Writing lists to remind me to write lists & other panicky filled habits.
For years, I thought the way I behaved fell into one of two categories.
- Just things that I’ve always done, so why are you looking at me like I’m insane?
- Really fucking odd and I’m never going to admit to doing this incase I actually do get locked up.
And in a quest to make myself feel better about my life, I asked some other anxiety struck comrades of mine how they behaved when they were feeling particularly ‘twitchy’.
And finally, I did feel a bit better about my life.
Because it made me realise that the seemingly odd things I was doing were actually seemingly normal amongst other people like me.
So that was nice.
Anyway, here they are.
Things that we do sometimes or all of the time.
Sometimes in the height of an anxious period.
Sometimes just on a Thursday afternoon because, to be honest, this shit is just second nature to us lot.
- List writing. Writing all of the lists. Writing lists which actions include writing other lists. Jesus, I’ve made a second career out of publishing lists online*
Seriously, my life is one long list. I am so worried that I will forget even the smallest thing that I write everything down. I’m beyond worried about forgetting stuff. I’m near enough convinced that I’m so useless that I’ll forget everything. So much so, that I’m sure it’s made my short term memory pretty dire.
At work, if someone asks me to do something, I don’t just write down the action, I find myself near enough transcribing their entire bloody spiel into my notebook in case something important is said and I forget.
I write lists, and then I rewrite them as if this bizarre ritual will cement the actions further into my brain. Problem with lists for an anxious person is there is a physical reminder of more things to worry about.
Bit of a killer that.
I write lists for work. I write lists for my blog. I write lists for things I need to remember to buy in Primark.
Fuck, I wrote a list last time I went on holiday that actually included ‘shave legs, pluck eyebrows, brush teeth’, like I was ever going to forget to do those things.
*I’m very aware that this is turning into another list and the irony of that is just too much.
- Never answering the phone.
BECAUSE THAT CALL COULD BE THE END OF THE WORLD.
But seriously, the pure fear that I get when the phone rings is a joke.
Nine times out of ten it’s just PPI.
But my anxiety thinks it’s a terrorist and they’ve got a loved one hostage. Or it’s my Mum ringing to tell me that something terrible has happened to someone. Or it’s a call that my best mate is making to have a go at me for having done nothing in particular.
Or it’s a call that will end in a break up.
Or, you know, I’ll have to use my voice and I worry that it sounds like a man’s so I don’t like doing that either.
Deleting voicemails without listening to them also falls into this category. This is a really common one amongst. For reals.
Like genuine fear to hit play incase it’s some really bad news and then it’s there for us to listen to over and over again.
- Hiding post.
But for so many years my mail has lived in one place. And one place only.
Under the microwave.
I don’t know if it’s the worry that the contents will be bad news, and being on paper means there’s a physical reminder so I don’t want to look at it.
Maybe it’s a weird concern surrounding envelope glue.
I don’t what my beef is, but apparently it’s common.
- Standing up against the wall when being down the tube.
Like at any given moment I’m going to take complete leave of my senses and take a running jump in front of the next train.
I stand so far up against the wall, I might as well be a fucking billboard.
I know I won’t jump. I know the chances of me being pushed are about as high as me actually winning the lottery.
But I just don’t trust myself.
And because the whole thing is such hard work, if I’m in a real bad patch, I get the bus EVERYWHERE.
Like even if it’s going to make my journey two days longer.
I will take that.
- Re-reading text conversations.
In fact, do you know what, I’m going to dedicate an entire chapter to how WhatsApp has caused me to have a near mental breakdown.
But before then.
Those quick snippet text messages that remain on your phone as a constant reminder of every funny, arrangement based, slightly pissed, slightly emotional text you’ve ever sent.
I read them.
And then I read them again.
And then sometimes, when four days have passed and I’ve not heard from the recipient, I read them again and try and pull apart my normally witty responses and mull over if they perceived it in the wrong way.
It could be a text to my best friend, and I could spend hours worrying about the way it was crafted.
It could be a single text to my boyfriend, that if not responded to instantly, would leave me alone and potentially 85 with nothing to show for my life but a cat.
I don’t do this anymore, but it took YEARS to break the habit.
– Breaking into a sweat when someone stands over my screen when I’m trying to work.
Please. Don’t. Watch. Whilst. I. Fuck. Up. This. Very. Simple. Task. That. I. Do. Perfectly. Correctly. When. You. Are. Not. Watching.
Please just give me your feedback, let me make a list, obvs, of things I need to change and let me go away and do them quietly on my own please.
Please don’t look at me.
It makes my stomach knot. Literally.
- Checking my bag. Constantly.
Just to find out that, yes, everything you know you packed is still in fact in your bag and hasn’t grown legs and run away from you.
Better check again tho, just in case.
When I’m bad, I spend the entire journey from my office to the train station on the bus (about 25 minutes – would be 5 if I took the tube but, hey can’t run that risk can I) taking everything out of my bag, looking for my Oyster card, finding it, putting it somewhere safe and then doing the whole thing again like 30 seconds later.
- Becoming very fearful of newness
This is an odd one, and a broad one. But I’ve stayed in terrible jobs before now, because starting afresh is ten times scarier than watching your life disappear sitting in a windowless box with a twat for a boss.
I’ve gone back to boys that were never right to begin with, because starting again with someone new caused some sort of electrical lightstorm in my head.
Right down to watching new films.
Well what if I don’t like it? What then? That’s just a waste of time.
And I spend 90% of my day worrying about running out of time so better off just watching something I know I’m going to enjoy.
- Not sleeping
You know, because you’ve got so much to fucking worry about.
Not for holiday. I wish. That’s another chapter.
I mean, just for going to work.
I might potentially have to maybe go straight out after work even though I’ve made no plans so must take two changes of shoes and an entire make up kit because I’ll just be worried that I look like shit if I don’t.
And I know I’m meant to be going out for lunch, but I need to prepare for that being cancelled so I’ll take 12 snacks and a pasta bake.
Literally like a walking, well-heeled cart horse, every day of the bloody week.
- Not being able to commit to plans.
Because putting something in the diary that’s anything more than 3 weeks away puts really awful knots in my stomach.
And means I’m tied down to something, and if something else comes up I’m going to have to tell someone ‘no’ and that’s just the worst.
So if I just keep myself available and free than I won’t have to let anyone down.
And basically means that I don’t ever do much ‘just in case’ and oh wait, have more time to SIT AT HOME AND WORRY.
- Google medical conditions.
My eye just twitched, just once. But I’ve definitely got glaucoma.
Anxiety itself can do some really weird shit to your body so I’ve learnt. In the not so distant past, even my doctor sent me for tests for diabetes because all of my symptoms married up with a diabetic.
I was just pissing so frequently because I was so wound up my mouth dried up from stress so I was drinking tonnes of water.