Anxiety, paranoia and leaving the house

This post is less a factual post about anxiety and more about my experience with it.

It’s strange the place I am in at the moment. I often feel anxiety when my mood is low but at the present my mood is stable. I am okay; but at the same time I am not. I worry constantly. My thoughts are not rapid and I am not jumping from one idea to another. This is not mania. My thoughts are not slow and weighed down with self hatred. This is not depression. This is different. My thoughts are constant at a regular pace but are unwavering. Even when I try to distract myself they are still there. Once I deal with one worrisome thought another one replaces it. No matter how hard I try I rarely get breaks from this anxiety. Recently I have been trying mindfulness, and not in a half hearted way, in a fully-throwing-myself-into-it way where I apply it throughout the day to many circumstances. It is helping. I find ‘one-mindfully’ doing a engrossing task helpful as it helps me only think about what I have to do. However, soon after that task is done the worry is back. I struggle to just sit with it and do nothing. My mind refuses to go blank.

Sometimes I feel so exhausted and overwhelmed with my mind. I find a way to scare myself at any time of day. I fear that the shelves will fall on me, that I have left the hob on or someone has climbed through one of the windows (that I am sure I have closed). It’s a weird world inside our heads isn’t it. I often find myself dazed and stuck inside my head, losing minutes to hours at a time.

Another way anxiety affects my life is by isolating me. This time last year I was unable to leave the house alone without paralysing anxiety. I was scared of being attacked or being hit by a car or anything horrible that could happen (but isn’t likely).  None of those things have happened to me but even typing them makes me nervous as if I am tempting fate. It is important to face our fears so that is what I have been doing. It’s called graded exposure. I can go out on my own now, even catch a bus and walk around town. I still worry but I don’t have panic attacks like I used to and I sometimes even feel confident (I am working on that). It is a step in the right direction but I still get set backs. I try to leave the house everyday but sometimes this isn’t possible, for example if I am really depressed and can’t get out of bed. I often get the feeling like I am being watched and this gets really bad and I become very paranoid when I am depressed and start believing some of the lies my brain tells me. It is that paranoia that makes me never want to step foot in the outside world again. But I do, I keep ignoring those thoughts and getting on with my life and soon (hopefully) I will be able to get a train on my own without panicking and live a bigger more adventurous life. For now I am happy getting to places with people and gradually exploring the edges of my comfort zone until I am not terrified anymore.

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