Imagine that feeling you get when you get some sort of shock or terrible news, like your stomach flips over or even feels like it’s been punched. Or maybe that moment when you realise you’ve done something terrible and you’re not sure how you’re going to make it right? Dial that down to about 50% and sit with that for an unknown amount of time. Also add in some thoughts telling you you’re worthless and lazy and what’s even the point of you anyway, you can’t do the thing. You can’t even get out of bed. That’s how I experience anxiety

It would be really great to go for more than two weeks without having a couple of days of really crippling anxiety. Time is not a luxury I can afford at this point in my life and I begrudge having to spend so much of it feeling so stomach churningly anxious for apparently no reason. Being in graduate school is definitely a reason to feel anxious, but the bouts I get so frequently are more than the day to day stress (even with an oral exam looming on the horizon). Some days I can do some meditation and other self care and it will dissipate after a couple of hours and some tea. Other days, like today, I don’t get a chance to open my eyes fully before I’m beating myself up for being a terrible, lazy person who’s good for nothing and who’s advisor is going to send a berating email to for being late (yes, this has been happening recently). Meditation is extremely hard, exercise seems impossible because the sheer spoon-burning effort of being vertical has exhausted you by 11am. Healthy eating goes out the window as you grasp onto any fix that might relieve you of feeling so awful, including that enormous chocolate bar. Even if you do manage to squeeze yourself out into the world and do things, you either feel like you’re wasting your time because you’re not working at full capacity or if you do something well, you can’t enjoy it. Today I did some outreach with high school kids and it went surprisingly well. Everyone else seemed really happy about how it went down and I just felt miserable and sort of shrugged it off.

Anxiety can be really overwhelming for me, and it has the capability of turning me into a really irritable and wretchedly unhappy person to be around. On top of that I feel like I should apologise for it constantly, which I’m getting better not doing as I know it’s not really my fault. So to those who love me and support me, I thank you for being present with me and my anxiety and I hope that this message from the front line can help you to understand what it’s like for me more frequently than I’d like.