I’ve been handling my mental health being all over the place for over a decade now, and my anxiety is always the thing seen as ‘least important’, both by those around me and professionals. It sucks, and it’s stupid because between being autistic, having depression, and having anxiety, it’s by far my anxiety that affects my daily life the most.
I want to take a whole blog post to talk about how my anxiety affects my life, to offer support and relatability to those who feel similarly to me, to educate and give better understanding to those who don’t experience it, and also because talking about this kind of stuff makes it easier for me to deal with, and helps remove stigma.
To start us off, I wake up tired. Maybe I stayed up too late for something fun, but usually I stay up late either worrying about things I can’t do anything about anyway, or doing extra work because i get anxious that my boss will fire me from my voluntary position. I know I’m not going to get fired, my boss is great and I’ve worked really hard to make myself an invaluable part of the business, but it’s still something I’m constantly concerned about.
I have a mild panic attack while getting ready almost every day. I have body issues, and getting dressed takes me a long time and is mentally draining. I know it’s silly, but that doesn’t help any.
I’m already tired, I’ve already had a small panic attack, so that makes leaving the house extra hard. I check every window and the back door twice before leaving, then because our front door is a bit dodgy I spend a minute or two outside once I’ve left, just checking that it’s definitely locked, while my neighbours give me funny looks. That could just be the anxiety too, but im pretty sure all my neighbours hate me.
If I’m going somewhere new, that’s a whole new anxiety, and whole new set of panic attacks, but going to work is pretty ‘safe’ for me now that Ive been there over a year and a half. The main downside to my job though, is that some days are completely different to others.
When it’s just me and my boss, or us and the other few team members we have, I’m pretty comfortable. Still anxious, but at a level I’m able to handle well. We have days with clients in the studio though, or filming days, or days people are coming to pick up things they’ve bought, and those days have my anxiety sky high.
I struck really lucky, and my boss has taught me so many ways to act more comfortable and confident than I am, amongst many other things, but I still have a lot of days in work that I find really hard. I’ve had days that I’ve just left half way through, or gone for a cry and a panic attack in the bathroom, which is just embarrassing and unprofessional.
And that brings up a million more anxieties, because as I prove I can do X Y and Z in work, I get more responsibilities. I’m really proud of the work I’ve put in, and the responsibilities I’ve been given, but each one gives me a new thing to be anxious about. I’m terrified that I’m going to screw up, I’m constantly waiting for my super chilled and laid back boss to go off at me, it’s just a constant anxious tension that I know doesn’t need to be there, because these things won’t happen, but it is.
It follows me home too, because once I’m not at work it’s time for “overthink everything until I’m sure I’m a social freak and total liability to the business I care about”. This is when I think about every social interaction I had that day and every task that I did, and how all of it was the worst thing ever and its all my fault.
I’m a bit awkward, definitely, but most of my social interactions at work are okay, even nice. I’ve had times I’ve done things wrong or had to redo a task, but my boss offers me near constant validation and thanks. So, I know I’m doing well at work, but I still spend every single night having to push away thoughts that I’m a failure.
Add in the standard ‘I have three good friends that are lovely but I think they might hate me’, and the occasional thought that my cats or loved ones either just have or are about to be horrifically injured or killed, not to mention lingering anxiety about things not coming up for weeks or months, and that a day with my anxiety.