The family party is over, everybody who was straggling at the end of the night has left, most people took the hint that it was time to get to fuck and go to bed but not your Aunty Mary. Nope no Mary, she’s still in the kitchen pouring herself another gin and tonic and trying to sing ‘what’s love got to do with it?’ She doesn’t seem to care that you’ve turned out all the other lights in the house and are standing beside her in your pyjamas. It’s either no hints taken, or no fucks given. Mary’s got balls and a neck that’s as brass as they come. That’s plenty though hen, you need to go - taxi for Mary!
Anxiety to me is my version of Aunty Mary. A right pain in the arse that pushes me to breaking point before I eventually snap or crumble. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got a good handle on my anxiety now, but I wanted to share four things that anxiety has presented me with over the years:
Avoidance Issues – I have made literally a million excuses over the years not to do something due to anxiety. Anxiety over meeting new people, visiting a new place, possibly learning a skill, whatever. There have been times it overwhelmed me so much it felt debilitating and days where I just couldn’t put myself through the stress of dealing with everything that came with it, so I’d avoid certain situations and miss out on things, which only added to me feeling shitty.
Sweating – The fucking sweat honestly! For some weird reason I used to pride myself on the fact that I never ever had sweaty hands. Ever. No melting hot sun or high cardio exercise could get those bad boys to create a drip of sweat (ideal for all the hand shaking I was doing, except no I wasn’t so no benefit really eh?!). Even now actually I’m feeling like a right smug git about my non sweaty hands. On the negative side though when anxiety hit hard and a panic attack situation would arise the rest of my body looked like I had bathed in my own clothes so, you know – wasn’t so smug then.
Upset Stomach – We know what that is right? we don’t need any inside info there. Not a chance am I going into detail here, I’m not ready for that. All I will say about it is, that due to an upset stomach or the feeling of one, caused by anxiety (usually a new situation) on more than one occasion I have got off a bus/train in the middle of nowhere thinking I was better off outside feeling this way. Better off out my comfort zone, in the wrong side of town, walking for miles (seriously fuck you for that anxiety). I have caused a scene on an aeroplane by trying to get off before take-off (that was an absolute riddy and I’m actually still mortified about that – sorry easy jet)
Procrastination – I often refer to myself as a master procrastinator because I am. I have to really focus sometimes to get shit done, even the good/fun stuff. Reason being it requires me to concentrate, requires me to ask something of myself, requires me to show I can do something and when you have anxiety your brain starts telling you that you can’t do those things, at least not very well. So, you put them off for fear of failing and then when you do get round to doing them, you realise it wasn’t worth the worry and that anxiety is a little shit.
When I was younger I developed two strange coping strategies to try manage my anxiety and the stress of it. I don’t recommend either of them. They were not effective strategies and I’ve worked hard trying to avoid falling back into the pattern of using them. I used to:
Sit on one of my legs during what I felt were awkward situations with other people. For instance, during a professional development course one day, I was so nervous - new people, new place, new skills etc. so, I sat on my leg, one tucked under my bum as you do. I don’t know why I thought this helped but I did. Everything was all well and good until I had to walk up to get something from the presenter and my dead leg played the ‘dead’ part really well and I fucking fell over in front of everyone (pretty embarrassing) and I lied and said I tripped, which only built my anxiety up more and more cause I felt like I was in a web of lies and would get found out. Pure daft overthinking at it’s best. My leg should’ve won an Oscar for that performance that day (or lack there of!).
The other thing I did was pick at my scalp. I know, I know it’s minging and my god did all my friends and family tell me that on a daily basis but years ago at the time I couldn’t stop. I felt it soothed me when I was anxious. There was no deterrent to it either. My dad would shout and ball at me if he caught me picking, my mum was right bloody handy with her slipper (lucky for me it was a wee fluffy number), people asking me or thinking I had nits (which by the way – people get headlice, get over it) but on these occasions I didn’t, I only looked like I did, even having to use Polytar shampoo from the doctor (which smelled of shite). All these things which were meant to stop me picking didn’t. Which leads me onto…
OCD – I developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder due to my anxiety and after many conversations with the doctor it turned out that picking at my scalp was a result of OCD. BOOM there you go, I couldn’t help it mum so get your slipper to fuck (just kidding, she would legit knock me out if I ever told her to get to fuck). But having OCD be as present as it was when I was younger was a strange time when I look back. Some of things I did back then make me feel like I must have been crazy but at the time they made so much sense. Maybe do another more in-depth post about OCD sometime, but here’s a few things I would do when it got hold of me:
Throw away any odd number of food/drinks that were in the fridge or cupboard. If I bought six cans of diet coke and drank one but didn’t want another one on the same night, I’d pour one away so I could to bed happy knowing there was an even number of diet cokes left in fridge. I would never do that now, I don’t give a flying fuck how many diet cokes are in the fridge these days but when I was much younger that stuff mattered.
Once when I was 17 I threw my boyfriend out my house (not physically) because he didn’t use a coaster (I was coaster daft) and the condensation from his drink was on the table. I mean, c’mon to fuck right? At that age some girls boyfriends were avoiding using condoms and yet here I was throwing a hissy fit because he didn’t use a coaster. I should’ve counted myself lucky.
I would repeatedly fluff the cushions in my house so they looked ‘right’ but not in a ‘this is part of my interior style’ kind of way, no more like a military camp operation where I was punishing the cushions for disobeying me. Many years later people told me they felt so uncomfortable in my house during those days because they thought I was ‘just a neat freak’ and they were scared they’d make a mess, which is really sad and I hate that my OCD made people I care about feel that way. Thankfully no more though. Don’t get me wrong, I still like a tidy gaff but I won’t death stare you out if you sit on my cushion.
At this point many years on, I can finally shout “taxi for anxiety” and it along with all it’s little quirks will climb in and drive off for a wee while. Like Aunty Mary it tries to over stay it’s welcome from time to time but one way or another it get’s papped outside.
Thanks for reading folks, let me know your thoughts!