Fear of the unknown is a paralyzing experience for people with anticipatory anxiety. Imagine a life of perceived catch 22 situations for almost every decision considered, and you might attain some inkling of how the mind of the anxious ticks.
While part of the brain says to strive forward and conquer the world, the other part prattles tauntingly in the background, ‘but if you do that, sh*t is bound to happen.’
Here’s a simplistic example of the tricks the mind is capable of. Take a seemingly simple lifestyle decision like planning a holiday, for example, and I’ll use the fictitious Mrs Anxious as my example. Put yourself in a NORMAL body first, where upon working hard all year you look forward to chillaxing around a pool for a couple of weeks, cocktail in hand, naked waiters at your beck and call…..
Not Mrs Anxious.
Mrs A sees that holiday in a completely different and perverse light. This won’t be a holiday for Mrs A; it will be comparable to the most heinous of middle-age tortures. A minimum of months of worry, lack of sleep and bad temper due to stress. Such will be the impact of the stress caused by this decision, she will most likely talk herself out of that ‘fun’ little holiday before she even pushes the ‘accept’ button on the Virgin website, and certainly before she has planted her flats (her risk assessment said ‘no to high heels, obviously) in the economy section of the plane. She will have mentally encountered and ruminated over every potential pitfall that may or may not befall her on that two weeks of hell. The plane crashing is not her major fear – please, that would be a blessed relief and put her out of the remaining two weeks of misery quickly. The plane crashing is nothing compared to the myriad of irrational fears that will take control of her mind from the minute she makes her booking.
Her thought process might begin its mutation like this:
What if one of the family gets ill and they can’t go on holiday after all? Will she get the money back? Do they have adequate insurance? What inoculations will they need? Has she packed enough preventative medecine?
What if she gets to the airport or hotel and she’s made a mistake with the booking and there is no holiday? What will the family say? Will they ever forgive her? Maybe she has got Alzheimer’s after all.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay at home.
Apply this spaghetti junction mindset to any given situation and you end up with a nutter.
And did I mention that we’re moving?
So, the excitement of being closer to Gap and Top Shop wore off after about an hour.
We’re not going a long way, at least not the distance we undertook the last time we got
our joint mid-life crises itchy feet and crossed the world to a completely different time zone without batting an eyelash.
Before anxiety sunk its talons in.
I should give myself some credit. It was probably a whole twenty-four hours before the anxiety demons began their work and I started fretting over whether the furniture would fit through the doors, whether we’d ever make any friends, or if the ADHDer will ultimately conform for his art at Glee school and don ballet tights if required.
But this experience has forced me to recognize that anxiety has been my closest friend for too long now and it is time to regain control before it smothers my freedom of choice and extinguishes fully my thirst for living. Recognition is the easy part; healing, as we all know, is much harder.
Hard to take away years of looking at the world with a half-full glass when that has been accepted as the norm, without realisation. Hard to retrieve the confidence that you took for granted when you were younger and hadn’t a care in the world; when seemingly nothing could go wrong.
When I Facebook (because Facebooking is a verb now, in case you hadn’t realised), it’s not the friends with perfect houses, perfect children and botoxed faces that I envy now, it is the ones who are free to embrace life and happiness fully, without trepidation, no matter how hard it is. I want that freedom. I envy that friend who on paper has less, yet spiritually has so much more.
I want to be able to stop worrying about what will go wrong at any given moment. I want to be able to lay myself bare, free my mind of worry and stop being so f*cking morose. It’s like giving up smoking all over again, only this time it should be easier because I will be shedding something that makes me miserable.
This New Year begins with a personal crusade to eradicate the demons before they engulf me.
But did I mention that there aren’t any fly screens in our new home so we obviously won’t be able to open the windows on hot days in case of snooping Huntsmen……and apparently the width of the front door is unusually narrow and I’m not sure that my beautiful oak bookcase that we bought………