitate, because I remember how they rescued me last time. I’ve done my research on it, I know how my body takes to it and it is helping. I’m finally able to have decent stretches of time that aren’t pestered by panic and anxiety. It’s amazing how quickly I just accepted the state of panic that was taking over my days and didn’t check myself until…I was going to say until it got too late, because that’s what usually happens; but I didn’t wait until it was too late this time. This time I got help in time.

This is why active reflection like this, in writing, is so much better than just letting my mind wander. Normally, I would have accepted that my response wasn’t good enough again this time and punished myself with guilt, endlessly.

So things are improving. I’m holding on. Intentionally.