*It is Mental Health Awareness Week. In light of that, this week’s posts will be all about mental health, so check in every day for more like this*
Seeing as it is Mental Health Awareness week, I thought I’d start off by sharing how my anxiety operates in my life. I’m happy to say that my anxiety has now become more of a passenger in my life, rather than the driver steering the proverbial car. But it is still there. And sometimes it reaches for the wheel and steers me straight into a tree…
So, here’s some insight into the world of anxiety that is personal to me.
What triggers my anxiety
When I know I have to do something, even things as small as bowling or talking, I get anxious. Even though oftentimes, I know I can do things (I’m a decent bowler), I still get anxious about the coming event.
I think this boils down to my fear that I’ll underperform. That I’m not good enough. That I’ll embarrass myself or let myself down.
Public Spaces and Groups
I don’t like being out in public for too long. I am a home person! A hermit! I’m introverted so naturally, I am happier and more comfortable alone and in my own quiet space. But I will get anxious just thinking about having to be out in public for too long, or in a group setting for a long time, too.
(I have clinically diagnosed Social Anxiety)
Long time trapped with people
Similar to the above, I get anxious whenever I have to spend a long time with people, even people I know well or like or love. This is things like meals, parties, activities, clubs, house gatherings, schooling, etc.
I cannot even begin to describe how much the fear of the future used to cripple me. I used to have panic attacks and sobbing crying fits in my mom’s arms whenever I thought about how she was going to die, and my grandparents were going to die, and what I would do if my partner died young and left me alone with our kids like my father did with my mother.
I used to literally grieve for people that weren’t dead or sick at all.
Thankfully, I don’t get like that anymore. I still worry about it, though. It’s weird because the far-future seems fine to me. I know I’ll have a family, a home, and a living from my writing in the far-future, but I’m scared and unsure about the time in-between. What I’ll do. What I’ll go through. The pain. The loss. The pitfalls.
Like I know the end goal, but I constantly worry to the point of intense anxiety about how to get there.
Lack of control
Duh, anyone with anxiety fears the loss or lack of control. I think that’s fundamentally what it’s about. If we feel out of control, unsure, or not enough, we panic.
Speaking on my podcast, and when I used to do my YouTube videos, I get anxious. Talking makes me breathless when I know someone is listening or that I’m saying something important. My chest is tight and my breaths are laboured.
I feel anxious around people who are very confident, charismatic, creative, ambitious, successful, and all that. Big personalities make me ill at ease. I think it comes down to comparison and feeling less-than.
My Social Anxiety was very much brought on by the fear that I am boring and that I’m not good enough – myself and my therapist surmised this long ago. And so, being around people who seem so cool and confident really brings up that Core Belief that I have about myself.
This is a funny one, but I do get anxious when questioned. Again, it comes down to the fear of saying the wrong thing, poorly articulating myself, or fear that I’m wrong in what I’m saying.
We can’t avoid being questioned and of course, if I’m happy with my life or my decisions then I shouldn’t fear being questioned. But I do. Because how can I be sure that I’ve made the right decisions? Only when looking back can we know for sure, right?
And I don’t know, I guess I worry that people won’t understand what I feel or why I’ve done things, and so I get anxious when I’m being questioned or know that I might be questioned (like at family gatherings/catch-ups).
Tiredness and hunger
This sounds weird, but I get anxious when I’m overtired or really hungry. In fact, I get anxious just thinking about being too tired or hungry, too! I’d love to explain it, but I’m not sure where it came from.
I get anxious about long car journeys because I’m scared of being tired, hungry, or needing the toilet. I get anxious about quiet rooms – like going to an event to hear someone speak – because I’m scared my belly will rumble. I get anxious about travelling and feeling tired and hungry and how that would ruin the trip.
These are the only examples I have but I get really anxious about being (or anticipating being) too tired or hungry.
Lack of productivity
I beat myself up for not having a productive day. It’s like I’ve tied my self-worth to how much I get done in a day. I think this comes down to the fact that I’m self-employed and I dropped out of university and decided to actively pursue my dream of being a writer. And so, there’s pressure there.
It’s as though I feel watched. Like people would judge and condemn me for having dropped out and having become self-employed if I wasn’t constantly achieving and progressing and making money.
I mean, my reasons for dropping out were more than just one thing (read my university story here if you’re interested). And becoming self-employed wasn’t about thinking I was better than an office job, or so incredibly capable as a writer that I could make it on my own – quite the contrary. But still, I beat myself up and act as if people are watching and judging me, and then I just get anxious and think I’m a failure when I have low productivity days.
Lastly, there’s travel. I love seeing the world and experiencing new things, but gosh does it send my anxiety sky-high! I get anxious about the plane journey (not a great flyer), about the food I’ll eat, about the accommodation, about getting around the city, about other people, about my safety, about being tired and hungry(!), and everything else.
It’s just so hard. As I say, I love it and I’m always glad that I went. I’ll always push myself to go. But the mere thought of it all makes me instantly anxious. And it takes a lot (A LOT!) to get me to go.
There you have it, I think that’s all my anxiety triggers. Would you like to share yours with me? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Take care x
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