One of the worst things about anxiety – apart from the constant, crippling fear, of course – is knowing that it is stealing so much of my life away from me. Stuff other people take for granted, like chatting with a friend on the phone, going to the post office, or going to see a movie are things that take planning and double-checking and literal hours of thought. There is no room for spontaneity in my life. There are no last-minute changes. There aren’t any just-for-the-hell-of-its. Instead, I get to spend my time memorising fire exits and bathrooms and phone booths and wifi hotspots and emergency telephone numbers and making sure I always have an escape route open for when that inevitable panic attack hits and I have to get out now.
I don’t go to parties. I don’t use public transport. I don’t chat to my neighbours. I don’t make small talk with store clerks. I don’t get involved with real life hobby groups. I don’t keep in touch with people from school. I don’t have a job. I couldn’t even finish fucking high school. Some days it’s difficult to go outside and check the letterbox. Other days – the worse days - I turn off all the lights and sit quietly in the dark when I hear my neighbours come home because I don’t want to remind them that I exist. The worst of all are the days when I have to ring my mother – my mother, and I’m nearly twenty-seven years old – and ask her to buy groceries and bring them to my home because I haven’t eaten in days because I’ve spent the last week being too afraid to leave the house and buy food.
I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to know that this is all the life I’m ever going to have. I don’t want this twisting, knotting fear that builds up in my chest when I think about doing something that would make me happy, like sitting in a park reading. I don’t want the hysteria and the shaking and the crying and the nausea and the self-harm when I try to do something that makes me happy and end up being punished by my own fucking mind for daring to do something with my life. I don’t want the exhaustion that comes from plotting and carrying out a successful mission, like going to a supermarket and buying food. I don’t want any of this. I don’t want my life to be stolen away from me by fear.
I don’t want to live like this.