What It Feels Like to Be Anxious All the Time

Notes about my experience of anxiety

Andrew Macrae

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Photo by Matthias Oberholzer on Unsplash

Here are some thoughts about anxiety. I don’t have any answers, or advice for dealing with it. These are just some of the things I’ve noticed about my own experience.

Alcohol and anxiety

I stopped drinking 136 days ago. I’ve done a five-year sober stretch before, so it’s not the first time I’ve quit. However, I think it’s going to be the last.

This time, it feels solid. I don’t have any cravings. I don’t have any desire to go back to drinking every day. Here’s something I wrote about it:

Since I quit, however, my anxiety has been raging. It turns out I was relying pretty heavily on alcohol to self-medicate and ease my anxiety.

But the medicine is worse than the disease. And it only ever masks the symptoms. It never addresses the cause.

I don’t know how to address the cause. I’ve done years of therapy, and I still don’t know how to stop the anxiety when it kicks in.

I’m better at recognizing it, but that’s less than half the battle.

Maybe it’s not about stopping my anxiety.

Maybe now is just the time to sit and notice, rather than trying to ‘fix’ anything.

How I experience anxiety

It’s a constant background hum.

It feels like my body is in a perpetual stress response. My jaw clenches. I grind my teeth.

I get irritable and impatient. I snap at the people I love. I can’t settle. I can’t make progress on my projects.

I get tunnel vision. I often fixate on something and I can’t let it go. I go into a depersonalized state.

I don’t trust my judgement. I don’t trust my experience. I get tongue-tied and unsure of myself.

I become an unreliable witness to my own…

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Andrew Macrae

Freelance writer and editor. Sign up for my newsletter about writing, freelancing and whatever is worrying me https://tinyletter.com/Andrew_Macrae