An internal monologue of anxiety
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Night terrors are not something I have. I rarely remember my dreams, but I do wake up scared several times throughout the night. Previously it would take me a few moments to remember where I was. I moved a little over a year ago and it has taken my mind this long to finally see my new apartment as home.
Now, I wake up and a million things tumble through my sleep-hazy mind. What time is it? Am I late? What did I forget to do? The answers are always the same: too early, no, and it doesn’t matter. It never changes, but I go through the motions anyway. I look at my clock and check everything for myself. Then I reach and pet the tiny, furry bodies curled up next to me and around the crown of my head. My cats sleep pressed in close. They curl into me tighter when I wake up, and they perk their little heads up to bump me when I cry. They know, I think, how important they are—that is why they always sleep next to me. Even when I sleep they try and comfort me, to remind me that I am cared for and loved. I forget sometimes.
I am not alone. I have a lover who sleeps next to me every night. Though he tells me never to worry about it, I am constantly afraid that I bother him. That one day I’ll wake him up and he’ll tell me to get out. It’s a silly fear. I know this—almost six years and he will still tell me he loves me. I forget sometimes.
When my alarm finally does go off, I am still exhausted. The sleep I get never seems to be enough. The bed is a safe place. It holds me and whispers soft, comforting things. I get up because my mind is awake now—forcing me to confront my first thoughts for the day. Today I am a failure. I have achieved so little, and that is why I am stuck where I am. I will never progress or matter—that is my identity. Worst of all, I look at my face in the mirror and I pick out the parts that look like my mother. The woman I watched die because I wasn’t strong enough to tell her to look after herself. That wasn’t my fault, but I forget sometimes.
Daily routines stop me from dwelling. Making coffee reminds me that I am more than the sum of my parts. Brushing my teeth means I have a whole day to work towards bettering myself. Feeding the cats reminds me of promises I make to try my best. Saying “good morning” to a sleepy lover assures me that there are people who find me important enough to know. I have to go through all of this—to fight back against the miasma of negativity. Sometimes strength is hidden. I forget sometimes.
Every day is a work day because every day I need to do something to battle against the idea that I will never achieve my goals. That is my greatest fear—that life as it is now is all it will ever be. That can’t be right because I am unhappy, and I don’t deserve to be unhappy. I need to tell myself that. I forget sometimes.
Some days, I will get ready and rush out the door. I am always late because I never want to leave. Inside my apartment I am safe. I can cry or have a panic attack, and no one will be uncomfortable and not know what to do. No one will judge me. I can procrastinate and pretend that time isn’t passing. However, it is, and I can’t be here forever. That is important. I forget sometimes.
The day-to-day job is hard. Put on a smile and wish everyone a nice day, even when they call you a cunt or tell you how important THEY are. This won’t be my life forever. This is just a now thing, not a forever thing. Don’t get comfortable, don’t get stuck in a rut. You are more than this, no matter what that little dark voice inside your head says. Even though you feel like a nobody, and even though you need the money—no one deserves to feel that they don’t matter. That they are a burden and they are lucky to have a job at all. Instead, I work hard and try and remember that I am better than this place. I forget sometimes.
Home is where I want to be. Home is where my work really is—the work that matters. I write my sprawling space epic—my passion project. I tell myself that one day I will be a full-time writer. That is the goal. Everyone truly important to me knows what I am working on now. My mom told them, so I would always have someone to encourage me. I need encouragement when I imagine the rejection of my manuscript. I can’t know if people will reject or accept it. It isn’t written yet. Nothing is set in stone. I forget sometimes.
Recently I have been looking for a different job, something more in line with what I enjoy and something less mind-numbing than my day-to-day. I try very hard. I submit the resume, I write the cover letters—I pretend that filing excites me. If only to get out of where I am now. I want a better job, but that doesn’t mean I deserve one. My lover tells me I do. My friends tell me I am wasting my talents. I need to pretend to believe them. I need to tell myself that I deserve more. Fake it until you make it. Get that entry-level position. Get that experience that could lead to your dream job. I am highly educated and overqualified. I forget sometimes.
I work on my portfolio. I go through all the things I have written and the awards I have won. I am good at what I do. I have awards. I forget sometimes.
Nighttime is easier for me. It is quieter and darker. People are less likely to really see you. I go out—just a minute, I need to put some makeup on. I need to look put together, even if I’m falling apart. I need to not embarrass you. You will be seen with me, don’t you care? Aren’t you afraid people will look at the pair of us and be like, “Why are they with her?” You are my friends or my lover. You say that you don’t care, that you like me just the way I am. I try and believe you. I forget sometimes.
Evenings are spent with tea and quiet words. I keep the bad thoughts at bay. I distract myself with video games or a book. I want to not think about myself or what it is like to be me. I want to be someone else for a while. Someone surer of themself. However, now it is late. Time still passes and I still have a restless night ahead of me. I forget sometimes.
I sit awake and I think about everything—the people I no longer talk to, all of the expectations I have put on myself. I need to be better, but I can’t say that out loud. People will get mad at me; they will tell me I am perfect the way I am and not to rush things. I don’t believe them, but they want me to nod—so I do. I shouldn’t disappoint them. Others will say that what they think doesn’t matter. That I need to convince myself that I am good enough so that I do believe it and I do think it. They don’t know though. They don’t know how broken my mind is. How untrustworthy it is. How impossible it is to convince myself that I am anything other than an utter disappointment to the universe. I am not, but I forget sometimes.
Maybe one day I will remember all those little things I forget. Maybe one day I will get better. Maybe one day I’ll finally grow tired of all of this and seek professional help. That isn’t today though. It won’t be tomorrow either. I’m bad with change. It makes me nervous. I forget sometimes.