And so it begins…The sun sets and the knots in my stomach begin to grow larger than they were during the day. Let’s be honest, when you suffer from anxiety the knots are always there. In some way or another, they are there. Always nervous or concerned or anticipating or overwhelmed about what is going to happen that day, the night, that hour or that moment. This is how I live, in a constant state of worry. I worry about how my daughter is doing in school. She is a very active child, I would almost go so far as to say she may have ADHD, though I am no medical professional to diagnose that, but she seems to exhibit the signs and symptoms. It wouldn’t surprise me if she did have it, my whole family seems to have it. I worry about her ability to focus on anything, her ability to listen and I worry about her behavior. I worry about how she will handle the world when she grows up. I worry that I am not doing right by her as her mother. I worry that I am making the wrong decisions, that I am too strict or not strict enough.
I worry about my marriage. Am I doing enough as a wife? I am doing too much or not enough? Is my husband happy? I worry that I will say or do something that will cause us to fight. I worry that we will fight and he will leave. I worry that I am not enough. I worry that we are not enough. I worry that our family is not enough. That our home is not enough.
I worry about my newborn son. He is only a week old but I worry about him already. Before he was born I would wake up in a cold sweat that something was wrong with him in my belly or that something would go wrong when I went into labor. Now I worry that he is not getting enough sleep. I worry that he is eating too much or not enough. I worry that he will wake up in the middle of the night and wake up everyone else in the house. I worry that when that happens my daughter will wake up and not go back to sleep and that my husband will get angry with us.
I worry about my career. Am I in a career that I want to be in? Is it providing enough for me and my family? Am I doing my job well? Am I doing the very best that I can be doing everyday? What more can I be doing to excel at my job? What does my team need from me to succeed?
I even worry about when I will die. It is my greatest fear. I worry about the day that I will no longer be on this earth to be with my family. I worry that it will happen way too early and that my husband and children will be left all alone. I worry that my time will come and my children will not be prepared for the world. I worry that my husband will not be OK without me. I worry that he WILL be OK without me. I worry that the world will forget me. I worry that my children will not have someone to look after them.
I worry about my extended family. I worry about people that I have never met but have seen in passing or on TV or on a viral video online. I worry about so many things ALL OF THE TIME. And it is truly exhausting.
I use the term worry because it is the easiest way to make you understand the feelings and thoughts that are constantly running through my brain and my heart. All of these thoughts and feelings are not necessarily irrational. Most of them, to some degree, are pretty legitimate. I know that so many have had some of the same thoughts, fears, and worries. What makes it different for me is that fact that I cannot turn these feelings off. They constantly run through me. Run through my brain all day and at times all night. I have stopped sleeping well because my brain doesn’t fully shut off. In fact, the silence of night is when these thoughts are often the loudest. I know deep down that one fight will not cause my husband to leave, or the baby crying in the middle of the night will not make him angry. I know that I am doing the best that I can for my children and they will be grow to be strong, happy and healthy adults. But knowing that does not stop the fear and dread from creeping in just a little. That is just how anxiety works. I cannot control it. It just is.
Living with anxiety is like living with giant knot in the pit of your stomach in constant fear that it will unravel and strangle you.