Waking up in the morning and feeling that sinking feeling in your stomach, the one you know means your mind has so many thoughts on it that some of them haven’t yet processed and reached you; there’s an actual queue in your head, a waitlist for worrisome thoughts.
Getting up and attempting to focus on what needs to be done right now like breakfast and cleaning and face washing and greetings.
You need a smile and you need eggs and milk and you need to find your daughter’s pajama pants and you probably need to go back to sleep.
But you’re not sleepy, you’re fatigued.
The difference is one is a matter of “right now I need to sleep” and one is “overall, I’m just freaking tired.”
So you forget about going back to bed because you couldn’t anyway and don’t really want to.
You get up and start the day and all these thoughts keep poking you. Some of the time you can’t figure out if the thing is really bothering you – or if it’s just that the thing is on a long list of other things.
Like maybe individually each thing isn’t so bad, but it’s that the things are all speeding around.
You know there are resolutions to all the problems, but you can’t catch one to apply the answer.
So you know the problems and you know the answers, but you can’t connect them.
Like having a lamp and fumbling around in the dark for the socket in the wall but every time you get to it, it moves.
So you’re just there in the dark, unable to see your own hand in front of your face.
Just there knowing all the worries and all the answers are right there, just out of your reach.
That’s okay. You have much to do.
You decide to walk out of this room, this anxiety.
It’s too dark in here to see to fix anything so really what’s the use?
You walk out and shut the door and leave those worries and answers floating crazily around.
Let them bruise each other with their careless speeding about; you have other matters to attend to.
You will not sit in this room and allow these thoughts to pummel you, you can’t waste time anymore.
Time has flown by already.
You walk out of that room and into another, where your children are.
Both of them look up and beam at you, all you did was enter a room you’d been in not ten minutes before.
You’d left this room to go ponder your troubles.
You smile back at them and a thought comes – one of those thoughts that had been flying around in the dark room.
It has slipped beneath a crack in the door to the dark room, but it’s okay, because it’s just one thought.
You catch it gently and you see it now – Oh, I know this problem!
This is isn’t so bad after all, this is one I can handle.
You are glad that only the one thought came through, because now you are 1-0, because it was a fair fight. You’re no match for a hundred problems at once.
You feel a sense of confidence.
You sit down to breakfast with your children and the three of you are laughing hysterically, eggs spilling out of the eldest’s mouth, orange juice making a mustache on the toddler’s face.
They start talking to each other and one of those thoughts slips under the door again, still just a singular worry.
You keep your chin up this time (with the first worry, you’d felt instantly saddened) and catch it more bravely.
Ha, I know this problem, too!
It’s a familiar one, one you’ve dealt with before and have learned to handle well.
Why did these thoughts all look so scary before?
Oh yes, the anxiety. There were just too any of them and that room was dark and they were flying so fast.
Good thing you’ve learned to feel your way out of that room in the dark. It’s lifesaving. And life-giving.
Yes, you have a life now.
Your day continues and you read, play, ride the train, cook, drink coffee, bathe your toddler, make your eldest beg for mercy on the Wii.
Those thoughts continue to slip under the door one by one, and each time you are more confident and more prepared, until you welcome those thoughts.
You want to settle it, you don’t want the door to that room to remain shut.
You know that if it does it only collects more worries until it grows so full the door bursts and flies and those troubles make a mess of things.
Your personality, the way you treat your children, the way you think of yourself.
No, this way is better. You will probably always have anxiety.
So always have confidence, and always keep your head high up, and always catch those thoughts when you can.
Oh, and take your St. John’s Wort more often, please.
You’re doing well with your diet compared to maybe 5 years ago but you know you can do better. (How long you gonna let that bag of quinoa sit in the cabinet?)
Open your windows if you have to be inside – fresh air always.
And keep playing with your children. That’s when your mind is clearest. That’s when those thoughts sting less.
Do not fear that room, do not fear anxiety.
Be afraid to not face it.