What Having Anxiety Feels Like

From the outside it’s easy to think that somebody has got it all figured out. Because my hair is curled and my cheeks are intentionally flushed – I must not have a care in the world. As if it were expected from my demons to be worn like a scarlet letter pinned to my chest – and they assume if you cannot see it, then it’s not really there. As if pain does not exist unless you’re bleeding or slung in a cast or staggering with a limp. But sometimes, the most painful demons are the ones they can’t even see.

So we learn how to smile, how to grin, and bear it. Because, nobody likes to talk about the tough stuff… Hell, I don’t like to talk about the tough stuff.

I have anxiety. 

It feels like every cell in my body is moving so fast that my veins are blurry, that despite the constant rhythm of my heart-beat – inside my ears, it’s like listening to spastic drum line, it feels like bees in my ears, it’s like a broken white noise machine playing all of the sounds at once … and I don’t even realize I’m grinding my teeth or cracking my knuckles or rubbing my forefinger against my pinky or twisting the gold band on my middle finger – holding onto myself like I’M the only lifeline bridge in the gap between reality on my own two feet and the atomic loud of bliss and noises and sounds and feelings of fleeting rushing through my veins.

… and I’m avoiding eye contact. Not because I’m not listening to what you’re saying but because I’m listening to the sound of my own voice – hoping that through your voice you can’t hear that it’s two octaves too high and on the verge of breaking because my palms are sweaty, and I somehow forgot to speak with anything behind my words other than insecurity.

My anxiety feels like fire. 

Unexplainably hot and rash and frustrating. As I gnaw the inside of my cheek as if a solution to this feeling is varied between my teeth and gums. It feels like drowning but it feels like burning and it feels like f*cking forever …

I imagine my feet moving with trails of dust behind them like in those cartoons because somehow I’m moving faster than the 60 seconds they’ve allowed in a minute – all the while I’m just playing catch-up on the stopwatch. It doesn’t add up like it did in high school mathematics – I can’t carry the one and find the square root of the problem, because most of the time, THERE IS NO PROBLEM.

There is no life or death situation – there is no rhyme or reason, there are just FEELINGS and I’m feeling all of them at once.

Some days are better than others. 

Some days are worse. But they’re just days … and I’ve got more where they came from.

~ Meghan Rienks

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