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Anxiety is a funny thing. As much as I would like to blame my lack of frequent posts on simply laziness, I know that isn’t it – rather, it’s a complicated mess, different strands of different fears merging into one. I’m sure those of you who suffer from writer’s block may empathise. It’s not necessairly the fear of putting pen to paper or sitting down to write, it’s the fear of trying to write and nothing coming out. I hope you all will forgive me for this and be patient with me. Thank you again for all the support so far.
When I attempted to go outside for the third day of this self-induced challenge, it was terrifying. Despite being sat on a ledge on my own driveway, not having gone to a crowded place, the adrenaline made everything feel much more intense. A car driving past transformed into a terrifying, roaring beast. A couple walking along my road morphed into two large pairs of eyes, staring intensely at me.
The sounds and sensations kept knocking on my heart, each hit spreading the adrenaline further and further through my body.
I was shaking. I felt like crying and giving up.
But, I was determined. and the one trait I pride myself on is my willpower.
So, I stayed outside. I opened my notebook and began to write.
It was an extremely weird, almost out-of-body experience. I curled inward onto myself, my body bent over my notebook like a witch hunched over her cauldron. What I wrote certainly was not magic though.
I couldn’t concentrate, in the sense that my poetic brain was being overridden by my anxiety. I couldn’t tap into that slowness and stillness that allowed me to play with words and write.
So, instead I wrote down what I was thinking and feeling, nothing poetic just simple observations. Suddenly, I found those sensations that were causing me pain were in my control. On the page, I could turn them into anything I wanted. That couple, that car, all became characters in a world I could create, free of anxiety.
But as I continued to write, a crow that had been hoping about on the road opposite me flew over. They too became a part of my fictious world, my poem, but also my real world; I felt comforted, like someone was watching over me, like the universe had sent me a guardian. And in that moment, I felt my heart-rate slow down just a little.
After discussing this with my therapist, she told me that what had happened is I essentially pushed myself out into the deep end too soon. I had gone outside without my headphones, which are my usual coping mechanism to help me deal with anxiety. A good analogy she gave me was that if you go camping, you’d take everything you needed with you. If you ended up leaving behind things you needed to bring with you, you’d feel lost and dissapointed. So next time I will be taking my headphones!