My Anxiety makes me feel insignificant, especially in the horse world. My anxiety makes me feel like I am a terrible rider and a terrible horseman who can accomplish nothing. My anxiety keeps me from getting a full night’s sleep, as thoughts and worries from the day bounce around in my head, and while those bounce around, worries for how the next day will go join them.
My anxiety makes sending and receiving texts a nightmare. I worry when I text people and they don’t text back right away. Am I bothering them? Did I say something offensive? Do they just not want to answer? I hate sending the first text, it makes my stomach turn in endless flips and circles. I worry that I’m pestering them, nagging, being a nuisance. If their response is short, I over analyze it: it’s short because they’re irritated I texted them in the first place. It’s short because they don’t care and just want me to be quiet. A simple text such as “Hi” causes me so much anxiety to send out.
My anxiety makes going to work stressful. I work at a barn, with horses, I worry over and over that I’ll miss a little detail and a horse will suffer because of that. I worry that I won’t fix any of the problems I’ve caused with Zoey—that they’ll have somebody else ride her instead—somebody who won’t continue to screw her up. I worry that I’ll never go anywhere with my riding, that my riding isn’t very good. I worry and worry and worry and wind up feeling sick to my stomach. At night I toss and turn as I wonder: will I get the tractor started? Will stalls get cleaned in a timely manner? Can I get up the manure pile…what if I can’t?
My anxiety convinces me that I’m insignificant. That I’m a nuisance to the world and I need to keep my mouth shut, head down and just shuffle my way through life. My anxiety has an annoying, whiney voice that is constantly chattering. She nags me about everything, drowns out any feeling of confidence with a thousand scenarios of “What Ifs”, floods me with them until my ears are ringing and I can’t remember how to function. There are days where I don’t want to get up, out of bed in the morning, I think it’d be better just to lay there all day, avoid any potential problems. Then anxiety voices her What Ifs: “What if you find out you HAD to be at work today, but you chose to sleep instead? What If you find out you had an important call–but you slept all day? What if there’s homework that needs to be done at a specific time–but you slept all day?” They just keep coming and coming, no end in sight.
Anxiety tells me I’ll never make it anywhere in life. I’ll be stuck where I am forever and ever. Anxiety says nobody wants to be around me or spend time with me, that I am invisible to the world. Anxiety says I get on people’s nerves and I should go away, leave them all alone. Anxiety says when people pay me compliments, it’s because they have dark, ulterior motives. Anxiety says a lot of things to me, every minute of every day. Anxiety makes it difficult to breathe at times: the world goes by so fast–but I can’t move. Can’t breathe. Can’t make a sound. It’s all so noisy, the people around me, their voices drone on and on, getting louder and louder until I can’t stand it anymore. Hands over my ears, eyes squeezed shut, rocking back and forth while talking to myself. It’s all overwhelming. I’m going to self-combust, I can feel it, I wish for it to happen, because oh, the relief that would come with it.
When I ride Zoey, and I get stressed out, and the trainer starts to get louder, trying to stop me from entering that dark zone in my head–anxiety starts to scream: YOU’RE A DISAPPOINTMENT TO HIM. HE IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU AGAIN. LOOK, HE’S COMING OVER HERE TO YELL AT YOU–HE’LL HAVE YOU GET OFF AND HE’LL GET ON AND DO IT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T. YOU’RE A SCREW UP SO GIVE UP NOW……..she taunts me and mocks me and makes me hate myself more and more. I see Zoey in the pasture, she nickers and comes to the gate, and I feel a twinge of sadness for her….for getting stuck with someone such as myself…I made a commitment to her the first day I swung my leg over her back…and I intend to keep it…but dammit I worry I’m screwing her up with everything I do. Tears often prick my eyes when I bring her in from the pasture and when I saddle her up—that’s anxiety….trying to make sure I understand how awful a rider I am.
Head pounding. Ears ringing. Eyes burning, I scream internally ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. It is time I get a handle on this anxiety. Anxiety controls my every action, but soon will come to an end. It is time her reign of terror be demolished. I will not be controlled by anxiety’s whiney voice. It won’t be easy, but nothing in life worth going for is. It’ll be painful and stressful—but it’ll happen. She’ll still come around at times, anxiety is a part of who I am, but she won’t be around as often.
I try not to listen to what anxiety has to say, I try to block her out, but she’s been going strong for so long, that’s hard to do most days. But I’ve done it before, on days where I think to breathe, and I listen to my favorite songs in my head, and I smile, because God loves me. Those days, while few and far between, I am able to ignore anxiety, and listen to the voice of God saying “You can do it. You are beautifully and wonderfully made, you got this”.
I have anxiety and I know others with anxiety and how they struggle and how people just blow them off as being dramatic. We are not dramatic and we are not to be blown off. Anxiety is real, anxiety is nasty, anxiety is a b*tch but anxiety doesn’t have to control how we function in life. We can conquer our anxiety if we really try to, if we stop, and breathe and smile, she can’t always be heard.