It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that anxiety sucks balls. Or, it’s not. But it should be. Because it does.
Anxiety is different for everyone. There are different triggers, different symptoms, different solutions. No two people are exactly the same, and that just makes it all harder.
Everyone has a solution: it was the first thing I learned when I realized at seventeen years old what the overheated, jittery, spinning terror I was experiencing every day was. It was like a rabid naked mole rat burrowing deep under my skin, skittering across my innards looking for things to munch on. Things like calmness, and happiness, and sleep. It ate away at me every single day for years before I ever knew its name. Everyone has a solution and likes to give advice, but not every solution works for everyone.
Take a deep breath, they say. Close your eyes and count to ten. Find a hobby. Take your mind off of it. Get over it. Recognize that the feeling of imminent death isn’t an omen, but a creation of your mind. It doesn’t exist. Realize that you are safe and allow the terror to wash over you until, like a wave, it retreats.
What they don’t know is that every wave comes back to shore. Sometimes they are tsunamis, rushing away only to gather the strength to crush you. When it comes back in for me, it brings with it the screaming terror of my youth. Fears that cannot be put into words, and it steals my breath.
Count to ten.
I won’t say that it’s easy, because that’s a transparent lie. It’s hard. Like walking barefoot across a field of molten glass that doesn’t end. And you’re afraid it won’t end. It’ll go on forever, and the voice in your head that whispers death and destruction won’t leave you alone. You’ll do anything to stop it, but it feels as though nothing you can do is good enough.
Just remember that every step you take is a step you’re taking towards safety. Towards health. Towards a good night’s sleep, and calm. Your steps are different from mine, known only to you, and they are slow. They are painful. But they will work.
Everyone has a solution.
Count to ten.