The following is a conversation I imagine my anxiety would have with me, if it happened to be a real person. For background reference, I've been going through a pretty stressful time at work lately (organising your first event that also involves local TV and press will do that to you) and it just made me aware of how much my anxiety has been cranked up over the past few weeks. So, to help me destress, I came up with the following short story on the spur of the moment. Please, if you suffer from anxiety or know someone who is, by all means share this post and have a good laugh over it - after all, laughter is the best medicine (no matter what my anxiety tries to convince me otherwise), and we all know how hard it can be to raise a simple smile when you're suffering from anxiety.
"Ah, good morning Rachel, how are you today? Pretty good? Well, let's see if we can do something about that. You say you've been sleeping better lately? Not as many disturbing thoughts? Hmm, that's not quite right - I see here that back in university you were given our Anxiety 101 package deal for beginners, which included; panic attacks, a metallic taste in your mouth (to be taken daily) heart palpitations, a persistent feeling of 'unreality' and a nice healthy dose of fatigue? Ah! I see here that you also managed to take advantage of our exclusive offer of 'Disturbing Thoughts To Keep You Awake At Night And Obsess Over For Years To Come' - and how have you been finding that? Does it work? Good.
Hmm...looking at your notes, I can actually see that your stock of disturbing and obsessive thoughts have been dwindling somewhat lately, is that true? You've been feeling happier and calmer in your every day life? Well, I can offer you an anxiety upgrade to fix that if you like? How about our new, 'Rehash Old Thoughts And Make You Obsess Over Them In A New Light' package? Why don't you try our free trial for the next couple of weeks and see how you get on? And while you're here, could I also interest you in a brand new deal, put together just for you? Now, I know you tend to have migraines after a stressful period, so I think I have just the ticket - why not try our 'All-day Stress Headache That Will Also Wake You Up At Night With A Pounding Headache And Disturb Your Sleep So Your Anxious Thoughts Return' package? Does that sound like something you'd be interested in? No? Well, why don't you try it for a couple of weeks and just see how you get on.
Now, your brain told me you've got a very important event coming up - how exciting! Our new package will be just the thing! The All-Day Headache is a new concept that we're trialling just for you - you seemed to have coped rather well with everything else we've thrown at you, so we thought it was high time we gave you a different anxiety symptom to try - and since you're a long term customer, I'll also throw in our tie-in 'Wake Up Early In The Morning, Paralysed By Anxious Thoughts' deal for free too - I know how much you've missed those!
What's that? You don't want to try our new headache deal? But Rachel, how will your brain know you're throughly prepared for your big event, if you don't obsess over it over the weekend and wake up sweating in the night?! Why, it would almost be like you're completely calm and in control, and we can't have that! What on earth would your primeval brain do with itself?! Are you 100% completely sure you don't want to take advantage of this fantastic offer? Think about it carefully - would you rather wake up well-rested and happy, or grumpy and irritable because your sleep has been disturbed so much, BUT you'll have made mental notes on every single tiny thing that you have to do, even though you already wrote it down earlier in the day?
Since you're so exhausted at the moment, Rachel, I think I'm going to go ahead and order this brand new offer for you anyway, since you're clearly too tired to make rational decisions right now. We'll meet again in a few days time and see how you're getting on. Enjoy the headaches! And please, do fill out this questionnaire on your way out rating me on a scale of 1-10 of how much I disturb your life. See you soon, Rachel! Bye bye!"
Writing about my anxiety has been strangely therapeutic - I've never really done it before, but you know what? I've really had enough this week. Enough of my anxiety, enough of the constant headaches and enough of keeping silent about something I should've spoken up about a long time ago. So there you have it - there's my anxiety laid out it's all it's ugly glory. I really hope someone out there - whether you've been suffering from anxiety for years like me, or you've just started - finds this useful to know that you are not alone. Anxiety can take many different forms, and what might manifest itself in one person, might not show up in another, but that doesn't make it any less real or any less scary.
So, to sign off before I start a mega-rant about anxiety and how much it sucks, I just want you all to know - no matter what your anxiety tries to tell you, or how much it tries to drag you down, you are fucking awesome and you can do this. I totally, 100%, believe in you.
What are your own experiences of anxiety? Do you stress out more over big events, or does it tend to show up all-year round? What helps you to deal with your anxiety?