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May 31, 2016 / Angela Sylvia

Anxiety is a Bother

Anxiety gets in the way of a lot of things.

It makes it hard to get out of bed, to set down at the computer and write even so much as a dumb little blog post. It makes it hard to leave the house, to get chores done. It’s even hard to just sit on the couch and read a book, because why, what’s the point, isn’t there something else you should be doing.

Anxiety makes it hard even when you manage to do these things. I edited for two hours, but what’s the point, there’s so much more to be done. It makes it hard to feel accomplished, and easy to feel frustrated as you fall into that awful spiral of comparing yourself. I look at my to-do list with all of its checked boxes, and I still feel like I haven’t done a thing. I might as well just stand in the shower, or lie on the floor, clutching my stomach.

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All those margin doodles…

I’m lucky, though. I have things that have to get done, and an anxiety that is just mild enough that I can do those things at least. I have to walk the dog. I have to buy groceries. I have to make dinner, fold laundry. I have to sit at the desk and pick up a pen, because even if I rip out every sheet of paper I mark, or write just two sentences and fill the rest of the page with swirls and doodles, because going just one day without doing that is worse pain than my anxiety knows how to inflict.

And as I move, my body calms. I can do one more thing, then another. I can go to one more store. I can clean the counter top. I can write one more page, edit one more chapter. It can take days to stop thinking so much on how much I’m failing, how little I’m doing. But I know that this feeling — this awful, bothersome, eternal feeling — isn’t forever, and if I keep pushing through it will fade until I almost (almost) can’t see it anymore. Then I can look back, to meals I’ve made, to piles of read books, to notebooks and journals full of words and ideas, to email chains between me and critique partners, and I can see that I have done something, despite everything inside of my getting in the way.

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