It’s a thing

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Roughly three percent of the population has anxiety. To clarify, it’s not “Oh, I feel anxious before a presentation” type of anxiety. It’s ongoing. If you try to tell this to people, you’ll be met with disbelief for the most part.

But, it’s real. I don’t bring it up to whine about it. I bring it up because there are many things in life that are not easy or beautiful, but they are a part of life. The more we deny them, the worse they seem, and the more they take over our life.

I started writing this post last year after reading this Salon article, but then never finished it. It is a short summary of what anxiety feels like, accompanied by a few methods on how to deal with it. It’s a complex subject, but I think it’s a good article for both those who suffer from anxiety and those who don’t know how it feels.

I post about anxiety often because addressing it publicly and trying to think through it to understand it makes it less scary for me. It will likely always exist in my life because that is how I am wired.

What’s interesting to me is thinking about it the way the article calls it out. That is, I’ve always known I wanted to survive. My brain is just in overdrive about it. I want to live and experience what I can out of life. I just have a jenky filter when it comes to knowing when survival instinct is warranted or not, and my job is to sort that out when it happens.

 

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Radio

Do you hear that? What’s that buzzing that I hear coming from the other room? It’s a radio, turned up high enough to hear, but too low to be able to make out what song it is.

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That’s what a day with mild anxiety is like. It’s there, the buzzing, but you can never really make out what the song is. You want to turn it off, but you can’t. It’s in another room that you can’t access.

You go through your day, hearing it on and off. Every time someone says something that irritates you, or you do something wrong, the volume goes up. Sometimes it gets so loud that you can’t concentrate, so much so that you want to scream back at the radio: “Shut the f#$* up!

If you are fortunate, you have learned to stop to remind yourself that it’s just a radio, and the volume goes down. But you still can’t turn it off.

No one else can hear it. They give you funny looks because it seems like you are getting irritated for no reason. Or, they say, “can’t you just switch it off?” Gee, well, hell, why didn’t I think of that?

If you could, you’d go crawl back to bed and shove a pillow on top of your head to block out the noise. But it will be there still. It will always be there, and you know it. In fact, it may even get louder if you give up.

So you go about your day, trying as you can to go through life, blocking out the noise when you can, or making it part of your soundtrack when you are at your creative best. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail horribly. But the radio, it’s always there.