What Anxiety Has Done

I see a lot of articles online about depression and anxiety, and some of them grab my interest enough to read them. I usually stay away from the toxic kind of ’11 reasons why’ and so on type posts. But the focus of this article, is another article which I read and has stuck with me for the past few weeks. So I thought I would go through some of its points and give my own thoughts and feelings on them, how I feel they relate to me and then perhaps I can get this particular obsession off my back.

If you know me at all you should know that for the past year now I have been locked in a fight with Depression. It all came to a head for me more or less exactly one year ago, and I’ve gone into that in another post for anyone who’s interested. I don’t blame you if you are not, that kind of thing is usually only interesting or a worry to myself. Anyway, with the Depression came its friend Anxiety and through events of 2019, things have gotten to the point where I felt like I needed some help and assistance.

Focusing on the Anxiety for this particular post, lets get started. First of all, original credit where it is due. The original article was written by Elizabeth Williams for Curious Mind Magazine. Entitled: 11 Things Others Don’t Realise You Are Doing Because Of Your High Functioning Anxiety. The article is written in a 1-11 points method, which I will follow too. A quote followed by my thoughts and response.

1. Decline invites although you may want to go.

There are certain days that you may have planned all along and when they come, anxiety takes up the whole space. It can become so debilitating that you feel as if you lack the energy to go out. You are aware of what is happening to you and you don’t want to become a burden where you are supposed to go – so you just cancel everything.

Yes I most definitely do this. There are many many times I am asked to go out, and although I feel like going and participating in whatever activities are on offer, I feel that my thoughts and feelings get all up in my head and take up the entire space up there. It ends up being a big ball of noise that’s so tiring to deal with, and so I end up drained without having done anything. This in turn makes me not want to go out and be sociable. It simply makes everything else harder than it has to be. I also feel that due to the way I am feeling, I am going to be a sad-sack, and I don’t want to bring anyone around me down, so I end up cancelling meetups or events. So I miss out either way.

2. Obsess over trivial things other people may not even notice

A simple word or an unintended glance from someone is enough for your head to start processing and rewinding the situation even for days! The truth is you obsess over everything that has happened recently or a week ago, or any time ago, really. You may obsess over a conversation you had, or the fact that someone hasn’t texted you yet (after a whole 12 hour period) or really just over the fact that some stranger looked at you as if they knew you. Whatever the case may be, many would get confused by the notion that you even notice such things.

Oh my god yes. Absolutely, and this isn’t me at my ‘normal’. Note: I feel my old ‘normal’ has gone, and I am not even sure there is a ‘normal’ anymore, or if I even have to find one. I am adrift at the moment, without a ‘normal’ to speak of. So I definitely feel some sort of association with this particular point. I am going to therapy at the moment, and it can take a week or longer, but I will think back to something that has been said, or if someone looks at me strangely. I find myself processing and reprocessing those thoughts and feelings that such encounters have thrown up. It’s extremely frustrating to be living on your nerves based upon what others think of you. Why should I care so much? But I do, and I am easily affected by the words and actions of others.

3. Go to bed late, wake up early in the morning

One of the biggest issues for you is certainly sleeping. Of all the processing in your head after the day, you find it hard to go to bed on time. When early morning comes, your anxiety clock starts ticking again and ringing several alarms to get things going – even though you are tired. When your anxiety has switched on (by waking up), you can’t do anything to switch it off, so you don’t go back to bed.

Insomnia is a killer. There have been many many nights spent laying in bed waiting for sleep to come and take me away, and it simply never comes. Or it waits till about an hour before I need to be up, on days with early or important appointments. It’s almost clockwork. As I explained to my therapist lately; the noises of the day end up in a large ball of noise that finds its way to the front of my mind just as I get into bed. So it’s front and centre and there’s nothing else blocking its ability to keep me awake with the noise its making. It’s hard to get past that and get into bed and sleep. I would say sleep used to be more of a worry to me than it is now. It’s probably true that my Insomnia at the moment is not massively disturbing, I am finding some ways to sleep of late. But it always feels like it’s there waiting to jump on me down a dark alleyway at any random point in time.

4. In every situation, the worst scenario is your biggest thought

Instead of enjoying the moment as it is, you can’t help picturing and convincing yourself that the worst scenario is inevitable. If it’s a first date, you are convinced that something will go terribly wrong. If you get sick, you always manage to connect the symptoms to the worst diseases you can imagine. It’s as if your mind tricks you into believing that nothing can go right.

I don’t agree so much with this particular point, but I can see where they are coming from. First of all… I don’t date, so there’s that example discarded! I am sometimes my own worst enemy when it comes to thinking there are things wrong with me. But more than anything I would put it down to pure curiosity rather than obsession research. But that’s an entirely different topic!

5. You rewind conversations in your head – over and over again

No matter how well a conversation went with somebody, you always replay that conversation in your head fearing that you may have said something wrong. That’s why you try to avoid confrontation at all cost. This constant rewinding seems to be able to haunt you until it starts chipping a hole from the inside. You always have to remind yourself that it’s your anxiety talking and that there is most certainly nothing wrong with what you have said in the first place.

