These feelings have grown worse than ever. Or at least it feels like that right now. I am reeling under it almost every single day.
No respite whatsoever. It feels like there’s a monster sitting inside my head, losing no opportunity to shame me at every given chance.
But for the first time I have started addressing my issues appropriately – ‘anxiety’.
Thanks to the chance comment (which I found quite unkind at the time and as a result it made me ponder on it at length) of ‘You go through this same cycle of uncertainty, low confidence and feelings of inadequacy in every new project’ and to the scenes from the show ‘This Is Us’ showing a young Randall Pearson crying before his exams, and his grown up self shutting down with anxiety… that I was finally able to join the dots for my own self.
From my uncontrollable and unreasonable panic before every uni exam, to the avalanche of fears that now drown me in every new project that I undertake… I finally realise that these emotional patterns are connected and have been following me around since years. That both these patterns are the doings of the same old monster. That every time I cried before those exams, it was not because I was being silly – people around me would find it strange because in the end I used to score well in the exams. It was my inability to control my fears. My mind would go into overdrive and make those fears strong enough to make them feel like reality – as if nothing in this world could stop me from failing in the exams, and that that shame would be the worst thing that could happen.
Why is it different this time? How did I identify something is very wrong? And why am I writing about it in a public blog?
Another new project and another strong episode of anxiety attack. What is different this time is that I could sense I was losing out to the anxiety. That these feelings have grown bigger with time and now they are strong enough to physically and intellectually hinder me.
Perhaps this is what is introspection – revisiting your mind talk to analyse the truth behind all the chatter. Everyone has their own version of the mind chatter. In some, it makes them feel entitled to judge everyone’s actions, in some others it makes them feel victimised. It is like an individualised version of the Matrix playing in our heads. In my case, it dominates me with feelings of fear and shame.
I have cried almost every other day. I have felt inadequate, ashamed, incapable, helpless every other day. All happiness seems to have sapped out of me, and I am unable to switch off the chatter for days on end – always whispering to me about my incompetency. But the worrying bit is that I feel like I am now attending work like a dumbed down version of me – unsure, unhappy and incapable of thinking clearly. That I am now feeling both physically and mentally unable to cope with these emotions, and perhaps for the first time unable to critically analyse anything at all… something which I believe is one of my strengths. I am feeling burdened, almost crushed under this pressure.
Just yesterday I came across a Ted talk by Shauna Shapiro. It was a brilliant talk and I had to try very hard to keep myself from howling out aloud in the train. She mentioned the quote from her master that has stayed with her forever – ‘What you practice grows stronger’.
Innocently and unknowingly I have let my mind practice anxiety over the years, and this time around I can really tell that it has grown stronger. I wish all those years ago, someone had recognised the greater devil working in the background, had sat me down and shown me the skills to stop it, or at least to recognise and control it.
But the recent comment forced me to look hard at my behaviour of the past few years, and I realised that I have gone through the exact same emotions in every new project. I can picture myself crying in the stairwell, and inside the toilets of every building that I’ve worked in. Coincidence? Bad luck with projects? No. If there is anything in question here, it is the incapability to control my mind.
Perhaps the anxiety has grown so much that it is taking a dirty turn towards depression? The crushing emotions, feelings of curling into a ball and laying there for hours on end… this time I realise it has gotten out of hand. Given the fact that I have also been living alone for the most part over the last good number of months, it has at the same time both exacerbated these feelings, as well as given me time to focus, analyse and recognise the problem.
So coming to the question about what do I achieve by talking about it on a public blog… perhaps someone somewhere, who is going through something similar, will read this and feel that there’s another person out there who will understand him/her. Because right now, it feels like no one else understands how my mind is working nowadays, how debilitating it feels. Everyday I look at the numerous faces poring over their mobiles on my train ride and wonder if there’s even a single person amongst them facing something similar? I keep looking for an unintended flinching moment that will give away their dark secrets. A blog is easier.
I don’t yet know how best to tackle this problem. If at all I can change. But if there’s someone out there who has tackled this, and tackled this permanently, I’d be keep to learn your method back to reality…
Images in this post are not mine, copyright remains with the owner.