Some days, I know I have anxiety.
On other days, I think I have anxiety.
Then there are the days when I don’t have anxiety at all. Nothing is wrong. Nothing happens. Absolutely everything is fine.
Today … well, it’s one of those days where I KNOW I have anxiety. So, I decided to talk about it. People don’t talk about it enough. I don’t talk about it enough.
My anxiety presents itself in different forms depending on what’s going on around me. I had a particularly horrific situation with a glass bottle-waving junkie on my actual front doorstep, so my doorbell now gives me heart palpitations-style anxiety every time it ding-dongs. Unless I know EXACTLY who is on the other side of the door, I don’t open it. I can’t. I have one response to the doorbell and that’s frozen-with-fear. Of course, that gets me into trouble from time to time, usually when it comes to parcel deliveries. If I’m home alone, there’s a pretty good chance I won’t open the door, even when I know it’s just a delivery person. My hands shake too much to even grip the door handle and open it – that’s NOT an exaggeration.
My phone is a constant source of anxiety too. I have a weird relationship with it. It goes off all the time, mostly for work because the people I know — actually know — don’t pick up the phone to talk to me that often. And if they do contact me, it’s usually because something is wrong. If I’m having a good day and anxiety isn’t making me feel like something bad is going to happen constantly, picking up the phone and responding to notifications is no big deal. I can call my grandfather back. I can respond to Twitter notifications. I can post something on Instagram. I can do any-fucking-thing.
But then there are the bad days, and those fuckers can L-A-S-T. There have been times I’ve needed to clear over three thousand emails from my inbox, a result of not reading or responding to a single one for months. I can leave Twitter until it has hundreds of notifications, and Facebook too. I can avoid Instagram for actual weeks at a time, sometimes months, not wanting to be reminded of just how great everyone else’s life is. Because that’s all Instagram is for me — boast central for people that have better lives.
And then Bear thinks I’m hiding something because I never respond to my messages or notifications in front of him.
“Aren’t you going to answer those Facebook messages?”
“Nope. I’ll do it later.”
I’d probably be the same, to be honest. It is weird, right? Even when I have someone saying to me “Here’s some free shit and you’re going to love it!” I can’t bring myself to answer the email. And I can’t really explain why that is. (P.S. Sorry to all the PR people I’ve ignored. It’s honestly not you … it’s me.)
I just have a problem with people on bad anxiety days — the days I know I have anxiety. I can’t bring myself to muster up whatever strength it takes to act like I’m okay when inside I’m not feeling okay at all. And when I try, I fuck it up. I say the wrong thing, or I just don’t say anything at all, or I don’t say the right things. I forget to do the polite stuff, like say hello. I don’t remember to ask how they are. I forget the important things in their lives. I’m a terrible friend. It’s no wonder people don’t reach for the phone to ask if I’m okay. It’s a vicious cycle. Even if they were to text or call me I probably wouldn’t respond.
See … I’m a terrible friend.
The thing is, I’m not a terrible friend. I’m a really good one. I used to be, anyway. I’d give my friends my last fiver if they needed it. My doors would always be open to them, as would my couch. I’d have tea on tap for them, and all the cookies and biscuits they could possibly want. I just can’t text or call them back. Or, you know, attend social occasions that aren’t in my house.
Having anxiety feels like I’ve been replaced by a version that’s only half of me. I’ve only got half the conversational skills, half the attention span, half the politeness-capacity. I forget quickly and say offensive things by accident, and sometimes, I don’t know what to say so I just say nothing at all. Every single conversation is exhausting, and proofreading every email/text message/DM a hundred times before I send it takes up what feels like most of my day. It’s for the same reason that I don’t publish blog posts as frequently as I’d like. Or share all the tweets I type out. It all feels not quite ready. Unfinished. With room for improvement.
Everything seems to annoy me too. Literally … everything. I’m too easily offended or embarrassed, or I get the wrong end of the stick. And then, when I get the RIGHT end of the stick and the other person has actually been offensive or stepped out of line, I question my reasoning for being offended. Was what they said really that bad? Did they mean it that way? Do I really have a right to be upset about this?
I guess that’s why I avoid conversations and keep myself to myself. It’s easier than having my words or actions completely misconstrued like they have been so many times before. The ending of my friendship with Bestie was shocking and sad and absolutely not something I was prepared for – all because he completely misconstrued everything I did, and I don’t want to go through that again with another BFF of 15+ years. I CAN’T go through that again. It was soul-destroying. It’s been almost three years since that happened and I still find myself questioning every conversation we ever had, every event we ever went to together, and every feeling that he managed to completely twist and contort. I know I didn’t lead him on … but that doesn’t stop me questioning everything.
And then we’re right back to square one. Do I *really* have anxiety and can’t cope with friends/people/anyone on bad days … or am I just a shit person? A shit friend? Can I just snap myself out of it? Should I try? Do I really need to explain myself at all?
Welcome to my anxiety.