Anxiety & Me

Anxiety, what a twat you truly are.

I don’t really know at what point in my life I developed anxiety or if it’s always been there. I feel probably the latter. I’ve always had worries about dealing with things but it’s only in the past few years I’ve noticed it become more prominent in my life. After I finished school and before I studied A-levels, I felt like I lost a lot of confidence, and perhaps it ties in with that. Answers on a postcard, because I don’t have a fucking clue. But it’s there. It’s rampant. And it’s a bitch.

I’ve also never really spoke about it before, other than to my close friends. I’m not embarrassed to have it and perhaps if I was more open about it, it would help explain why I am often like I am.

People often ask how I have anxiety considering I act and perform. But that’s exactly it. When you do those things, I’m not me. That’s good. I like not being me. Because me is shit. When I am me in rehearsals or whatever, I’m awkward as fuck and just a general anxious mess. Recently though I’ve found that the levels of my anxiety have become so high I’m doubting my ability even as an actor, which I have loved doing since I was young and would like to make a career of. I’ve been told all the time that I can act and that I’m very good at it, and more recently that I can sing…but I feel like I’m constantly being judged. That I’m not good enough. Nobody’s probably thinking that, but I think that’s what they’re thinking and it generally drags my performances down in whatever context.

When I meet new people I need time. And often plenty of it. Days, weeks, months. It all depends on the situation. I wish I could just go somewhere and be me straight away (because apparently I’m a pretty funny guy…I thank you), but I can’t. It just doesn’t happen. I’m always awkward because I don’t want to look like an idiot, but by doing so I’m probably making myself look like even more of an idiot. Eventually I tend to be fine with people once I know them, except authority figures. No, no.

It’s things that would probably seem silly to other people: I get unnecessarily stressed and angry if my friends do something without me because I’m at work or busy and I feel like I’ve missed out; and if I do go out with friends, I have to walk in the middle and can never order anything first. When crossing the road, I don’t like to cross at crossings (ridiculous, eh) because I hate the feeling of being watched unnecessarily and people judging the way I walk or hold myself (I walk pretty normally, so I’m told, but it doesn’t change anything). If I’m in a lecture or a seminar, I tend to steer clear of answering questions even if I’m 100% sure it’s right…just in case it’s wrong and I get judged. And so on.

For me, anxiety goes just beyond social stuff, it becomes really scary at times. Depending on how bad the situation is, symptoms tend to go: panic, dry mouth, sweat, tight chest…and at that point I start to panic. How else are you supposed to react when you can’t think of anything else but you’re going to have a heart attack? (Which, I must add, makes the whole situation a lot worse, whatever it is). I’ve got a heart condition, which killed my dad, and although chest pains are not a symptom of this and I am WELL AWARE they are not a symptom of this, I can’t help doubting and thinking hey, I’m probably gonna die about now. Yup, it gets to the point where I am doubting actual medical professionals.

Perhaps the most crushing my anxiety has felt is not that long ago. When I really wanted to talk to someone but just couldn’t muster up any sort of courage to do so – I felt worthless, unsatisfactory and I don’t really know why. The more ‘rational’ half of me, if there even is one, is telling me to just do it, but everything else screams ‘no’. When I was forced to try and make conversation by pure chance, all I could muster were mumblings and sweat. Oh, that was after my chest tightened more than I’ve ever experienced before and I felt like I was going to die. Cool. Thus, I felt, is that ruined forever. Considering they will not have given it a second thought, it plays on my mind an awful lot to the point where I cannot sleep. I don’t know what to do with emotions or indeed sometimes I can’t even recognise what I’m feeling and I think it all comes down to not wanting to make a fool of myself in any situation. It’s absolutely wounding to know that people, admittedly including myself, base a lot on first impressions but fucking anxiety doesn’t let you even try and make a good first impression so the endless circle just continues.

‘Oh get over it’; ‘Man up’; ‘Just talk to her’; ‘You’re being pathetic’; ‘Stop being so over-dramatic’. Quotes from some of my ‘friends’ when I told them about that situation. Well, I say ‘friends’, I think it’s time to make them merely acquaintances. Thank you very much for your top quality advice guys, I AM CURED!

Even now as I draft this, it’s close to 6am and I really just can’t sleep as I bother myself about what seems to be ‘pathetic shit’. I don’t even really see the point in this but you know, treat yourself.

I don’t get people who don’t believe anxiety is ‘real’. It’s very real. Or at least it is to me. Even now as you read this (lol nobody’s reading this), you may thing ‘naaaa’, well come back to me when you feel like you can’t breathe and may hit the deck very shortly simply because you want to talk to someone and you can’t. That’s real. Why would you put yourself in that situation purposefully?

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