Life has been difficult lately. So bloody difficult. I’ve been overwhelmed and struggling to get through each day. Some days are easier than others. Some days I feel OK, normal, or as normal as I’ve ever been. But lots of days have just been about getting through, doing what needs to be done and nothing else. Sometimes just getting out of bed can feel a success.
I’ve never previously had anxiety, but now I feel it bubbling up in my chest, for no apparent reason, as if someone has put a squirt of washing up liquid into a stream of hot running water and I feel each bubble rising up gathering together in my chest. It threatens to take my breath and suffocate me. When this happens nothing seems to calm it. I can go for a walk to distract myself slightly, I can run, but the bubbles of anxiety are always there, just below the surface. Waiting.
No one thing has caused this, I mean I can pinpoint events that made it swell up into a stream of unstoppable molten lava; traumatic events, sad events, heartbroken moments that all came together into the perfect recipe for anxiety bubbles, but none of these things could have done this on their own. A perfect mess has happened and its overwhelming. Some days I can control it better than others. Sometimes I can hide the mess from everyone. The turmoil inside me hidden by whatever camouflage I have found to dress up the anxiety, but its always there, like a grey cloud on a perfect day.
And what I have learned is that I’m good at hiding it. I’ve probably been hiding it without realising it for years. Every time I have risen to another difficulty in life I have actually just been adding a layer of camouflage to the volcano in my chest. Hiding it so that no one can see. Occasionally it breaks through and wells up in my eyes breaking cover.
And also I have learned that it is mine to deal with. Nobody else knows that it’s there most of the time, even if I decide to tell them, they don’t understand the way it is holding me captive, sucking the joy out of moments that should be joyful. Keeping it hidden has become a full time job. In fact I have stopped going to work as I can’t do my job and control the bubbles.
I’ve learned that it is impossible to care enough for someone who has anxiety. Because they will examine everything and over analyse it until it is out of all proportion to the intent. They will feel better in your company and then fall back to pieces the moment that you leave. They will tell you that they are OK, even as every little piece of them is falling into tiny fragments at their feet.
But actually, I’ve learned that that’s OK. You may feel that supporting someone with anxiety is a fruitless and thankless task, but I’ve also learned, the hard way, that even if they fall apart after you’ve spent 5 hours counselling them and comforting them, that is 5 hours that they felt better. That is 5 whole hours that they were able to force that bubbling molten lava back inside, and I live in hope that one day, I will be able to push it back and lock it away forever.