Over the last year and a half, I’ve discovered there are many, many unpleasant factors involved in suffering from Anxiety. I’ve been horrified to realise that my brain is betraying my trust- suddenly I can’t believe it’s assessment of a situation. In the past if my brain told me I’d forgotten something, I had. If it kept worrying over a situation, it meant there was something wrong, and something horrible was actually about to happen. Finding out that my fears were suddenly illogical was such a relief, I’d always been superb at risk assessing, so I’d been taking all these extra terrors seriously. Equally, it was horrifying to discover the deception. I couldn’t trust me!
Then there’s my brain’s new habit of waking me up with a non-existent text, a middle of the night alarm, or an imaginary doorbell when I don’t even have a doorbell anymore. It’s just to make sure my heart is pounding and I’m thoroughly attentive, ready for the magician’s show to start when my brain produces an array of unrequested magic tricks- creating worries out of nowhere and disappearing all normal logic up its sleeve.
Next is the vomiting; I was never sick before. I hate being sick, I went years and years without vomiting. Now I puke when I clean my teeth when I cough too hard when I’m sat minding my own business, even when I’m fast asleep, so I’m lurched into wakefulness with milliseconds to get to the loo before I turn myself inside out.
I hate the brain function slow down. I hate the way I can’t learn properly anymore. My brain used to be faster than most, I was the one who would explain a concept to other people. Now I have blank spots when my concentration vanishes and it feels like trying to squeeze a huge marshmallow into a tiny jar trying to shepherd my thoughts back into cohesion.
And there’s the exhaustion, every bit of my body hurting, for now, reason and the headaches that start in my shoulders and slowly paralyse me, or my forehead and become all I can think of.
However, the worst symptom, the absolute worst, is that happy excitement, the anticipation of a long-awaited delight, or pleasure in a hard-won achievement brings the same upsurge in symptoms as negative stress. So when I launched my first novel online last Hallow’een, I was sat on the sofa, clutching my laptop and my sick bowl, sleep deprived and delicate. I won’t let it defeat me, though. I am more than the sum of my ills, I am nothing if not stubborn, and that grit will see me through.
So what do I do? Do I curl up, retreating from the world? It’s very tempting, God, it’s so bloody tempting. Do I give up altogether, bereft of all hope for a future free from pain and exhaustion do I make a ‘special’ cup of cocoa, I’ll never wake up from? I can see the temptation there too. No, what I do is I stick out my chin, I grit my teeth, and I look up. I keep moving, no matter how little. I accept that some days I won’t be able to do much, and those days I filter my To Do list down to one, easily manageable point, so I don’t get lost in self-hatred for not achieving anything. I accept that on PMT week I will need one day of doing absolutely nothing- my To DO will be to survive for that day.
I make sure that I appreciate something beautiful at least once every day, the green of a leaf against the blue sky, the daring silence at the centre of a song, the first sip of filter coffee my husband has made me with love. And do you know what? I love myself and my life far more now than I ever did before, so thank you anxiety for centring me back to me.
Born in Liverpool, Chloe grew up in West Wales. Without television, she was forced to overcome her difficulties with the written word, and books became her escape of choice. She studied Behavioural Sciences at the University of Glamorgan, but pestered her lecturers until allowed some modules of Creative Writing.
She always planned to write- life just got in the way. When she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression she struggled to sleep. Darkly Dreaming, Book 1 of the Darkly Vampire Trilogy, came to from the nightmares she suffered- entire scenes dreamt. She started writing them down, and the book flowed.
Writing soothes and grounds her; exhilarates and stimulates her.