On the days my busy-flitting-exterior self catches up with my racing mind, you’re really going to regret asking me about my day. I guess that’s the downfall of living a high-functioning life with anxiety. Nobody would ever believe something was wrong because if you ask me, I’m fine. Really, I am. But just hear me out.
People tell me I’m a half glass full kind of person. But actually, my glass is always full – in fact, even when it is full, I see the space just right under the brim. It’s that space that drives my anxiety into overdrive. Just like at Starbucks, when they ask people if they need room in their coffee for milk. I want a full cup of coffee but I also need the milk.
“Think of it as that “everything is fine” meme – you know, where the dog is sitting at the table drinking coffee, while it’s house burns down around it? Only you’re saying that while rushing around the room, half-blind, trying to put out the fires burning all around you.”
I recognize the signs – it’s not that I don’t. If anything, I actually think I’m too aware of my issues and getting in tune with what I’m feeling, is my ultimate vice. I guess deep down I know that if I’m not driven by this fear – everything around me, will shatter. The heart of what I do, is driven by my anxiety, without it – the passion dissipates, the running slows down and worst of all – I lose who I am. You can’t smooth the edges of a crumpled up piece of paper, right?
It’s this constant churn of anxiety that ironically drives me to be successful. It impacts my performance and 9/10 times the outcome is positive. Call it my big ass ego that hangs over my head, but that less than perfect score makes me work harder than ever. My idea of perfection is having something work out exactly the way I envision in my mind. When things don’t go according to my plan, I find it easier to overwork to compensate, than admit defeat.
“Yes of course!”, “Give me a sec”, “Don’t worry, I’ll handle it” – I say these words on auto-pilot. On many occasions, I’m there when you need me. But on those rare days, when those words consume my day, it takes awhile to come back from it. I should find balance? Hard to, when everything is a priority. Seriously, everything.
There are nights when I’ve had a productive day, my completed to-do list is thrown out yet my mind races, itching to start the day again.
Imagine flying high up in the sky, for the first few moments it’s absolute bliss, but moments later, it becomes drop-dead exhausting. Sometimes when I’m flying so high, it’s hard for me to remember things that keep me grounded. When this happens, I go for walks, being intune with my senses remind me that I’m human. I connect with things I see, things I smell and things I touch. I take a deep breath and suddenly things aren’t so cloudy.
Here is where things get real. You’ll see me arrive exceptionally early to work, but that’s because I’ve lost time. I’ll message you out of the blue to check-in and you’ll think it’s sweet, but that’s because I need reassurance that you’re okay. I’m proactive and organized because I have a fear of driving people away. I’ll break your heart before you break mine. When I’m unable to shake the perfectionism, it’s procrastination at it’s finest. I don’t choose to be up during odd hours of the night but when evening hits – I get amped. Burning the midnight oil allows me to perfect things already done, create new ones and polish it all. The Type A/calm demeanor that everyone sees, that’s assumed to be ‘part of my personality’ – I can’t tell you if that’s actually me. This organized facade I’m putting on, has me searching answers to, “Who am I, outside my anxiety?” One that I’m not even sure has an answer.
So if you ask me how I’m doing and I say I’m fine. Just go with it until I tell you otherwise.