I don’t consider myself an anxious person but like any other good human being, there are lots of things that spark anxious emotions and make me feel funny.
However, there are 3 things that make me anxious on a daily basis: exams, meeting new people and love. Each one of them strikes me in different ways.
Exams fill my brain with bubbles, my memories become blurry and I can’t think of anything. I keep my eyes open just so that I don’t fall asleep, images go by and it feels like I can’t react to them. A friend walks by and says “hey, how you doing?”. I catch myself staring at them struggling to finds words that can make sense in whatever language I’m trying to speak. Finally, I say “Good. I can’t wait for this to be done”. Maybe I should be revising? Why am I staring out to nowhere? Why is it so difficult to concentrate? Why do I keep asking myself questions I don’t know the answer to? The hour strikes, it’s time to walk in, I grab my bag and like a walking zombie, drag myself to my seat, I forgot my seat number, I have to run back and check. I sit down, fill in the personal details sheet and wait for the exam to begin, while my lungs dry up. I keep breathing harder and harder because I feel like I’m not taking enough air to survive. I’m staring again. ‘Andrea, pull yourself together!!’, I tell myself. I try to think of something outside, ‘what am I going to do after the exam?’ sleep, I’m going to bed. Suddenly I’m in my bed I look around and it’s all relaxed, my heart still beats quite heavily, but I can relax now. I feel my lungs expanding, I feel the blood traveling everywhere in my body, I hear a voice “You now have 2 hours to complete your exam”. It’s time, I need to start. I pick up the pen and start writing, I don’t know what, but I keep writing. I put the pen down, it’s done. I don’t care anymore. It’s finished, I feel a relief-sensation going through my body, trying to fight the tension of the anxiety. I get up and walk out, the relief is so strong, yet I can still feel my heart beating really fast, I know what I need to do. I need to speak with someone, about something that isn’t the exam. “Hey! What are you doing now?” she looks right into my eyes, “ehm, going home? Do I know you?”. “Ehm, no?” why the fuck does it matter? Bloody Brits, sometimes you just drive me mad. I feel better though. My heart rate is back to almost normal, I can go home now, sleep.
When I eventually decide to get out of bed and go out, it’s time for another rush of anxiety through my veins. This time I can feel it running through my body like a drug, it makes my arms shake, my teeth bite my tongue and the breathing this time is up in my larynx. It’s as if my lungs shrank and moved up to my throat and now they are inflating and deflating fast taking small amounts of air at the time. I get to the meeting point, big smile, typical of me, and eyes rolling everywhere to avoid eye-contact. I start talking, and talking, and talking, within the first 10 minutes of the meeting the person they’re already my best friend. They know everything about my past, present, and future when it comes to the fatal moment: I have nothing else to say. I stand there, awkwardly silent trying to think of things to say. I look at them desperate for help, their eyes seem to be speaking to me: “what do you want from me? I’m British, you know we’re awkward”. I’ve lost too much attention looking at them and now I’m tripping over my own feet. Awkward again. They reach out to grab me, but I’ve got good reflex and I’m safe. We are at the Cafè, I try to talk about the coffee, it’s shit, but I say “Mmm good place for coffee this one, have you been here before?”, yes, they have, of course they have, what do I say now? My mind is tired of thinking, I look around and everything stars to look a bit yellowy, I yawn, but not because I’m bored, I’m just tired! “Do you want to head back?”, they ask. I do, but I don’t like them, they are not helping my intoxicated mind to breathe and now all I want is to close my eyes and forget the past 2 hours spent trying to keep a decent conversation. “Yes, sorry, I’ve had a long day at uni”, I didn’t have lectures today, just anxiety.
Round 3. Let’s just pretend the date went well. They were able to get through my speech-anxiety, and we are now onto the next level: the “OMG I have a crush on them” level. This is the type of anxiety I definitely hate the most. I’m anxious because they texted me, I’m anxious because they kissed me, I’m anxious because I don’t know if I’ve changed the sheets before they came to stay at mine. I’m anxious because I have a partner. However, I’ve come to the realisation, through the years, that this might be the very reason I’m happy when I’m in love. Yes, I am happy because I’m anxious. Because they spice up my life and make every little thing something to have an abnormally high heart-rate for. Going shopping with them makes me forget everything I had to buy, but hey, you know what? I’ll just improvise. “What’s for dinner?”, butter and smoked salmon bruschette, an onion soup, and if you are lucky enough a night of passional sex for dessert.
I’ve learned that living with my anxiety it’s like having a housemate – you don’t see them at night (hopefully, unless you’ve made the mistake of getting together with one of them), but they are always part, in a way or another, of your daily routine and when you don’t have them, boredom reigns.