Anxiety is…

So it’s six months today since I finally went to the doctors with what turned out to be an anxiety disorder – something I’d been wrestling with, it turns out, for a very, very long time. I never intended for this blog to become an “anxiety blog”; nor is this supposed to be the definitive statement on what anxiety is for everyone who suffers and struggles with it. This is just something I had to write for me: to get off my chest and put into words something of what this has been like for me, what anxiety is in my life and experience.

Anxiety is replaying every conversation, comment and social interaction in the worry that you said something that was taken as offensive, rude or upsetting.

Anxiety is your mind going blank when talking with others, literally being unable to think of anything to say – then being afraid of the silence.

Anxiety is wanting to be part of the conversation or the party, but not knowing how and being afraid of it. Then feeling left out.

Anxiety is not wanting to talk, even to someone close to you, because you just can’t handle conversation today. So you just keep walking (apologies if I’ve ever done that to you – I wasn’t being rude, honest!).

Anxiety is playing up even the smallest obstacle into something huge and either impossibly difficult or terrifying.

Anxiety is the constant worry you’ve let someone down. Or the nagging feeling you’ve done something wrong.

Anxiety is being unable to do anything apart from waste time, because every choice either seems bad or risks missing out on something else.

Anxiety is when you don’t want to be thinking what you’re thinking, but can’t stop and end up just making it worse.

Anxiety is when the noise – just the ordinary, family noise, nothing out-of-the-ordinary – gets almost overwhelming and you just want to be somewhere silent.

Anxiety is the constant thought that they’re laughing at you, or suspicious of you, or think you’re an idiot or whatever – with no justification whatsoever.

Anxiety is what I’m struggling with, wrestling with – but chipping away at. Anxiety is what I may never be cured from, but what I will never be overcome by either.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you” – 1 Peter 5:7, The Bible. I will try, keep trying, to do just that.

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On backlogs, indecision and anxiety

I have a number of backlogs: piles of things I have bought with the intention of reading, watching, playing, listening to and not got round to yet.

My video games backlog, most of which is stored digitally on my PC and XBox One (although it also spans several of the consoles I’ve acquired over the years) must be around about the 100 mark – although that’s not that big compared to some people’s.

My film/TV show backlog encompasses many DVDs, box sets and a few things on Amazon Prime.

And books! I have shelves and piles of books, all waiting to be read.

So why don’t I play/watch/read them? And why buy more of these things when I haven’t finished the ones I’ve got?

Those are really interesting questions – really, really interesting questions…

Wish I knew the answers.

Part of it is (confession time) impulse buying. Part of it is the fear that if you don’t buy it someone else will, or if it’s on sale that the price reduction will end. These are not good reasons.

But I think there’s something else. I am horribly indecisive, terribly so (probably – sorry, couldn’t resist). So when I have some time to watch something or play a game, I spend so much time just trying to decide what to watch or play. Endless scrolling up and down game lists or combing DVD shelves for that one right choice, the one that will bring me the satisfaction that I seek.

The truth is, there is no “one right choice”. And when the truth of that hits home, I will tend to go into my comfort zone – either playing a game I always play or wasting time watching YouTube videos, both of which leave me feeling frustrated and empty, like ending up eating plain toast for breakfast because you couldn’t choose between all the nice things.

I put anxiety in the title of this post because part of me wonders if my anxiety has something to do with this or not. It can make me feel anxious, certainly, having what is essentially too much choice. And I think what makes it worse is the worry of what I’m missing out on by making a choice: if I play this game, I’ll miss out on that game. But then I end up missing out on both!

And that’s one of the many troubles with this anxiety: you end up putting yourself in a no-win situation. You expend so much energy in looking for the perfect solution when there isn’t one. And when you finally realise that there isn’t one and you’ve wasted so much time just to end up in your comfort zone, missing out on the pleasure you could’ve had – the frustration grows deeper.

So then you buy more stuff because this time it will be the one that will be that one right choice – and of course it isn’t, and it just ends up on the backlog.

Fun, eh?

So what’s the answer? Still not sure I know. Probably, hopefully, to try and shut down that anxious part of my brain that says “but what about this” every time I want to enjoy myself. To try and focus on what I’ve chosen to do, rather than worry about the thing I’m not doing.

For some, no doubt, that’s easy. For me – not so much. But I will keep at it, keep trying to enjoy and find fulfilment in what I’m doing in the here and now. And maybe, maybe, the backlogs will start coming down.