Photo by Kyle Dandrea
the whole city is breathing peacefully to the sound of the rain tapping on the windows yet my thoughts are the loudest storm. there is no clock on the wall but I can still hear it ticking, a constant echo warning me that there isn’t enough time. not enough time to do all of the things I need to do. or want to do. instead, I do nothing at all. instead, I run through every conversation I had today and criticize myself for all the things I said. or didn’t say. I run through tomorrow's schedule about five times, with each adding one more task I probably won’t get to anyway. I create crazy scenarios and what-ifs and I toss and I turn and I count numbers and sheep and I turn on white noise just so something can distract my brain from itself. for once.
but the voices in my head never shut off.
I wake up in the morning exhausted from my short nights sleep but my mind is still restless. I might put on three different shirts before I pick one because somehow there is a right and wrong decision. I check my phone. what was only a minute felt like an hour. I run back and forth from my bedroom to the kitchen to the bathroom in constant worry I have forgotten something. I take my medicine. sometimes I don’t because I convince myself they don’t help me. that maybe those pills are just slowly killing me a little more each day. I think about what I’m going to eat for so long that all I have time for now is to grab a granola bar and go. wait, where are my keys?
I frantically pick up everything off of my dresser and rip clothes out of my drawers and the covers off of my already unmade bed because if I can’t find my keys my life is over.
oh. never mind. my mind was moving so fast I didn’t even realize I had already put them in my jacket pocket. two minutes ago.
as I head out the door I look at the clothes scattered across the floor. the messy bed. the unopened envelope I haven’t had the courage to tear apart because I already know I have a bill to pay with money I don’t have. the light blue shirt I still have to return to my dear friend who was kind enough to let me borrow it, a month ago.
my safe space is too cluttered to even feel like a space at all.
it’s afternoon now. I am sitting quietly but the world feels so loud. I’m sweating through my shirt and my palms are clammy and my leg hasn’t stopped shaking, not even once. I just picked my fingernail until it bled and now it’s bleeding and I hope no one is looking at it. they might find it gross. my best friend is talking to me and I’m listening- I promise, I’m listening, but I’m also listening to the chatter behind me and the vending machine rumbling and the sound of a business women’s heels click and everything is just amplified. I hear everything all at once and the voice in my head somehow has to comment on it all.
my chest is tight so I take a really big deep breath hoping it doesn’t hurt as much as the last
my skin is hot, like really hot so I touch my exposed arms with my ice cold water bottle
my vision is pinching and blurring so I close my eyes until the next distraction
my hands are shaky so I crack my knuckles so that I’m the one in control of how they move
I smile at my friends so they know that I’m okay. because I am okay, I think. this is what it’s always been like. but maybe they just don’t get it. to be honest, they probably don’t. they don’t always understand why I cancelled the plans I was beyond excited for. or why the assignment I worked on for three hours still isn’t finished. or why I didn’t text them back for two days. or why I spent too long worrying about my appearance when they know I don’t care to impress anyone.
I get home and I tiptoe around the clothes scattered across the wood floor. I find a space on my messy dresser and fill it with my keys, my phone, pocket change, and wrappers. It’s too messy for me to clean so instead i ignore it. I plop myself down on my bed. I unravel the balled-up covers that are now kissing the floor and throw them on myself, enough to drown my entire face. there is still so much I need to do, but the only thing I can get myself to do right now is lay here.
and feel everything at once
while feeling nothing at all.
this is my anxiety.