One day, or one moment, I feel pretty good. My head is clear to think, I have the energy to do the things I want to do and I feel confident in my ability to actually get things done. This feeling can last for hours, or days, sometimes even weeks. But then in another moment, I feel a change in the energy around me, a wave coming, I pray it is only a small one and try to dig my feet into the ground. Sometimes it passes over me like a smooth wave that washes over my feet, but sometimes it knocks me over. My feet get swept under the current and I lose sight of where I am and I have trouble breathing. I am not in control of my movements as the power of the wave is too strong and I have no choice but to go with it, hoping that I will be able to bob up for air and my feet will find the ground soon. Sometimes I manage to get back up before anyone even notices I went under, because very possibly, I actually did not move an inch. Other times, I am sure that everyone sees me flailing in the rough water and yet no one comes running to pull me up. Sometimes I hope it’s because no one is looking my way, so just maybe I can catch my breath and pull myself together without having to explain what happened. But other times I desperately want someone to grab my arm and pull me to the safety of solid ground.
Sometimes it starts with tingling in my hands, my heart tightens, I get a lump in my throat and I feel like I may be sick. Other times I am completely numb till the wave is gone, and then I just sit stunned, my body achy from the invisible struggle. In these moments, I am left completely drained and my muscles are sore. I just want to sleep and to cry, but usually crying too exhausting.
I have tried to figure out why these waves of anxiety keep happening because I’ve been asked so many times, but I have no answers. It’s like asking why the waves on the beach keep coming; It’s the tides, the currents, the weather and a million other things that affect our planet. My anxiety is the result of a million little things that I will likely never even know about. The expectation to know exactly what causes anxiety is a heavy burden that I am now trying to let go of. I used to think that I would eventually figure it out. I will read, journal, track my moods, my diet, talk to my psychologist and do all the other things that are recommended. I will eventually know all my triggers. I will learn to control my environment so I avoid those anxiety-inducing events and thoughts and I will be able to see any sign of an attack well in advance in order to change course. But that expectation in itself causes me anxiety. How can I possibly know what is going on in my unconscious mind? We don’t expect anyone else to explain how their unconscious mind works, why do we ask that of people with mental health challenges? So, I am going to try to let go of this expectation and just continue to ride the waves however they may be.