A Series of Hamster Wheels… Stone Polishers… No Hamster Wheels

I found this image on Facebook posted by a friend. The artist's name and date are on the bottom of the artwork (for credit). It's a perfect description.

I found this image on Facebook posted by a friend. The artist’s name and date are on the bottom of the artwork (for credit). It’s a perfect description. Toby Allen 2013.

How do I even begin to explain this? I already wrote something this week, but I felt that this was something kind of important to who I am as a person and that someone out there could relate. I have anxiety. My boyfriend does not. In fact, he is the most perfect person to be paired up with because he is the most laid back human being I have ever met. Instead of him misinterpreting my anxiety he takes the time to recognize it and understand it. He takes the initiative to ask questions about it. He knows I’m not trying to push my anxiety on him, but I have no other way to express it when something is really overwhelming me and bothering me. The other day I had to try to explain my chaotic thought process to him because although it is only early August I started asking him questions about Christmas. And the things I was asking came out of the blue. I immediately realized I was way too far ahead for someone like him (normal, and easy-going) to even begin to think about what I had asked. This is when I realized how crazy it can sound.

Instead of expecting an answer I did a full-blown tail spin into trying to explain my thought process of what caused me to ask about Christmas, causing me to over explain. In doing this I thought it might be a good idea to briefly jot it down in front of my own face and hopefully someone else can identify with it.

On any given day it feels like I have a series of hamster wheels… stone polishers… no, hamster wheels running my brain and they’re all interconnected. A few of them are set to social interaction (as I’m an introvert with social anxiety). There’s always some over analyzing that I’m doing over something I said, something someone else said to me, or behaved around me. Then there’s the one doing the worrying about the next social interaction I have coming up, be it a party, shower, get together, etc. There’s no end to the worries I have pertaining to social interaction. Sometimes it reduces me to tears because the anxiety over these things is so great that I shut down and I don’t want to go or just plain feel like I physically can’t go.

Then there is the wheel worrying about safety. Did I unplug my straightener? I know I turned it off, but do I remember the noise of the cord hitting the floor? Do I remember seeing it actually come out of the wall? Did I use the oven this morning? No, of course not, I never use the oven in the morning, Will boyfriend turn off the oven? I shut off the fan, right? Although these ones are easier to laugh about with people because everyone has experienced these on some level, there are days I sit at my desk or turn my car around to go home and check.

Then there is the short-term future worry wheel. This is the wheel I devote to worries like, What’s for dinner this week. What is on sale at the grocery store (divert to financial worry wheel)? How am I going to plan my day off on Saturday when I have a function to go to at X time (divert to social interaction wheel). How will I squeeze in time to check on my grandmother and visit if I have all these other obligations, plans and appointments to work around?

Then there’s the long-term future worry wheel. This wheel is full of “funsies”. This wheel is usually frantically turning over worries like, what is our wedding going to cost us (divert to financial worry wheel)? How will we afford it? When our lease expires will we renew or look at houses (that was a miserable experience… let’s worry about how that sucked the life out of you with nothing to show for it). We want kids, how many? I’m 27 years old and we need to fit in an engagement, wedding (divert to social interaction worry wheel), a house AND having kids before that’s no longer an option. How will that happen? Will that change us? And the worry EVERY woman has when having kids, will he love me, still? Will I be able to look at myself after kids?

Finally, there’s the financial worry wheel. I know everyone has this one. I worry about how I will pay for my bills, how I will buy the things we need. How I can start to save for things (divert to long-term future worry wheel) while paying on current bills. I know I’m not alone on this one.

It’s anyone’s guess what worries I’m actually going to communicate. In fact, I’m extremely selective about who I actually voice some of this crazy anxiety to because if you don’t know me you might think I’m a bit nuts. Outwardly I am calm, quiet and laid back. The reality of my anxiety lies on these hamster wheels and there has only ever been one person to understand me and that’s my boyfriend and life partner. Out of all the people in my life, family, friends and coworkers, he is it. He has what it takes to interpret what I am feeling.

When you’re a person with such heightened anxiety it is very important to have your safe zone in a person you trust. Someone that doesn’t make you feel or call you crazy. That’s the last thing you need. You and I are NOT crazy. The truth is, I don’t know what to call it, but it’s not crazy. Anxiety is so different between different people. It never looks the same. The point is this, we have to support each other as we try to overcome these hurdles.

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