When anxiety makes you anxious

Has your anxiety about having anxiety ever made you feel anxious (yes, that’s a lot of anxiety in that sentence!)

Let me explain a little clearer; have you ever experienced anxiety, calmed down eventually, and then felt anxious about potentially becoming anxious again?

I have. In fact, this happens a lot nowadays.

A few weeks ago my anxiety peaked. I hadn’t seen it in a while, and it returned with vengeance. It was the worst I had felt since ‘Stephanie’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days of 2015‘. It was the all encompassing anxiety that leaves you feeling constantly sick in the stomach, shaky all over, stiff legs and body, coupled with the constant feeling of dread. I struggle to describe anxiety well enough to give people who are unfamiliar with it a realistic insight. But it is completely shit. It’s a relentless exhaustion where you feel like one swift wind gust could knock you over because your strength and energy has completely deteriorated, and you are using every ounce of the energy you have left to stay upright.

In 2015 I spent six months feeling like this nearly every day. That I experienced one day of it two years later scared the absolute shit out of me. ‘I can’t do this again‘, I thought. ‘If this happens again I won’t survive.’

In the days following this experience, I started to think – what if I’m falling off the rails? What if the anxiety comes back? What if I’m going to have another six months of this? And slowly but surely the anxiety became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The thought of potential anxiety fuelled my actual anxiety. It’s like when you can’t sleep, and then you start thinking about how you can’t sleep and what that will mean for the productiveness of your busy day ahead, and then the thought of not getting to sleep is what keeps you awake (thanks brain, you legend!)

I’m pleased to tell you that I’m ok today. The initial anxiety lasted the day, and then little blips flittered in and out over the next few days. I feel better now.

But in the moment when anxiety is at its highest, it’s hard for me to remember that I’m in a completely different situation to what I was in 2015. My supports are greater and I have the tools to cope. I seem to forget these facts in the moment though, when my brain is on overdrive, when I’m sweating, and worried and believing that the world is ending. It’s almost like I assume that even the tiniest speck of anxiety will lead to a full blown breakdown. I need to remind myself that one day of anxiety does not a breakdown make #notallanxiety

In the end I just had to sit with it. Which is less pleasant than it sounds. Sitting with anxiety is like sitting in a small room with someone you don’t know, who invades your personal space, and talks constantly. They are aggressive. And when they talk they just tell you that everything bad that you think will happen will. And they suggest that you think about every possible scenario or outcome of everything you’re worried about to help you stay in control. This does little to help.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. And I guess the point of this post is to let you know that if you have clawed your way back from anxiety-hell but are suffering today, it doesn’t mean you will be in three days time. Or five. Or ten. Sit with it, and eventually that little bastard will pack his bags and will be on his merry way. You got this.

This post is dedicated to the people who reached out to me last Friday night and said lovely things about my blog – you know who you are 🙂

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