….have you actually experienced generalised anxiety? It struck me recently while quickly throwing a tasty but boiling mug of hot chocolate down my (now swollen and irritated) throat, that I was outnumbered. Sitting in a garden centre restaurant, looking around at others, mostly elderly, who appeared relaxed, who had probably happily made the decision to go to such a place to RELAX, take their time and enjoy a day out with no pressure.
Through the eyes of anxiety
Me? I was there in an attempt to take part in a normal outing (like a “normal” person). I soon, and completely predictably, found myself rushing my drink down and scanning for the nearest exits, wondering how I would negotiate the sea of slow-moving, meandering, octogenarian bodies, stopping to admire big blousy blooms. Blinding flowery dresses* and stripy t-shirts further disorientate my now revved-up nervous system. My eyes and other balance organs apparently having a dispute about what was up, what was down, and debating whether I needed to clamp my hands like sweaty vices to the edge of the table to stay upright.
Meanwhile, the more logical part of my brain was pointing out that I’m perfectly capable of staying upright without such overly dramatic actions under other circumstances, remonstrating the over-sensitive ancient part of my brain that seems convinced there’s some malevolent threat lurking within the sea of chatting, chewing blue-rinses and perms.**
I glance around desperately trying to pinpoint who else is sitting bolt upright, jaw set, pale and clammy. Just me, or so it appears to my temporarily self-absorbed mind.
This is anxiety
For the uninitiated out there……..this is anxiety! Not a stressful situation, not a panic attack, and not agoraphobia. This is anxiety in it’s generalised, ridiculous, practised, trying-to-become-your-default-setting gloriously annoying form. It changes your mindset and sets you up to fail if you let it. It makes you wish your life away, daydreaming about being in the autumn of your life, when you too will calmly, florally (in garb and choice of handcream***), ditheringly, and completely oblivious to others’ hurried trajectory through garden centre hell, enjoy such an everyday experience.
* ** *** – Anxiety also makes you prone to stereotyping and issuing sweeping statements about certain demographics due to being annoyed at anyone who is enjoying themselves.