Anxiety is a strange animal. It’s sometimes benign, soundly sleeping in its cave, harmless except for the occasional twitch of reminder. Other times, it is super loud, growling beneath the surface of my stomach, shivering my hands, stealing my oxygen, bugging my eyes a bit as I bite the inside of my mouth, waiting for it to eventually pass, for its return to dormancy.
You are anxious? You seem so confident. I hear this a lot, people are quite amazed that someone so outgoing (read: obnoxious) as me can suffer from such an affliction. I get asked to emcee weddings, to make random speeches or toasts, to facilitate or organize groups, everything that a confident person can do with ease. But beneath this veil of perceived confidence, I am a shivering mess. I feel inadequate, feckless and completely terrified of being judged or laughed at. And thereby completely ruining what typically would be a fun or entertaining experience.
While most of these described experiences are personal in nature, it obviously comes into play at work. Here I fight it better because the consequences are more severe. I hate presenting, but struggle through it because being in public relations means you have to speak in public. Imagine that. Funny thing is, I am fine chiming in a discussion about a variety of topics, but give me an appointed time to speak or present and I freak out.
The anticipation is almost debilitating and even once forced me to stop in the middle and make a break to the bathroom to catch my breath and try not to pass out. Luckily my ability to shroud my anxiety in this instance with a claim of stomach upset prevented any repercussions. But it just enhanced the feeling the next time I had to speak as anxiety is also a cannibal with tasty limbs that keep growing back.
Crowded subways can trigger it, praying for the next stop to arrive and then fighting so hard not to jump out the door at the last minute before heading back into the tunnel. Riding elevators can trigger it, thinking what if it stopped between floors and I had to use the bathroom? Bizarre, I know, but this is what I think about and can’t find the off switch.
I used to not be able to drive on highways as the swell of anxiety was too strong, but I did overcome this one because Steph was sick of driving all the time. I also took it as a personal challenge to conquer this particular anxiety problem. It still comes back in brief snippets, but a couple of deep breaths and lane changes and I’m fine.
I know I am not alone. My mother suffers from it and bears the increased burden as she thinks it her fault that I have my own anxiety issues. I tried various medications but some had adverse side effects that I was not willing to put up with long term (hello wet noodle!). Others were just spot solutions that worked, but felt like I was relying on them too much.
Hudson shows occasional signs of heightened anxiety so I am constantly watching to see if it is escalating.