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Anxiety and Writing

I’m kind of writing this in hopes someone will say, “This isn’t anxiety; this is normal.” Then again, I would like the recognition of, “I have never experienced this. I can’t imagine what you must go through.” Not sure which one I want.

Anywho, so, I have anxiety, or at least I did. At any rate, it’s tapered greatly. Anxiety for me is as though I can see the future, like I have a time limit on absolutely everything I do. I’m sure you not-yet-published writers out there can understand where this leads to problems. Take this for example:

I wake, knowing I have to go to work later in the day. I have a few writing tasks to get done. I get done with part of them, possibly enough for most writers, I wouldn’t know. It’s not like I have a writing group where I ask, “Hey, how long would it take you to do XXX?” That seems silly and competitive. But that’s not enough. I can do more. I should do more. I have to do more because it’s not getting done fast enough. That’s the part that doesn’t feel normal.

And for you writers out there, you understand how looooooong the process is. Not “can take”; is. Not the writing itself, I’m talking about not-yet-published authors or indie authors who have to do 10X what the published ones do. The marketing, the writing, the editing, the querying, the cover design, the formatting, the uploading/dealing with distributors, the begging for reviews, the constant battle not to compare yourself to every single other author in the world, the networking, the trying to find cover designers/illustrators/editors, the job you work to make money until your writing takes off. I could go on, but like I said, I have work later today. The fact I get done what I do is mind boggling.

I want you to imagine this though. You have all that, but you see it all being played out in the future, not in a planner or that you have allotted false due dates for everything (trust me, that doesn’t help) but that’s it’s already overdue. You know your entire life’s track, and you should already be on the next train. So when you do your writing project of the day, no matter what it is, there is a tight feeling that starts from your upper arms and pulls into the center of your chest like an elastic spider’s web from p90X. That’s anxiety, and that’s what it feels like almost every hour of every day for me. I feel that way at work because I’m not editing my next ms. I feel that way while editing because it should have already been done. I feel that way now because I see the end of this post and want it done five minutes ago. But I have to keep going. I have to finish typing and then go back and reread it for errors. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, but I have to nonetheless 😉

Now, I could quite literally write a book on this, but I shan’t bore you with the details. Suffice it say I want to know the answer to just one question, “Is it like that for you?”

Describe your anxiety below in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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The pile on the end of the desk

If you’ve kept up, I used to work at a law office. If you haven’t kept up, no biggie, just know that I used to work in a law office. Please also note that I have anxiety. (I hesitate to say, “I suffer from anxiety,” but I do, although not nearly as bad as before.)

But anyway, so most days I would walk in to a giant pile of files on the end of my desk or would leave with a giant pile on the end of my desk because the attorneys liked to pile me up half an hour before quitting time.

What did I learn?

That that’s OK. Take your time, and it’ll get done. It’s OK to be piled up, and I applied that knowledge today. I had a LOAD of things to do today, or so I thought. My trouble with anxiety is, if I don’t know how to easily do something, I think it’s going to take forever because I have to research and figure everything out. And today I had to do something new that was overcomplicated, annoying, and took several hours.

Now before you go off wondering why that’s a big deal for me, apparently I’m the only adult in my family capable of learning. My husband and father request and usually require me to make all business transactions and phone calls for them. They are incapable of calling the phone company to ask why their bill is off or when the next one is due, etc. And they’re unwilling to learn how to. If they can’t figure something out, they don’t try, and will wait until they get a cut-off notice before asking me for help. I have to keep a calendar of when other people’s bills are due because of this, and remind them daily until I finally demand to see proof that it was paid, in which I sometimes hear, “Fine. Will you do it for me?”

Sigh.

This is also why my house will never be tidy.

Back to my point. Ah yes, the pile on the end of the desk. So, I get home from dropping my kid off from school and eat a leisurely breakfast before getting started. The anxiety builds, but I tell myself, no it’ll get done. At one time my brain quits, so I take a break, eating a leisurely lunch.( I also had a headache and upset stomach, so said break was needed.) I come back feeling better and finish everything that needs doing, and it’s not even time to pick up my kid from school. Why yes, I am finished with everything. Now to get ahead.

It’s OK. That pile on the end of the desk? Just take it one file at a time. It’ll get done.

Surviving Anxiety and Depression

For whatever reason, whenever someone is mentally sick, they are ashamed.  Why?  Did they do something wrong to cause this mental illness?  I have had many friends with mental illnesses.  All of them were ashamed.  Very few people knew the truth about them.  I don’t think it needs to be that way.  When someone is in a wheelchair, no one assumes “Oh, you were driving drunk and wrecked, you horrible person!”  But when someone is schizophrenic, people give them horrible looks, avoid them, and act like they’re dangerous.  Society needs more understanding of these people.  Society seems perfectly fine with “special” children, but once those children become adults, they’re treated the exact opposite.  Well, I didn’t do anything wrong, and I refuse to be ashamed any more.  I suffer from anxiety, which has led to depression at times.  Here is part of my story.

