We’ve all had our mornings when getting out of bed is especially hard. Some days the dreary, rainy weather gets us down, and other days maybe we just didn’t get a full night’s rest. These mornings happen. For anyone that suffers from anxiety, getting out of bed can sometimes take on a whole new meaning.
I can recall so many high school mornings, waking up with a sinking feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach about facing my day. Forcing myself up was worse than taking any test or facing any mean-tongued bully. My only enemy was myself.
When I would finally get myself out from the comforts of my little room, my anxiety would put me in a physical state of sickness; I had no reason to be anxious about my day, and I didn’t hate school. But often times I would wake up only to run to the bathroom in waves of nausea and beg my mom not to make me move for the day.
Days like these come less and less for me nowadays. I stay busy, which mostly fuels me to get up and get on with my life. Keeping a routine in college has definitely minimized these feelings.
There are some mornings, though, that drag me down for no given reason. After a great night’s rest, and a busy, likely exciting day ahead of me, I never expect to wake up weighing myself down. Just a few weeks ago I had one of these mornings. I had back to back meetings and class throughout the day, starting at 9 o’clock in the morning, and going until 7:30 or 8 o’clock at night, with a break only for dinner. Busyness, to me, was a saving grace.
I woke up to my tongue feeling stuck to the bottom of my mouth, lungs heavy, and toes tingling. My anxiety became an anchor, my bed the bottom of the ocean, and suddenly I was drowning in something that I had no choice but to get out of. My day still had to go on; there was work to be done, meetings to be attended, and class material to learn. Fighting from the comforts of my polka-dotted sheets is often the hardest struggle of my entire day.
As I continue to write this, I am overwhelmed by finger-shaking anxiety; the type that makes it difficult to hold a cup of coffee without quivering the hot liquid all over your bare hands. When my anxiety takes control, the feeling of fight-or-flight that floods my system is nauseating, and I am grateful to have a solid enough Internet connection that Bon Iver can pulse through my ears in a sad attempt to soothe nerves.
In cases like these, uncomfortable encounters with potentially-dangerous strangers are a reasonable cause to enact the worst physiological responses of my anxiety. But on days like a few Tuesdays ago, there is no rhyme or reason to the creeping feeling that settles in the pit of my stomach. There is no two-chapter exam that I neglected to study for. There is no unsettling man with his hand in his pocket, telling me the police unjustly kicked him off his last train. There is only me, my brain, and my anxiety.
The hardest part of these moments is not the initial feelings, but the aching moments that linger in days that follow. One anxious morning can mean a week of unbalance and confusion. It throws off your whole routine, which you’ve worked so hard to create and settle into. My anxiety seems to know exactly when a bad week is coming, because it chooses to sneak up just before, in efforts to extend one difficult week into two.
I have my own coping mechanisms, most of which aid me in my attempt to recuperate. That being said, it would be much easier on this heavy heart if calling out sick with anxiety was reason enough to not have to get out of bed. When all you need is time to soothe yourself, laying in bed can sometimes go a long way. While staying busy is generally a way to ward off anxiety, when it has its first blow, it can truly be exhausting.
All anxiety is not the same, but no matter how it hits, give yourself time to get better. Your mental health is precious.