Do you ever get that feeling in the pit of your stomach? You know, the one where your entire insides do flips? When your legs go like jelly and your heart seems to skip several beats. Your hands begin to shake or go clammy and suddenly you’re hyper aware of every movement you’re making, every single muscle.
Infact, just typing about it is making me feel a bit like that!
Most people feel like that before something nerve-wracking; an interview perhaps, or before performing in someway, or maybe before having to give a presentation. Your body is preparing itself and the adrenaline is pumping round for a ‘fight or flight’ response.
I would never dream of claiming any sort of knowledge on anxiety beyond my own, it would be incredibly arrogant of me to say so. All I can do is admit to something on here what I think is probably very obvious to a lot of people but that I never talk about in the detail I’m about to, and I’m hoping by putting down everything I feel I might begin to make some headway in tackling it. I am a very anxious person.
And I’m going to be really upfront about this – I am not diagnosed with “anxiety” as a condition. Namely because I got brave going once to the doctors to try and do something about it and pretty much got a shrug of the shoulders, and admittance that, yes, I am obviously a nervous person and that’s it. The experience was entirely unhelpful and I haven’t been back with any anxiety-like symptoms since. What if everyone feels like this and I am just a drama-queen?
I’m just going to talk about one ‘symptom’ for the moment. My biggest and most common ‘symptom’ is the feeling of not being in reality. Now, I know that makes me sound a bit like I’ve completely lost my marbles, but I’ll try and explain is as best as I can.
Imagine you’re watching a film. Perhaps in 3D if you like, and you know the type of film where you are right involved in the action and you’re so engrossed in it. It’s all you’re thinking about in that moment, and you, as the spectator of the film have practically become a part of that film. But you can’t alter it’s path, and you can’t change it. You can just watch the action happen infront of you. You’re not really there. It’s still happening out of your reach all around you.
That’s sort of how I feel in an anxious situation. Well, infact, even in a situation where I don’t even realise I’m anxious. It’s as if what’s happening infront of me isn’t really happening, as if I’ve some how disconnected a lead in my head that makes things seems real. Things seems to happen slower and as if I’m not apart of them. I become really aware of every moment, and I become really sensitive to light. Everything seems brighter, and everything seems like it could be in a dream. I’ve lost the link to reality, or I’m in some sort of ‘brain fog’.
This shouldn’t be confused into thinking that I have actually lost touch with reality. It’s not like when you’re a little bit drunk and you think you can do all these things that don’t affect you or anyone around you. It’s not that sort of feeling. Infact, in that moment of semi-drunkenness you’re more than likely very happy and content. This is the opposite of content, this is like you’re the only one in that little world and bubble. It’s fightening, lonely and very unpleasant. I suppose a little like if you have been really dizzy and the moment between the real frightening dizziness and normality when you just feel a bit ‘funny’ and out of touch.
Some of these moments are quite predictable for me after so many years of having them. They will almost always occur when I’m somewhere unfamiliar with a lot of people around me. They will always occur on a bus; on a train; in a waiting room (of any variety, not just the dentist!); in a busy high street; in a foreign country or unfamiliar city; in a classroom or group environment. But they do also happen at home, or somewhere I’m familiar or with people I know. I suppose it helps that it has happened so often, because I always know, logically, that I’m fine and that nothing bad is actually happening. But they can feel very frightening, especially if I’m on my own. You can tell yourself all the most sensible things in the world (and I’m a very sensible, logical person) but in that moment it’s very difficult to think about anything else other than the feeling your having. Of course, the more you think about it, the longer it takes to go away. This happens to me on a regular basis, sometimes daily. And then I won’t have the feeling for a few months and then it’ll come back again.
It won’t surprise you that, given I’m posting this, I’m currently in the midst of having this feeling on a near-daily basis and have been for the past few weeks. I have no reason to currently feel anxious or worried about anything. There have been no changes in my personal life, no additional pressure in any aspect of my life, it’s just like it for the moment. But instead of letting it go unmentioned, as I have done for so many years, I thought I’d mention it. Perhaps you have your own experience and think you can offer me some advice. I’ve read some advice that you should try and engage your senses to try and bring you back to ‘reality’, focusing on what is actually going on – but as yet that’s not been successful for me, so I’m just riding it out and hoping it’ll improve.
Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him? ~Calvin and Hobbes