More than just a worrywart…

We’re all friends here so I’m going to be honest with you. I sometimes think that the anxiety I feel might be getting worse. Some days I am embarrassed to admit it but other days I’m not. Why should I be ashamed? I don’t actually like the idea that one can ‘have anxiety’. It doesn’t sound like very good English but hey ho. 

I might have told you before that I first experienced it way back in The Beginning when I tried to cross a road by myself but didn’t feel I could trust my legs to get me across fast enough despite the gaps in the traffic. Cue panic attack. 

I wholeheartedly believe the only reason I feel this anxiety is because of my physical health and its unpredictability. I feel like my ill health has shattered my confidence in myself because my body is not the body I thought it was. It has let me down. I feel terribly nervous before social events even if they are with friends and extended family I have known my entire life. I have come to feel like I cannot trust my body to get me through a couple of hours of socialising or time spent outside of my house.

I feel unsettled if my family have visitors come to the house when I wasn’t expecting them but I believe it’s essential I’m pushed out of my comfort zone every once in a while or things will only get worse for me. 

At times I have this overwhelming feeling that something bad is going to happen to someone I love. If my brothers are out late I usually won’t sleep until I hear them come home. Don’t worry, I’ve seen my GP about all of this. 

I am conscious that it could get to the point where I feel too anxious/nervous to get out of bed incase the ‘exertion’ triggers a setback or relapse. The uncertainty of day-to-day life with M.E. is, on some days, shattering my nerves. 

This is the reality of what four years of chronic illness has done to me.  

I feel so out of the loop being mostly housebound that I don’t know what people wear for dinner on a Tuesday night in town, or what music is in the charts, or how much parking costs anymore. I worry whether the lighting in the cafe trigger a migraine, or whether the crying baby in the corner could exacerbate my nausea… 

These things cause me to be anxious. You can think they’re silly things to worry about. I do too. But this is what chronic illness has reduced me too. A (sometimes blubbering) wreck. No wonder I’m exhausted; my mind works overtime.

For me, this anxiety has a physical impact. The sweating is just lovely! My throat becomes drier than any throat has ever been. (I always was a drama queen.) And the rash-like blotches on my skin are so attractive! I jest. It’s all gross. 

Alas I have somehow managed to make sure the anxiety doesn’t stop me from fulfilling my plans. The M.E. does that often enough so I am conscious of not letting anything else stop me from catching up with friends. 

It seems odd then, if I am so nervous and jittery, that I am able to share so much of my life online with strangers… 

I’ve always been one to firmly believe in mind over matter. The mind is a powerful tool. Incredibly so. And I have been able to avoid having a panic attack for a long while. I’d never had a panic attack before I was ill and it took me a while to realise that that’s what they were. Nasty things! I ask myself the practised question of “What do you think is going to happen?” or “What’s the worst that can happen?” and the answers aren’t too reassuring actually. Telling me not to worry is lovely but doesn’t really help – I already know that worrying is pointless and I’m actually very good at keeping myself calm, if I do say so myself. 

So there you have it. I feel like I am battling anxiety with thanks to M.E. It’s like some awful Buy One Get One Free offer…

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