Anxiety evaded me.
The recent appearance of a novel kind of lurky, threatening anxiety for me, along with a chance Instagram meme sparked (lots of) reading (of course) into my quotidian mind.
I discovered that contrary to what I’ve always thought, anxiety isn’t necessarily conscious barrage from incessant worry, overt stress, fear and inner friction.
It can be elusive, defined far more broadly and doesn't have to elicit negative emotion. It can just be having so many neutral thoughts you can't focus or sleep, hypervigilance, overstimulation, overanalysis, high sensitivity to your environment and can show up as physical symptoms like fatigue, poor digestion and jumpy legs. Even just an indefinable but pervasive 'feeling'.
These all sounded very familiar...
I concluded with a self diagnosis. I’m Rachel and (at the risk of reducing myself to a label) I’m anxious.
I will say here that I’m not sure ‘anxiety’ and being ‘anxious’ are the same things, but for the sake of brevity I will use the terms interchangeably.
I don’t suffer from the tormenting nervous tension, unease and panic that terrorises many anxious people but it’s its own kind of fantod; rather than feeling like a parasitic attachment that I can't shake off, my anxiety is actually part of me.
I’m a Virgo sun and moon signs, a life path 11, an enneagram 5 (4 wing), I have Mars in Virgo — basically, it's in my stars, my DNA, to be governed by intellect and analysis. It’s a huge part of my navigation system.
Rather than the infamous doom that many anxious people report feeling, the defining characteristic of my anxiety is a lifelong feeling that I can’t keep up with life to be able to fit in everything I want to do. Like I’ve missed out on something before I’ve even gotten there.
Existential FOMO. A press at the back of my skull, reminding me to live up to my own illimitable expectations.
It also shows up as such a full head at nighttime that my head hitting the pillow sets off a cascade of mental randomness and overthinking that keeps me alert for hours after I felt tired. overanalysing the potential outcomes of future situations, continually trying to put myself in other people's shoes to assess events from their perspectives, second guessing how social events will play out, overstimulating myself with too much reading and information, and high sensitivity to my environment.
Despite the mindfulness and meditation I do, being anxious evaded my awareness. Which is testament to its pervasive insidity.
In fact it’s probably a reason why I’m so drawn to my practice, because it’s a direct channel to space and quiet that allows me to hover up out of my mind.
I’d call it high functioning anxiety, it’s not debilitating but all of the mental processing can wind me into a pickle, feed into exhaustion and create low level, nervous system disrupting stress.
It’s uncomfortable and distracting but I don’t believe this new-found, old anxiety I’ve discovered is an inherently bad thing if I learn to read it and slow down when it tugs at me to speed up.