To really explain it I'm gonna go through a normal afternoon for me. My current goal is to play one game of chess per day. That's it. So I'm done with work between 5 and 6PM. I get something to eat. I put on something on the TV to watch and slowly, slowly, I start remembering that I should play chess today. And then I start getting this feeling in my stomach. It's almost a nervous feeling but without the jitteriness or any positive side effect. I lay there on my sofa, half-watching whatever I put on, and the feeling grows. Soon enough that feeling has expanded and I can feel it in my arms. I try to calm myself down by telling myself that I'll just give up. I won't do it today. But the feeling doesn't go away. It increases in intensity until I can't stand it anymore. I'm at a junction. Either I make the final call to not play today or I go and play right now. There is no in-between. I go to my computer and I press the "PLAY" button. And I play. Sometimes I'm so anxious after a few moves that my hands tremble a little bit. But as I play on, the feeling dissipates. As I know it will.
Now here's the kicker: this is miles from where I was less than a month ago. A month ago I couldn't even bring myself to press the play button half of the time. The times I did, my hands would shake so much when playing that I had a hard time moving a piece. I would drop pieces because my index finger would tremble so much that it accidentally slipped from the mouse. All this, over a game played online. Against a person I had never met, and probably never will. Win or lose didn't matter. I was like a trembling leaf.
I've tried to describe how I'm feeling in these situations but if you haven't suffered from anxiety you will never fully be able to grasp that horrible feeling. You might tell yourself "Well if playing removes the anxiety, why don't you just play right away?" or "This is just a random person online. They won't remember you two minutes after the game is done." And both of those are true statements but they won't help. Logic doesn't work on me, right now. When I start feeling the anxiety creeping up on me I just lay there, hoping it will pass. Hoping that I've magically found an internal coping mechanism. But I know that I, inevitably, have to expose myself to make it better. Because reading this blog back to myself, I just realized I've only been at this for 3 weeks. And I'm already seeing this much improvement.
It's hard to remember that from time to time. That I am making progress. Because when I lay on my couch, I don't feel that. I feel like I'm back on square one. All the progress just swept away. Not to talk about how exhausting it is. I can't focus on other things because I'm mentally preparing for a huge fight that's all in my head. I'm tired of feeling like this whenever I want to do something that I actually enjoy.
Anxiety is a motherfucker. It keeps me from making the changes I want. I keeps me from living the life I want. It keeps me from even attempting to form proper relationships. Because in order to make the changes, to live my life, and to build relationships I have to let go of my fear. I have to let other people drive. I have to battle my anxiety and not let it dictate what I do or who I am.