Sitting Still With Anxiety

I’m pretty aware of all my flaws, mostly because if I haven’t already highlighted them myself, then someone else has took immense pride in pointing them out. It’s not all Regina George ego over here. Oh God, I have so many flaws that it’s impossible to list. That’s what a lot of my focus will be steered toward this year: identifying and fixing these flaws. The one I want to focus on today is my attention span. Anybody that knows me has likely now gotten use to the fact that I have this bewildering inability to ever sit or stand still. My focus is very easily pulled, even during mid-conversation. Trying to hold onto my attention for than a few minutes is like trying to cross the Mediterranean on a punctured lilo. I’ll be having a chat with someone and suddenly my mind will go for a wonder elsewhere; I’ll tune into someone else’s conversation or make a non-linear observation and have an uncontrollable need to interject. Before I know I’ve hi-jacked the conversation mid-sentence and mentioned what I’ve just noticed. If I’m having drinks with friends I start to fidget; I can’t maintain eye contact with someone for a lengthy amount of time without an urge to move or clean something. If I see a cup that needs washed, I’ll have to immediately wash it; if I a kitchen top that needs wiped I will whip out a bottle Flash and shoot it at the surface so quick I could rule small parts of the Wild West – like some sort-of bleach toting gun-slinger. People think I’m being rude when I exhibit these behaviours, but I’m honestly not – I’ve always been like this (and no, that doesn’t mean I’ve always been rude.)

I’ve always attributed the above to my anxiety. My mind is constantly jabbering away; it’s always offering up some stupid thought that’s disguised as a great idea and me being me I feel the need to entertain it.  Basically, what I’m pointing out is, I have a finite attention span. You’ll probably get a solid three minutes’ max before my mind starts to scamper off. This spills out across my entire day-to-day life. During work, during coffee with friends, whilst walking home – even during sex. The most ridiculous and inappropriately timed thoughts always seem to make an aggressive appearance during the most incredibly inopportune moments. If I’m having a chat with a co-worker about something work-related sometimes I’ll decide to see how quickly I can recite the alphabet backwards in my head. If I’m standing at a bar, amazingly somehow managing to lure in an attractive guy, everything will go slow-mo for second and I’ll start pondering the mysteries of the universe; wondering what discount Heinz employees get or start contemplating how very fragile mortality is. Before I know it he’s lost interest because I’m behaving in such a way it seems nonchalant bordering on rude. It has even happened several times during intimate engagements. Things will be getting sweaty, racing towards heated, sexy even, and suddenly an unnamed fear will overtake me and before I know it I’m formulating an escape plan in case Word War 3 breaks out or I find myself wondering what gifts the guy I’m with got for his 7th birthday. The worst part is, these thoughts don’t stay silent. I’ll completely-destroy the joys of dry humping by asking what he got for the birthday in question. Before I know he’s sobbing on my shoulder, recalling agonising snippets of his seemingly-bleak childhood whilst I lose my erection and wish I could just go home. I should be listening intently to this never-before-shared story but then it starts in my head ‘Z,Y,X,W…’

Of course, that isn’t the only reason I want to fix this problem. It does have a serious impact on my life in regards to elevating my anxiety levels. I’m hyper-aware of everything but at the same time I totter along missing vital bits of information. My phone is a major tool in stealing my attention and also the downfall of my mood. I get so stressed when people text me massive messages, especially when I’ve got a lot to do. You’ll probably be thinking, ‘dude, just ignore it’ but I have this innate inability to leave anything or anyone unanswered because when it happens to me, particularly if I’m having a bad day, it absolutely reaps havoc with my head. I can’t justly ignore someone when I hate being ignored myself and before I know it I’m fighting sleep and trying to address several friends’ problems when really I should be focusing on winding down myself. I don’t like the idea of anyone suffering, so I’ll always try and help – even though half the time it’s like the blind leading the blind. Hell is being wedged between the realms of slumber and a manically chirping iPhone that’s screaming for attention like a petulant child. This severely weakens my ability to focus and handle big things because my mind is being pulled towards various problems, worries (both my own and my friends) whilst also entertaining every single mundane or unimportant thought that cartwheels through my brain.

Now I’m wondering how I go about fixing this problem. It isn’t as easy as shifting baby fat or learning how to make an omelette; if it was this problem would have been shed ages ago. I Googled my symptoms (rookie mistake) and now after a fairly-panicked and poorly researched self-diagnosis, I’m juggling between several different neurological and mental problems that I could potentially be suffering from – when in reality I’m probably just teetering on the edge of a breakdown. I’ve spent the morning attempting to surf through a tsunami of information, but I got distracted and wound up writing this instead. Rather than call and make a appointment at the doctors I’ve opted for essay writing and Twitter stalking whilst intermittently reaching for my iPhone. On the plus side, if I a police officer ever asks me to recite the alphabet backwards I’m golden.

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