Tonight, anxiety has been hitting hard. Tis the season of giving in anxiety’s calendar too I guess! It was doing the usual debacle, of how I’m doing every single thing wrong, and how no one will want to be friends with me anymore. The classic. La de da de da.
Throughout my evening shift at work, anxiety kept throwing snide remarks of how nothing I did was good enough, how I wasn’t a good person, and how yes, this is certainly a good reason to have my heart beating fast and my hands shaking. It’s like Muriel’s sister, Joanie, from Muriel’s Wedding (anyone? It’s one of my favourites!), with her classic line – “You’re terrible, Muriel,” – at every opportunity. With every “you’re terrible, Kaitlyn,” my confidence sinks a little lower, and my hands get a bit more clammy, and I feel like I’m moving a bit too fast. All of a sudden everything will be spinning, and I’ll be spinning too, too quickly and too slowly all at once, and anxiety engulfs it’s prey.
Anxiety, would you ever shut up?
Tonight was rough. There wasn’t a particular reason that triggered anxiety. Sometimes it just happens. However, I made it through work (somehow), and on the drive home, the idea popped into my head that maybe I should say some facts out loud.
This somehow turned into a – goodbye “you’re terrible, Muriel,” and hello, Kid President style, Kaitlyn Talks To Herself Alone In Her Car, Timothy. Pep talk #1.
At first I feel awkward and weird. I’m not one of those people that chats to themselves throughout the day. I bet they would give great pep talks. I got a little nervous that the people in other cars would see me talking to myself, but then I remembered that it was dark and that headlights shadow drivers. During my first few sentences, I gave myself a couple of nervous laughs (as an audidence or a presenter, I will never know), but once I got into the flow of it, things got a lot easier.
Here’s an abridged (eg. minus my own awkward silences and nervous small talk) version of my first ever, self pep talk:
Tonight was tricky. Anxiety was being foul, and you recognised that. Anxiety was probably just heightened because of hormones or something. Hormones can do that, right?
Anyway, what we are going to focus on right now are the facts.
Anxiety was with you at work tonight. It was loud and destructive. But you coped with the shift. You accepted the few surprises as they arose. You managed, and survived through it all, despite anxiety saying you couldn’t over and over again.
You were able to recognise which thoughts were anxiety’s, and which were yours, which is a helpful step. Being able to distinguish anxiety’s lies from your own thoughts makes it a lot easier to argue back, to tag these messages as spam and to send them on their way.
Here’s some more facts. You are not anxiety. You are not depression. You are not self harm. You are not the eating disorder. You are not dermatillomania. Yes, these creatures reside in your brain with you (insert dramatic why oh why?), but that’s all they are. Pesky neighbourhood cats, using your front lawn as a bathroom (in retrospect, it sounds like I have something against cats, but I promise I don’t. Really). But you are in recovery now. You are learning how to speak, loudly, and that you have your own voice. You are learning that your voice is worthy and deserving, and that you don’t have to be buried under the mountain of their squabbling anymore.
The trauma and the mental illnesses that live with you, yes they suck. They are hell over and over again. However, you are not living in this hell anymore. You have found a haven, and you are learning that this haven can be yourself too. Perhaps something good will grow out of all of this someday. Already, it has made you strong. Broken, but strong enough to repair yourself again.
And that, Kaitlyn, is something to be proud of.
A couple more facts to end with:
You are a person like everyone else who you love. You make mistakes. But you are not what anxiety tells you that you are. You are worthy of love and of living.
You are strong.
You are kind.
Kaitlyn, you’ve got this. You can keep on going.”
So there you go. There’s my funny, little, night time, driving, pep talk. By the time I was finished talking, I was really surprised. I felt calmer. I felt less anxious. I felt more in control. The whole “this talking to myself thing is stupid,” had subsided a great deal, and I was a little shocked almost at how effective it was.
From now on, I might try and imagine all the silly anxiety lies are spoken by Joanie from Muriel’s Wedding, just because it makes me giggle every time. That’s all they are, really. Something the authentic me has power over, and can laugh at.