*TW: mental illness, anxiety disorder, ocd, sensations*
[cross posted from Guerrilla Feminism]
My throat feels weird–what if I can’t swallow? What’s going on with my stomach? Am I hungry? Not hungry? What if I throw up? Ow, my back hurts–what is that from? Ugh, I feel super warm, is it warm in here or just me? Do I have a fever? I’m so tired… how am I gonna make it through this day? What if I pass out? My eyes feel so heavy. Is what I’m feeling “normal”?
Welcome to my normal. The above is just a small example of what I deal with on a daily basis. At 17, I was diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder, put on Zoloft, and started seeing a therapist. Eleven years later, and I’m better, I’ve made progress, but it’s a daily struggle.
My anxiety picks favorites: it specifically loves freaking me out about my health and well being. I am constantly “body scanning” (not so mindful when you have health anxiety), and it’s exhausting. It happens without any conscious thought from me. It’s automatic. It’s terrifying.
I feel various bodily sensations throughout the day, much like you do, however, my mind is constantly telling me that I am “in danger” because of what I’m feeling. No sensation goes unnoticed. No feeling unfelt.
I’ve explained this to a few people in my life, and the only people who actually “get” it are those who also have anxiety disorders. I’m looked at as a “freak” or “too sensitive” by those who don’t understand.
Many people in life are not super in touch with their bodies–I am TOO in touch, and my mind rarely tells me I’m “safe” or “normal” (whatever “normal” is).
Do you know what it’s like to live in a constant state of “flight-or-fight”? I wish I didn’t.
I’ve lost friends, lovers, jobs, etc to my anxiety. I used to feel back about it. I used to feel hurt. I realize now that those people, those jobs were fucked up. If someone can’t handle the fact that you have anxiety, then they can’t handle real world shit. Why would I want people like that in my life?
I work really hard to keep my anxiety in check–to keep it soothed. I meditate, practice yoga, exercise, write, take meds, see a therapist, and read countless self-help books.
People see me as “strong”, and I suppose I am, but most do not understand that this “strength” has been developed through years of carrying the heaviness of my anxiety disorder.
Some days, it’s easier to laugh about. Some days, I don’t feel well enough to do so. Some days, it holds me down like I’m prey. And I guess I am in a way… some days.