My Tragic Relationship with Anxiety: Our First Date
Anxiety: It wasn't always like this. Was it?
Imagine you're dating your anxiety disorder. Yes, you're in a relationship with your anxiety disorder. Scary, isn't it?! Now here's how one gets into this mess.
When anxiety and I first got together, things seemed OK. The first date was a bit awkward - anxiety nitpicked about the food but other than that it went well. Anxiety insisted on a second date and I thought, well, why not? Quite right about the food, really.
It was a little up and down, I admit. But perhaps I was to blame? I make so very many mistakes. Relationships aren't easy, you know. Anxiety told me that. But pretty soon it started telling me that things I knew were easy, weren't. That what I did right wasn't quite right enough. I heard it out, and often enough it was true: I could've done better; Anxiety was telling me I had potential. That's not so bad, is it?
Warped Relationship between Anxiety and Your Emotions
Then the excuses started. Oh I'd be invited out to dinner, to a friend's house, to a meeting, and anxiety would start in. I couldn't just leave it at home. Could I?
So I don't tell you, as I politely decline the invitation, that it's because this very loud voice in my head is telling me I'm totally devoid of value, humanity, and grace. No, no, I tell you it's because I have a headache, or I'm busy, things are happening too fast. You see that, don't you? That's what you try to tell anxiety: it's out of control. The relationship's moving too fast. Can't we just slow things down a little? Everything would be fine, back to normal -then.
Only, as it happens, it feels like panic is taking over your body. When did that start to happen, exactly?!
Because you know the relationship with anxiety wasn't always so rigid. You didn't always feel trapped, and getting through the days didn't take so much out of you. Oh but the rules about what you can and can't do in the presence of panic, and what you must do to avoid anxiety stepping in and taking you in hand. Yes, you remember the rules, don't you? Shake off the last round, as if it didn't really bother you. It's over now. It's fine. It'll never happen again. Anxiety just had a bad day.
Your Relationship to Anxiety Changes You
There's a certain honeymoon period, somewhere between feeling okay, and falling back down again. A division that happens, for a lot of people with anxiety disorders, that if they look they can identify: It wasn't a problem until...
I started to trust fear more than I trusted myself.
Anxiety and I made a good pair because, once upon a time, we were evenly matched. The odd fight didn't matter when it seemed like we had shared perspectives, and goals (You look at what it predicts, and a fair amount of the time it's right).
Anxiety, Why Did It Work Out This Way?
Because you trust all the little things that make a relationship work. Because you don't expect your emotions to hand you a bottle of terror and say, "drink". That kind of thing catches you unawares.
And if anxiety's right about whatever horror it predicted, you'll hear a little 'Gotcha' if you listen close enough.
White, K. (2011, April 25). My Tragic Relationship with Anxiety: Our First Date, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2011/04/when-anxiety-and-i-first-met
Author: Kate White
Hi Kate White. I really enjoy your writing. I read that people with anxiety are usually really creative and have good imaginations. This is why we end up not being able to control our anxiety. Our overactive imaginations end up running wild. Your creative ways of describing your struggles with anxiety help me understand my own anxiety in a deeper and more meaningful way. Thank you.
I would love to know when you do this,thanks
Cute writing but I know the terror that strikes. I was working with an anxiety patient yesterday-at an Easter party. His hands were going numb and he was disassociating. My son, Josh, our anxiety coach & husband Dr. Ron Meyers explained why these things were happening to him. He was able to settle down and relax a little since he knew we had been where he was (not the same exact symptoms-but ours felt really bad too). We are starting an anxiety support/info page on facebook soon & offering free course. Break Free From Anxiety. If you "like" now, you'll be the first to know when starts.