7:00 am: Wake up exhausted, restless and hit immediately by a tsunami of paralyzing anxiety.
7:13 am: Still horizontal, possibly wrapped in my comforter like a soggy, sweat-covered tortilla trying to achieve rhythmic breathing.
7:36 am: Finally drag my near-lifeless body out of bed and directly into the bathroom.
7:49 am: Emerge from the bathroom and contemplate returning to bed before eventually getting ready.
This is the morning routine I’ve fallen into for the past month. This is what my life is reduced to when I let my anxiety win. For me, anxiety is at its peak in the morning. The fear of what the day is going to do to me is unbearable. There is a monster in my chest bursting through and screaming at me to run for cover, that I won’t make it, nothing is going to be okay. My stomach knots itself to the point of puking and then I breathe.
Day after day I have to battle my inner turmoil in order to leave my house. Usually, if I make it to the car and put on the music loud enough or call someone I love, the cruel voice of my anxiety is drowned out long enough to get into the office.
This is not a way to live.
What does it feel like not to jolt awake, breath knocked out of you, heart racing? How do you manage to sleep through the night? These are questions I want to ask ‘normal’ people. Often I find that I am staring at them as if through a foggy glass in the winter time, like an orphan viewing a happy family… or a group of friends all in on a secret I’m not a part of.
The irony of mental health issues is that you can be a high-functioning, successful, enthusiastic member of society while coping with severe symptoms. Many people with anxiety suffer silently, in our early waking hours or long after others are blissfully sleeping. During the day, our monsters are covered with bright smiles and firm handshakes.
I am trying to cope. I am trying to improve my quality of life in the few hours a day I still call mine. I make it a point to tilt my head back and laugh. Every afternoon I take time to read calming quotes and passages, to listen to the rain and to remember how fortunate I am. I am. I am grateful. I have a job, a support group, a home overlooking a bay off the Pacific Ocean. My anxiety doesn’t care about that, but I do.
I will keep battling every morning. I will change my routine. I will force myself to write about my problems. I will get better.