Sometimes anxiety looks like groceries laying on the kitchen floor for a day and a half. Maybe because it’s too overwhelming to put them away thinking about the money spent on them, or lamenting the time it took to shop, or the plastic, the waste, the convenience, the junk. Sometimes anxiety looks like the shame spiral that ensues next because some people don’t have too many groceries to put away, and really, who finds it so difficult to put snacks in the pantry anyway?
Sometimes anxiety looks like buying a world map for the kids’ play area in the basement because it’s supposed to supplement real life world experiences, but leaving it in the package for years because we all know it doesn’t. Looking at it every day adds debris to the tornado that’s already spinning because of the groceries, and a missed appointment, and that thing I said 15 years ago.
Sometimes anxiety looks like letting the kids get messy because I like to pretend I’m a laissez faire parent, but really that’s just a cover-up. I imagine what others say about me as a parent. It’s the same harsh criticism I give others because then it’s fair. My judgment of them makes their judgement of me true. And around the cycle it goes.
Sometimes anxiety looks like letting friendships lapse.
Sometimes anxiety looks like writing this post a thousand times in my mind. To stop the words from spinning, I instead let them collect dust in the draft. And editing, editing, editing. Sometimes anxiety looks like waiting until it’s safe to share. Am I not the brave, powerful woman I display myself to be? Is this self-serving? Is this just noise amongst noise? Am I ready for the consequences, real or imagined? I haven’t decided yet if I’ll publish. (If you’re reading this, maybe I had a momentary lapse of judgment.)
Sometimes anxiety looks like, “It’s just postpartum anxiety!” because that’s easier for us to understand. #hormonesamiright? The truth is, anxiety has been around long before my children, and will be here long after.
Sometimes anxiety doesn’t look like anything. Can you tell? Am I biting my cheek? Staring out into space a little too intensely? Laughing at myself? Did I cancel our plans? Am I rubbing my forehead? Can you hear my heart racing? It’s really loud. Maybe I’m wringing my hands or cramping my muscles or gritting my teeth. Did you blink? I think you missed it.
Sometimes anxiety looks like ordering the same thing at every restaurant because the options are too overwhelming. Or signing up for the training or the workouts or the race or the groupon and then not following through. Or spending double the time avoiding a simple phone call because it’s easier to collect and hide racing thoughts in written words.
Sometimes anxiety is the non-physical representation of a carousel gone out of control. Someone keeps pressing the button and the speed increases. It’s spinning so fast, you can’t see the horses. The nuts and bolts start flying off in different directions because of the pressure. The glass breaks, and the metal twists. Hang on too tightly, and break. Let go, and fly away. Close your eyes, slow the spinning, and try not to throw up. Being adventurous is for other people.
Sometimes anxiety looks like me.