Last night on The Anxiety Diaries, Wanda wouldn’t shut up about sugar and Martha started hallucinating in the middle of the night. Will she get any sleep tonight? WHO KNOWS! It’s all going on in Martha’s head, stay with us folks!
22.46 – Whatsapp with Mr PhD
Me: I have a question. What’s the difference between a delusion experienced as part of psychosis and a fear experienced as part of anxiety?
Mr PhD: Basically…the fact you’re asking me the question
Me: Oh ok, the self awareness
Mr PhD: Exactly. Just curious?
Me: No I had a bad night and was checking I hadn’t developed psychosis
Mr PhD: Not yet kid. It’s a pretty blurred line at times which makes it bloody scary, but the fact we’re talking about it tells me you’re okay. Well…as okay as you can be.
I still feel like death. Is it possible that I close my eyes but don’t actually sleep? I shuffle out of the bedroom. Since the 2am crazy explosion, Boyf has suggested we leave the hall light on and shut the kitchen door at night so I won’t be scared of it when I come out of the bedroom. The kitchen door might be shut but there’s still someone behind it. I shower and pause by the window. I should open it to let the steam out. There could be someone waiting to jump in. It’s a tiny window you couldn’t jump in it very easily. Maybe climb. But it’s light outside now. Creepy men/creatures hide in darkness only. I risk it and push open the window before hurrying out of the bathroom and closing the door behind me.
We’re walking home from the tube station. My muscles tense as we walk along the part of the road that’s between two parks. It’s pitch black in both, hiding all manner of who-knows-what. A rabid animal. A demon. A psychopath or two. Maybe an army of zombies? At least on my side is the one with the fence. That probably won’t stop much though. Just keep walking. Try counting down from 10 and back up again. Yeah I know that does sod all, thank you Wanda. If you’re not going to say anything helpful, kindly piss off.
I’m in bed. I need the loo again. I should stop taking water to bed. But I have a cold and if I wake up without water I’ll dehydrate and I’ll have to get up anyway, just to get a glass of water. The hall light is on this time though. While this was a good idea in theory, I haven’t told Boyf that it’s still scary – just a different scary. What’s the point in telling him something he can’t fix? Instead of bad things hiding in total darkness, it now just looks like those alien movies where the spaceship door is surrounded by a blinding light, and the person opens it and is never seen again. Never underestimate my brain’s ability to replace one irrational fear with another, literally overnight.
Come on don’t be a twat.
I get up and stand by the bedroom door for a while. I slowly pull it open and propel myself into the bathroom. Okay I’m in. I thought I pushed the shower curtain back before I went to bed? I probably didn’t. Except I definitely did. There’s no one behind it anyway so why are we even having this conversation? I go to the loo and can hear something outside the bathroom window. It’s definitely out there. No it’s not. Yes it is. I flush and wash my hands, gripping my fingers with stern concentration. I’m just here, alone, washing my hands. Soap, water, skin, no one’s behind me, soap, skin, fingers. I like the soap smell, there’s someone behind me, CONCENTRATE ON WHAT YOU’RE DOING, pressing on my knuckles, I’m just washing my hands, soap, water, skin. I catch myself in the mirror. I’m a mess. I grip the sink. Stay in this moment, there’s no one behind you. It’s time to turn around and go back to bed. But I can’t. I can. I can’t. I have to. If I turn, there will be someone waiting for me. No there won’t. If I turn my back on the mirror something will come out of it. No there won’t. There’s no safe place in here, so you might as well get it over and done with. Bedroom, bedroom, bedroom.
I take a deep breath, turn, and run out of the bathroom without turning the light off – there’s no time for that. Ignore the demon in the kitchen, the man approaching the front door or the creepy psycho hiding behind the sofa. None of them are there. My hand grips the door handle and I’m back into the bedroom. My heart’s in my mouth but I force myself to slow down and shut the door quietly so I don’t wake Boyf. I get into bed and exhale. He’lll tease me tomorrow for forgetting to turn the bathroom light off again.
The cold has gone to my lungs and I can’t breathe. My routine is much the same, there’s still someone behind the kitchen door. I push open the bathroom window and snatch my arm back in before something can grab my wrist. I imagine a noise behind the bedroom door and am instantly convinced that someone is in there pressing a pillow over my boyfriend’s face. There’s no one in there and if I burst in he’ll wake up. I already kept him up one night this week and apparently I’ve been mumbling in my sleep. I could check. Just quietly stick my head round the door. But if I check, I’m acknowledging that there is a real possibility someone is in there killing him. Which might make it happen for real. Except that I don’t have superpowers, I can’t just pull things out of my head and make them real. But if I don’t check, then I’m the heartless monster who could have prevented her boyfriend’s death by just giving a shit and taking a few seconds to open the door. I do give a shit. Of course I do. That’s why I’m dithering outside the bedroom door. He’s probably fine.
I’m at work, in the toilet cubicle with the really loud hand dryer. I hold my hands underneath it and the resulting noise is an assault on my ears, scrambling my brain to the point that I’m instantly terrified. I look at the mirror that spans the whole of the back wall and am sure something will come out of it. Or something will appear behind me because I cannot hear anything but this hand dryer. I root myself to the spot. Breathe in. Breathe out. If I die in here no one will find me for ages. Breathe in. Breathe out. It’s too loud. It’s too loud. Breathe in. Breathe out.
It occurs to me that a bizarre number of anxiety incidents this week have been toilet related. Well I suppose it’s the only time you’re always alone. Alone is the issue. Having said that, needing to be accompanied into the toilet would be a new low. Let’s try and avoid that one eh?