Whack a mole – what anxiety feels like

I was asked this recently so thought I’d try and explain. 

 

I thought this would be an easy post to write – but it turns out describing it adequately is hard work! But in the spirit of my previous posts about not making comparisons here goes… 

 

There can be an obvious trigger – something obviously stressful – bizarrely they are the easier ones to deal with because I can see them coming.

 

The hard to spot triggers are the little thoughts that carry on and grow into something bigger and then trigger other smaller thoughts that grow as well.

 

They take me by surprise and because I’m not prepared it’s hard to apply the things I’ve learnt to manage anxiety (because most of them require you to have some control or be able to exercise some control over your thinking). 

 

So, for example, a huge project messing up at work – usually I’ll see that coming and have a number of plans to deal with the problem and how I feel about it. It’s stressful but most of the time I feel in control.

 

On the flip side – finding a crack in a wall in the house, or wondering why I can’t get hold of someone, or wondering if I’ve upset someone – can spiral into uncontrolled thoughts, worst case scenario planning and full on anxiety. 

 

And when I’m there it feels like…

 

Fast heartbeat, tight chest, dry mouth, feeling sick, cold sweats, can’t sit still and definitely can’t sleep. 

 

Concentrating on anything other than these thoughts is hard work. Listening to other people can be hard (not listening but actually processing what they are saying). 

 

When it does pass or I get it under control I often feel really tired and wiped out. Which is weird because on the surface you haven’t really done anything to warrant feeling so tired – obviously underneath there has been a lot of things going on. 

 

I’d sum it up as a very stressful game of whack a mole. 

 

The thoughts come one after the other and often I’m surprised by other random thoughts coming up as well. You just about deal with one and then another comes up. 

 

So that’s what it feels like to me. Some people may well relate to this. Most people wouldn’t even know unless I told them. So I am. 

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