You know that feeling you get when you reach the top of a roller coaster?
Your heart is in your throat, beating faster, this kind of nervous excitement building up as you climb that releases when you finally start the ride itself? Imagine if that feeling just stayed. And you weren’t on a roller coaster or anything like that, that’s just something that happens when you’re having a bad day, or a bad weekend.
I really don’t know the specifics about my anxiety. I don’t know why it happens the way it does, I don’t know how to control it, even though I try. I know that the distinction between just run-of-the-mill anxiety that everyone experiences and something like what happens with me is confusing to some, but for me it never has been. Before this set in in any big way, I went to school and did everything like any normal person would. I got nervous, I felt anxiety. First dates, asking a girl out, before tests, before a surgery: all perfectly normal places to feel anxious. You know where it’s not normal? Just sitting in bed reading a favorite book with a nature documentary on in the background. No one should feel like they’re riding a roller coaster and got stuck at the top for any longer than it takes to climb said imaginary coaster.
I call it spiraling when something like this happens. It generally starts with a thought, something standard that depression kinda keeps constant, like “you’re not good enough” or something along those lines. Standard stuff, stuff I’ve learned to do my best to push away and ignore. That thought is implanted and then I come up, as if on autopilot, with dozens of reasons why that thought was spot on and oh, here, have a bunch of other reasons why you’re terrible, think on these, don’t try to push them away, give in. Listen.
This sequence of events would inevitably lead to me losing my shit in some way or another, whether or not it was succumbing to the panic attack or just letting it spiral itself into my depression, it usually ended the same way: with me losing any sense of rationality. I’m happy to say that things aren’t quite that bad anymore. When I feel myself start to spiral, I generally go to the person I’m spiraling over, be it girlfriend or family or work, and say “Look, my anxiety is really bad right now and I don’t know why. Is everything okay?” I’d say roughly 99% of the time there is no reason for me to be concerned.
So what do you do with that? What do you with such an intangible disorder? I need a job and I’ve got mental health issues that make it really hard to find one, and before this I had regular health issues that kept me from working.
It’s not something one can push down or push away, that’s a recipe for absolute disaster. So I’ve just got to figure out how to deal. I’ve got to learn the best possible way to deal with this.
What way is that? Hey, if you hear anything good, let me know.
No, really. If any of you readers struggle with this or any of the other things I’ve talked about in this column over the years are interested in sharing their stories, please get in touch with me. I know how isolating an experience things like anxiety, insomnia, and depression can be. Like…. You can see the world outside and you know if you could just muster enough [courage/strength/bravery] then you know you could improve things. That first step is hard to take. It’s even harder when you don’t have good insurance and pop in on a specialist to help you deal.
So if you’ve felt anything I have. If this article related to you on a personal level, please, I’d love to hear from you. If for nothing more than the reminder that neither you nor I are alone in all of this.