The Morning Is Just A Few Hours Away
I've never not been a worrier.
I can’t remember a time in my life when thoughts beginning with what if weren't buried somewhere deep in my brain. It’s been there since before I can remember; certainly before I had any real names for it. It was my tears whenever I forgot my homework in primary school, or when I couldn't find the words I needed to explain myself. It was there when I was helpless, when I was too young to understand it. Before I had words like anxiety or apprehension or even worry, it was there, like a second shadow, always looming on the periphery.
I say never not instead of always, because the former implies the possibility of an absence.
As a child, I would cry a lot over silly things like forgetting my homework or my PE kit or getting told off. Things that didn't matter at all in the grand scheme of things but worried me so much that I would cry. And every time it felt the same. Familiar. In a really old journal, my childhood self describes it as living in little bubble of fear all the time, and strangely enough that's still how I would describe it now.
But then one day the fear went away as easily as it had come. I stopped crying when I forgot my homework or my P.E kit or when someone told me off. I realised, perhaps, that these things weren't important and so seemingly I stopped worrying about them. And for years I was fine. My childhood worry-wart stage seemed to have passed. Then I went to high school, and a lot happened so near the beginning that it was if that little shadow crept back to me.
I won't lie, I actually used to love the high that worrying gave me — the hours before a test when I would ride the wave of glittering panic, my fingers and toes tingling with anticipation. Then I would feel the heavy needle of my anxiety shift into its groove as I sat down at my desk or stepped out onto the stage, and with my adrenaline-flushed cheeks I would outshine everyone else. Worrying made me a superbly good performer. Afterwards I would crash, hard. There was never a moment of triumph, no feeling of success — only a weepy, high-strung post-performance haze.
I wish I could tell you that there’s an end to anxiety. I wish I could say that I took medication or discovered the healing power of long walks or learned to control it, but none of that would be true. Every day this shadow follows behind me, filling the little bubble surrounding me with things to worry about. Some days I can outrun him for longer than others, but there’s never a time when he doesn’t catch me. I am still an excellent performer, but I still crash and cry afterwards. I jitter and skitter through my days until, if necessary, I can drug myself to sleep at night. By now, this is the only way I know how to manage things; it’s a system of sorts. although it doesn’t offer much relief.
I can’t say what my life would look like without anxiety, but I know that even with it, I’ve managed to create something good. That might sound absurdly hopeful, but I can’t help it. The only way to live with it is to be absurd about it, even in the face of all the known facts. So I pace and cry and sometimes don’t sleep and drag myself to therapy when I need it and take Kalms and believe so hard in never-not instead of always. The idea that this shadow could be here forever is unbearable, so I stick with never not when I can.
I have never not lived like this.
But I could someday.