Before we launch into today’s little post, I just wanted to say thank you to James for featuring me as a guest blogger on his site. I wrote a new Conversations With Anxiety post all about the struggle to allow yourself time to relax in a world where productivity is prioritised. So if that spikes your interest, go have a peek over there ❤
They say there are always two sides to the same story; this is painfully obvious when it comes to sharing your head with anxiety. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll be familiar with my Conversations With Anxiety series which are dialogues I have with ‘Anxiety’ in everyday situations. I write these as a way of shedding light on the power an anxious voice in the back of your head can have over your actions and decisions, even during the seemingly mundane moments of life. These conversations tend to focus on snapshot moments: perhaps a five minute period from a day isolated from the rest of my existence.
When AutumnSkies emailed me wanting to collab on something to do with anxiety, I knew instantly that taking this concept further is what I wanted to do – by showing how the voice of anxiety can persist throughout a whole day, unrelenting and tireless in its attack. AutumnSkies will be talking about how anxiety impacts her in daily life, so to read a totally different perspective, go check that out! Her insight into what it feels like to struggle with these issues is amazing, and the way she describes these feelings is informative, relatable and eloquent all at once; I definitely recommend having a read!
In terms of representing a daily anxiety experience from my point of view, I decided to pick a work day. I work as a Healthcare Assistant in a hospital where I do 12.5 hour shifts. That’s a long time for anxiety to make an appearance, and of course I am not going to be able to accurately replicate even a fraction of the negative thoughts a bad day can consist of in just one post. But, in the spirit of my other anxiety posts, I will attempt to provide a snapshot into what it can be like, hour by hour, sharing headspace with anxiety.
But first, the day from a rational perspective…
Let’s look at the facts and events of the day as objectively as possible. I wake up, get ready, go to work, take part in a meeting to learn about any new patients and medical updates, go out onto the ward, catch up with colleagues throughout the morning, help patients and senior members of staff throughout the day, have a couple of breaks and go home exhausted at 8:15pm. But how much of that exhaustion is from the physical tasks of the day, and how much of it is from the unseen mental battles I face?
The day from anxiety’s perspective
Now I’m going to describe the exact same day through the voice of anxiety, talking to me about our actions throughout the day…
Oh my god WAKE UP. Quick, quick, quick. The alarm’s going we have to get up. This day is going to be awful, our stomach is tight, our chest is going to explode, what is HAPPENING. I’m scared. Something awful is about to happen. No, I don’t know what. I just feel it. I can’t do this. No no, don’t make me. Please. No no no.
Yeah okay, maybe it’s not so bad. We can do this now we’ve had some breakfast. We’ve done it before. We’ll survive it again. What is wrong with us? Why are we so dramatic? That’s ridiculous.
The hospital is busy today, ugh I hope the ward isn’t too packed. It’s kind of stressful when everyone is running around and watching us do things. The meeting’s in 3 minutes. I feel sick. Yes, I know we do this every single shift. I feel like it’s the first day all over again though. I know what’s going to happen but that’s not helping. I want to leave. Can we go? I can’t believe we have to spend the next 12 and a half hours here. TWELVE AND A HALF.
I can’t believe you just told them all how fine we are. That’s so not an accurate representation of how we’re feeling. Of course I wouldn’t want you to say how we actually feel! What a horrible thought. No okay, you’re right, I didn’t think that thought through. Stop arguing, we need to concentrate on all the information about the patients. That’s our responsibility for today. Focus.
I didn’t understand those words she just said. What did she say?! Write it down so we can ask after. What do you mean you can’t remember?! Yeah I know we’re not supposed to know all the technical terminology, that’s the nurse’s job, but that doesn’t mean I won’t panic when I hear stuff I don’t know.
Time to go out and face the patients. It sounded like two or three of them were going to be challenging. We don’t know how to deal with that?!We’ve done it before? Sure, probably, but I can’t bring to mind anything helpful from those experiences right now. It all feels new.
You’re gonna run out of things to say to him, move away. Make an excuse or something. But not one that makes us look socially awkward. Wooow okay, stuttering something about checking on a patient up the corridor? That was awful. He’s going to think we hate him. Great.
It goes that way right? Right? Yeah we’ve done this many times but I still feel like we don’t know? Are you sure?
That woman is smiling at us. You think it’s just a kind patient? Yeah right. More like she’s smiling out of pity.
The phone’s ringing. The phone is ringing right now. No one is picking it up. Do we have to do it?! Are you sure no one else is coming? Fine, we’ll do it. Come on. Just breathe.
Did you get all the information from the call down? I felt like I couldn’t hear it properly, it was too fast. And then he spelt out that name and the letters all scrambled and our hand shook and a fog set in and I didn’t get them down. Did you get it? Why can I not spell something out when someone says it over the phone? That’s so stupid. What are we, four years old?
Did you really just check three times if they ordered jelly and ice cream? They said no the first time, why did you leave it in front of them?!
I’m too tired for this. It’s all too loud, it all hurts. I want it to stop. Please.
I don’t know if that’s the right bag for the mattress. Nooo we can’t ask about that though, that’s a stupid question. Nah, the answer is obvious, of course it’s this one. But wasn’t there a different colour one? No, we know this. We don’t need to ask. Don’t ask.
…okay no we should check. Is she free? She looks busy, oh no, she’s gonna think we’re really annoying.
Okay, no, yeah, I was right the first time. That was a really stupid question. She thinks we’re incapable now. We are though, so I guess she’d be correct. Wooow. Why the hell did we ask that?! WHY.
Sorry I’ve been quiet for a couple of hours, you must’ve missed me. You didn’t? That’s rude. I couldn’t help noticing you’ve got a spot of pasta sauce on your uniform. Have you seen it? Well I’m sure everyone else has. It looks like you can’t even feed yourself, let alone help other people eat.
Why are we here why are we here why are we here get us out get us out now now now.
So close to the end, please let it end without anything else happening.
That day was… I don’t even know. Let’s just get home. Don’t forget to say goodbye to our colleague. Wait, what did she just say? That the day was a bit boring and not much was going on?! Ha, right…
I hope these sorts of posts provide insight into anxiety for those who don’t experience it, and helps those who unfortunately do, feel a little less alone. Of course, hearing about my day from anxiety’s perspective alone makes it seem incredibly negative. As I said at the start of the post, this is only one side to the story. I do actually like many aspects of my job and have learnt a lot working in healthcare.
I’m really proud of myself for pushing through the difficulties and getting positives out of it. I’m leaving this job in a couple of weeks but it feels like an accomplishment that I’m leaving due to my desire to pursue other things, rather than feeling forced out of the job by fear. I nearly left in March because of anxiety, but I didn’t. And persistence has paid off: no matter what I do in the future, my confidence has grown through tackling numerous anxieties at work. I am stronger because of it, and I will go on conquer bigger things, even if they feel impossible at the start.
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