You're going to screw this up.
You're going to fail.
There's no way you're going to get this right.
Anxiety is fun, because these are the things that go through my head when I'm planning dinner sometimes.
Anxiety is not like a voice in your head, whispering gently. It's a voice shouting inside your head, and the voice echoes off your skull and reverbs, and it screams all of the thoughts you don't want to think.
I was literally planning dinner tonight and I almost broke down in tears because I was convinced
- I didn't know how to cook anything
- I was going to burn whatever we ate
- I didn't know the right things to cook to make my partner happy
- I was going to disappoint her
- I was going to disappoint her kids
- I used to be good at cooking, but now I'm lazy and she's going to resent how lazy I am.
Anxiety is hard to explain to someone who doesn't experience it. It's not just feeling nervous about tough decisions. It's feeling nervous about small, inconsequential things. What kind of coffee should I get? Is this a good shirt for work? Which tv show should we watch before we go to bed?
My breathing gets shallow. I find it hard to think. I can't respond to questions because of the swirl of emotions running through my head. My heart begins racing. I can feel it racing, right now, just writing about this.
Sometimes, I just think I'll take a nap and when I wake up, everything will be better. Or, different, anyway. Sleep is a coping mechanism. (Sadly, it's not an option at work. Usually.)
I take medication that makes it possible to get through the day. I take Wellbutrin. Before that, I took Zoloft. Before I did, I had panic attacks that would cause me to stare at my phone for hours, sweating bullets, knowing that I had to make phone calls and being terrified that I was going to screw them up. So I did nothing. I sat, paralyzed, overwhelmed.
Happy ending: I did make dinner, my partner was happy, the kids ate, the end. All is well. I got through it.