It took me nearly thirty years, but I am finally fairly capable of articulating my anxiety. The way that my skin crawls, the way my chest tightens, and most notably, the way I feel when I crave control of everything.
I am not trying to be neurotic and obsessive. I understand that this is a disease. I get that these are unrealistic and impractical thoughts. I recognize that many (most?) of the feelings I have are preposterous.
But I still have them — and even if they are silly, they are real. They are still my feelings. And I still feel them, oftentimes too strongly.
I write lists and re-write lists. I fully plan for events that will never come to fruition. I keep at least eight budgets to be sure all the bills can be paid and we have enough money for groceries before the next pay period. I rearrange the furniture in my brain, hoping a change of thinking will allow me to feel comfortable in my own space.
I have mentally prepared for the death of my husband. Where the kids and I would live, how we’d manage without him. No, he’s not ill — not even close. I’m just constantly worried, constantly making plans. And it goes beyond my husband — my parents, sister… even my two children.
These are the things I am able to adequately express. I am not, however, capable of telling you when I need help though I’m secretly pleading and begging that you can swoop in and save me.
“I’m exhausted. I was up all night again.” I lie awake until the early morning hours, my legs stiffening and my body sweating. I change clothes and turn the ceiling fan on high. Nothing helps. I sit up to do some deep breathing exercises and I can finally feel my chest loosening. But the second my head hits the pillow, my brain spins so fast I can almost hear the wheel. My body aches of fatigue and I pray I can sleep away these wretched fears and guilt.
“I’ve been puking again.” It’s gotten really bad. My worry has become so heavy that my stomach constantly turns.
“I just need a girl’s night.” Please. Give me an excuse to talk through my ridiculous illusions over some diet coke and carbs.
And then I receive the ever-popular “Let me know if you need anything,” and I shut my eyes so tight and I can feel the tears trickle down my cheeks. “I am,” I scream inside my head. “This is me asking — no, pleading! Begging! I need something. And I don’t even know what it is.”
“Thanks, I will,” is all I can manage to text back. After all, you have your own kids and job and life. And honestly, in all likelihood, I couldn’t handle the guilt. I know I’m a lot to handle, I know it doesn’t make sense.
But I do need help. I just don’t know how to tell you.