To give in to the anxiety or to fight it

Since childhood I have been dealing with anxiety, but not since I have been able to identify it as such and give it a name to pin it down it have I been able to make conscious decisions about how to deal with it. Recently I have been doing some research on anxiety and how to deal with it. Many people tell you to do some breathing exercises or to remove yourself from the situation you’re in, many also say that ultimately you have to face the anxiety and the situation that causes it to overcome the feeling through repetitive action. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. Instead of building something up in your head and never ever confronting yourself with whatever circumstance causes your anxiety, you should go through it, realise there is no actual danger and thereby reduce your anxiety bit by bit. Makes total sense. Personally, I am anxious in a couple of places. Intimacy is my number one, as I’m mentioned on this blog before. I am afraid of people even confessing their interest in me, or people liking me romantically or sexually. When I think someone might want more than friendship, I genuinely consider leaving the country, then realise that I can’t do that for obvious reasons like my education and the fact I could not afford and so on (you see I have put some thought into this). I am afraid of hurting these people, of disappointing their expectations. It didn’t used to be like this, it used to be that I was afraid of the next step, the physical and emotional intimacy and the vulnerability that comes with it. Now I don’t even want people to ask me out, because I know I am going to turn them down, because I am too afraid of whatever comes next. And I let it get this far by avoiding that kind of flirtatious contact other people seem to enjoy or at least have no problem with. What I ought to do to remedy this feeling, this panic; the sweaty hands, the racing heartbeat, the hyperventilation, when somebody simply looks at me as if they were interested, is to put myself in such a situation and live through it. I ought to go up to a guy or a girl and be like: “Hey there, let’s flirt, because I think you’re attracted and this may lead to nothing or it may lead to something and I can totally deal with both situations, because neither of them bother me at all!”

Other than generally sounding like a total lunatic, I would be lying about absolutely everything. But apparently that’s what this method wants me to do. And I would objectively encourage anyone with anxiety or other mental disorders stopping them from living life to the fullest to try this. Subjectively I would like to say: “Fuck off, I am going to bed now.” Because going to bed is the answer to most, if not all things.

Another part of my life anxiety has an effect on, among other parts, is work life. I work in a restaurant as a waitress / barista (depending on what is needed) to earn some money aside from studying at uni. The job in general is okay. Sometimes I even enjoy it. When it gets really full, it can become extremely stressful and this stress turns the people I work with into unapologetically impatient … let’s call them busy bees. And I am not much better. Except, that instead of growing aggressive and loud, I get quiet and insecure, just wanting to get through this stressful phase and could everybody just shut the fuck up?

Anyway, the stressful times are one thing, then there’s other stuff like people seeming to assume I am incapable (I have several examples, but I will spare you the details) – ultimately it leaves me feeling slightly discouraged or at least heeding negative sentiments at the end of the day. So, I guess you could say: That’s not anxiety, that’s just a shitty time at work. I agree. I have basically decided I am not right for that kind of work – I belong in a dusty collection of ancient scrolls or other historical pieces or taking care of the props in a theatre, somewhere hidden and discreet, away from stressed out people complaining they’ve been waiting on that cheese platter (fucking hate making cheese platters) for half an hour, when really it’s been ten minutes (because you happen to have 20 orders of drinks and most of them require special attention, like making decaf coffee with soy milk – WHY NOT JUST ORDER TEA?!). The thing is, I also get anxious when I see a missed call from them or occasionally I get fits of anxiety when I just talked to them on the phone, arranging a new shift. A few weeks ago I sat in my class at uni after getting a call from work to arrange my shifts for the week after, and I could not concentrate at all, I was hyperventilating quietly in my chair, feeling sick, dizzy, my sight was confused and I was considering leaving the room and the building because I felt like I was not getting enough air.

So I realise this is just a job and it’s normal not to be perfect at it, especially if this is just part-time and not what I am studying to do, and I realise that stress is naturally part of the equation too, but the anxiety is not. The thing is that I have so many negative events and feelings associated with this place, that just a call from them or the thought of going there – even if it’s just to pick up my work plan – gives me such anxiety it’s now influencing other parts of my life. And that really worries me. I still force myself to continue like everything is normal,  because objectively everything is. I am just wondering if staying on is going to make my anxiety worse or if it will eventually fade. The thing is, I’ve been waiting for it to fade for months now and it’s only become worse.
I’ve considered quitting many, many, many times, but then I thought: You have no real reason to do it, it’s irrational.

So, it it? This makes me wish the decision was made for me somehow, that they fire me or that something substantial happens that gives me a reason to leave. Because otherwise, if I quit, it’s on me to find a new job and go to interviews and be judged and evaluated all over again and the next job may be way worse than this one, because this one isn’t that bad, right?

Writing this, my “problem” seems highly insignificant. But in those moments where I want to curl up in bed and hide from the world, it seems very significant and substantial. I feel like quitting would mean giving in to the anxiety. Or maybe this is a situation in which also a person without anxiety would say they’ve had enough. I really can’t tell. I ought to be lucky to even have a job…as you can see I have very conflicted feelings about this whole thing.

LIke with many of my posts I come to the conclusion that this all seems like meaningless rambling, but the anxiety for certain is a real thing. So, if you have anxiety and you’re asking yourself if you should face the (presumed) danger or run and hide from it for a little while longer; I do not have the answer for you. Long-term I’d say: Face the anxiety, before it grows and overwhelms you. That would be the sensible thing to do…

 

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