Yes, I often take the conversation and from inside my head have it again and again, over and over, processing and reprocessing everything, from every angle. I often believe I’ve said something wrong. I try so hard to avoid the confrontations in life, as they seem to affect me so much more than they do the other person. And that’s simply not fair. Having to deal with that as well as processing what was or wasn’t said. It’s too much to deal with sometimes. I find it hard to tell myself that it is the anxiety talking, because when I say it out loud, it just sounds so stupid to me. I’ve never, ever felt this way before. Not even the deepest depths of depression compare to the way anxiety makes me feel.

6. When someone shows concern about you, you become even more worried about the same thing

If someone notices that you are not OK and shows concern, your anxiety grows even more. The thing is, when you hear someone asking if you are alright, it makes you fear even more for yourself and your state. You think – if it has become noticeable, then there has to be more to it than I thought. This makes you feel worse than you did.

Again, I am not sure I fully agree with this one, but I would change it slightly to be more of a ‘I get worried that people can’t see how bad I think I am doing’. I guess I fear that I’ve become so good at adapting to how I am feeling, and so good at hiding it from others, that others cannot see it at all, and I am not sure that’s a good thing.

7. You believe that you are to blame if someone doesn’t reply right away

When communicating with people, be it your significant other, a friend or a relative, if they don’t respond immediately, you start thinking that you may have said or done something wrong. However, you should stop and consider that they may be in the middle of something that takes up their attention, or that they are just bad at communicating.

Yes, and this is a silly one, and I know it. But I have felt these feelings in the past. If I message someone and they don’t reply back instantly, I do tend to feel that perhaps I have done something or said something wrong. It doesn’t always register that they might just be busy with their own shit in their lives. It’s not a selfish thing, it’s not that I think everyone should reply instantly (that would be selfish), it’s just the inner workings of my mind that keep me from seeing the wood from the trees on this one.

8. You are experiencing a breakdown when the future comes as a topic

While most people look forward to the future and make plans for the future, your view on the future is making you feel intimidated and frustrated. Experiencing the present so hard makes you think how hard and daunting the future may be. This makes you retreat and hide from the thought of it.

Again I don’t agree so much on this one, about the future in general. The future doesn’t really scare me. I know pretty much what my immediate future encapsulates, and it’s not good or positive. I don’t see any positives in life at the moment. Getting through every day as it comes has been the way I have survived since June 2019. It’s how I continue to survive. I cannot plan anything, I don’t have the resources, I don’t have the time, the money or the mental freedom to experience ‘a future’ as such. But what it also does is dampen down any thoughts that I might entertain for a brighter future. So any future plans that I might come up with, tend to dissipate as quickly as they are formed. It’s a pointless waste of time and energy.

9. You always compare your success to others who are your age

Although you may not want to compare yourself to others, your anxiety makes you scour through Facebook and stay up to date with all the successful things your peers have done. Your worries are not that they have managed to succeed, but if you are ever going to succeed in your life like they have.

Yes I am guilty of doing this too. But I would say I tend to compare where I was in the past, and at past ages to where the younger of my friends are at the same stage of their lives. It’s not so much for me about comparing myself to others of the same age. I am, I believe at a strange age. Most other people of my age are married, or have families, careers and some sort of life-plan that they are following. I have none of that. The younger of my friends too, thinking about it, have much more than I do in the way of organised structure about their lives. – What the fuck happened to me? Where’s all that for me? – As I am sure you could imagine, I could drive myself crazy thinking about that stuff all day every day. So, we won’t go there.

10. You obsess too much over every mistake you make by beating yourself up over it

The worst scenario is making a mistake at work. The thoughts that will consume you afterwards are tremendously difficult to handle. Although you strive to perfect whatever you are doing, mistakes can occur, which is natural. Unfortunately, your anxiety doesn’t know that. In such cases, it becomes your worst enemy.

I think my friends more than me would notice that I do this more often than not. I do find myself telling myself off for thinking so hard and being so hard on myself about small mistakes. But when the progress you make in life is small, then surely the mistakes are going to be the same life-size size. I often sleep in more than I want to, and I end up beating myself up for sleeping in and wasting the days. When if it’s what my body needs (the sleep) it’s not exactly a waste is it. I do this a lot, I just don’t always notice I am doing it to myself.

11. Sometimes, you feel too mentally and physically exhausted to get out of bed

Anxiety burns up most of your energy, both mentally and physically. That’s why it can happen that you cannot function properly and you just want to remain in bed and leave yourself drown in the sheets.This paralysis comes as a result of the overwhelming experiences due to your anxiety.

Yes I find that if I do get to get some sleep, often I will sleep in the morning after, and still not feel any more rested. I will still not have the inner spirit to get out of bed and keep going.  Definitely in a mental capacity, I feel exhausted and unable to get out of bed. Sometimes it really is a great effort. Sometimes it comes as a real shock too, its not always following a good or bad night’s sleep. It feels so random to actually control or get a grip of. This can be particularly bad if I am coming out of a night of night terrors, or a strong insomnia attack.

So there we go, 11 Things Others (and I) don’t realise I do due to Anxiety. High functioning or otherwise. Sometimes I feel I flip between high functioning and not quite rapidly. Lately I have been fighting off some bi-polar tendencies, which is a little more worrying that perhaps it might seem. It’s not a road I want to be finding myself navigating down. I am already deep into the spiral, I am not sure how much twistier I can get. All in all however, I still don’t feel like I have hit the bottom of the pit as yet. I feel there is potential to still slip further.

But that’s enough for now, my fingers, eyes, brain etc are all tired. Thanks for reading.