There are days when merely keeping up with your normal activity feels plain hard.
In my case, I normally know those days are about to start since the minute that I wake up.
In a way, I feel my body more tired, my mind busier with inconvenient thoughts, my heart rushing with no real reason behind it.
In those days, I can feel the anxiety welcoming me to a new day, normally when I least expect her.
She rarely says hello to me, she just starts working inside of me, making me feel ill and numb and tired and useless.
My eyes get lost looking at nowhere and every simple activity feels immensely hard and tricky.
I used to be unaware of her presence and thought it was just a really bad day coming out of the blue, but I am undoubtedly becoming better at recognizing her.
She keeps quiet, almost never smiles, she is a work addict that believes that everything you do is never enough, someone dressed in norms and rules and “you are not enough” mantras.
She makes me worry about the future and makes me paint my upcoming days with extreme anguish and insecurity.
She never admits any of my victories.
She never gives me comfort or love or affection.
Some people say she’s the reflection of everything we have yet to achieve, but I think she is just the example of everything that we shouldn’t become.
Had I listened to that mean voice I would continue being a workaholic, someone addicted to the thrill of external recognition to achieve internal validation.
It could have emptied me.
It could have made me feel unloved and undeserving.
Like it still tries to do when it shows up.
I never plan to spend time with her, but she just shows up and starts her performance.
I have to admit that she is quite a great actress.
In those days, I have to take my soul and my heart into special safe places where she cannot reach them.
In those days I welcome my tears as a way to invite her out of my world.
In those days I run or I play my music loud or I watch the silliest movie I can find.
In those days I breathe mindfully, allowing every breath to kick the anxiety out.
In those days I allow myself to forget about productivity and planning and focus on just living instead.
In those days I kiss my own skin and hug my own body tight.
In those days I pray and I write and I tell myself “this, too, shall pass”.
I’ve been through so many days like this on my life and still, fear is always there to take me and tell me I might just not resist this time.
Somehow anxiety makes me feel that fear is my only option.
Can you imagine that?
Can you grasp how evil this dark lady is?
Can you understand me when I say, “I’m just not feeling well today”?
Can you understand how I’d just trade that for any kind of fever?
Can you understand now why some days I have to sleep more or reconnect with myself more or stay alone more or doing whatever I need to do?
Can you read my feelings in my anxious breaths now, when I have nothing to say?
Can you relate to what I live in those days when my head is at war with her?
Can you just forgive me and love me a little louder in those days?
Can you tell me that you won’t leave my side because of it?
Can you tell me that you understand that I am not my anxiety?
Can you tell me that everything will pass?
Those are the questions I cannot say on the days that she flashes my path.
Those are the questions I feel unable to ask when she takes my hand.
Those are the things that I would say in those days to those that have to predict her invisible presence in my own behavior.
Thank you for making an effort to separate my illness from myself.
It really makes all the difference.
It really makes it easier.
Anxiety has been my personal torturer for years, but man have I learned from her!
I’ve learned to laugh at those moments of desperation.
I’ve learned to allow my days to feel lighter.
I’ve learned to see myself broken, and make a brand new version of myself ready for the following day.
I’ve learned to forgive myself for my illness – because it is something I have never ever signed up for.
I’ve learned to tell myself that it’s just a bad day and that “it too shall pass”.
I’ve learned to take a warm bath and leave my anxiety under the water.
I’ve learned to drink a glass of water very slowly while I repeat myself how fascinating I am for surviving this one more day.
I’ve learned to stretch my body and to whisper it “it will be just fine my love”.
I’ve learned that my mind needs to rest after a day like that, and that it is okay to let it.
I’ve learned that the thoughts I have when anxiety kicks in are neither honest nor objective.
I’ve learned that if I protect my heart and my soul enough they can be ready to embrace happiness and love fondly right after she is gone.
I’ve also learned that no matter how well I do on my recovery, no matter where on earth I travel, no matter what kind of job I’m performing, my illness will still show up some days, and that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been resilient enough or competent enough or strong enough to battle it.
It would just mean that I would have a brand new chance to grow even stronger.
It would just mean that I would have a brand new chance to be victorious.
It would just mean that I would have a brand new lesson to learn.
I won’t lie to any of you.
It would still feel terrifying.
It would still feel like a curse.
But it would also make me strong, resilient and mindful, something that nobody else will ever be able to take away from me.