I’ve had some pretty horrible experiences in my life.  I was strangled on the kindergarten playground when I was 5.  I was bullied horribly by my older brother and his friends.  I was rarely trusted by anyone that wasn’t a teacher or school official.  I was bullied in middle school.  I was so terrified of getting in trouble, I never fought back.  (OK, to be honest, I don’t know if I fought back or not because I have no memory of most of it).  I begged to fight back, but I wasn’t allowed.  Through high school, I was humiliated as many times as possible by a particular teacher.  This also occurred with two professors in college.  I had a husband who completely “changed” who he was two weeks after we got married.  There were girls in college that were just as stupid and mean as middle school.  In fact, the girls that I thought were my friends stabbed me in the back over and over again, in really elaborate ways, to the point of unbelievable stupid, like a movie or something.

So all of this resulted in a fear of people getting close to me (I never made any friends because they were all evil from my experience), rebellion against authority (trying to constantly make up for not “rebelling” and fighting back in middle school), drowning myself in school and later work (at one point I was working 3 jobs-I drove a school bus in the mornings and evenings, made concrete block in the days, and delivered pizzas at night), and who knows what else.

I had several horrible jobs, once I got married the second time.  I worked as a construction secretary who’s superintendent died and the new one’s wife wanted my job.  I was given a 15 minute notice, and their jerkiness cannot be described accurately with words.  Immediately after this, I worked temp for a call center that fired people left and right for no reason whatsoever.  They were so crooked, in fact, they had to change their name to stay in business shortly afterwards.  Desperate for money, I started cleaning houses.  I hate cleaning.  My house doesn’t get cleaned like most people clean theirs.  But I did it.  I finally found a job for a guttering company that accused me of embezzlement and fired me shortly after hiring me.  They never could keep anyone there from what I heard afterwards.  Supposedly they had someone do it in the past, and they could never get over it, accusing everyone all the time from then on.  There’s more after this, and some far, far worse than mentioned.  None were my fault.  But I thought they were.

I accused myself of accepting the wrong jobs, of not handling the bad situations correctly.  But my therapist finally allowed me to realize, it was out of my hands.  But this therapist didn’t come around until much later.

My husband had to take disability.  So now, I have to deal with depression, having ZERO money, and all the hate speech from others about “those people on welfare” and “those ‘disabled’ people”.  After a few years, I had to get a job.  We were going into debt.  I applied at Wal-Mart, the only place to work for over 25 miles.  I got transferred to a department with a bully.  A bully who was rampantly known for trying to get people fired.  In fact, it was so horrible to work in that department, that no one would.  The only way they could get people to work there was to hire new or transfer the new and ignorant.  Hellllloooooo anxiety!!!  I had to start taking medication, for the second time.

My heart rate skyrocketed, and I put on weight, but I was able to go to work.  It was great for months.  I thought I was fine.  I quit the medication because the side effects were going to kill me.  I couldn’t exercise more than 10 minutes, and I was having pains similar to heart trouble in women.  After a while off the meds, the anxiety came back.

Months later, I was transferred to a different department again.  I was happy.  I was thrilled.  I was finally starting to recover from the medication.  But then I found out that Fentress County Board of Education not only hates homeschoolers, they hate Jewish children too.  I had to pull my child out of school.  They gave him zeros on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper because he wasn’t there.  They refused to give him a text book.  I had to start homeschooling, again.  I was happy to spend time with my child again, and to quit worrying about his schooling and lack of education.  Unfortunately, it created even more stress on me, and I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I turned the radio up louder and louder every day until I quit trying to hear it anymore.  I quit eating, only forcing something down every few days to qualm the pains and keep from passing out.  I started having tunnel vision, ringing ears, and night terrors.  I would wake up several times a night in a panic attack.  I went on meds again, but this time, it only made it worse.

Two weeks later, I quit the meds and turned in my notice.  My moment of desperation had come.  Still needing income, all our other dreams shattered, I decided to file for disability.  My friends were supportive.  My family was supportive.  I was in shock.

It’s been 6 months of diet, exercise, and therapy.  I’m still overweight by 20 pounds, but I can exercise again.  In fact, I’m up to running 7 minutes at a time.  I’ve learned and eliminated one of the sources of the anxiety.  I go out in public by myself again.  I make little circles of fabric for some couple in Crossville for next to nothing.  I make a few pennies doing video game reviews on youtube and blogging.  My child has an education again, and I dropped the disability claim.

Why do I write this?  I write this for those out there with anxiety and depression.  You are not alone.  You are worth it.  I have been there.  You are stronger than those without anxiety.  They’ve never had to deal with it.  You have survived.

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