A thought like a scab that you can’t help blindly running your fingers over. After the initial few days of constantly picking, picking, picking it remains as a stray thread that you return to time and again. No matter how long or well you distract yourself, your fingers return to the irregularity. You replay situations in your head; I could haves and I should haves bullying each other for space. An infinity of hoping for a different situation, hoping for subtle changes that would make it all ok.
‘Ok’ in itself is a betrayal, nothing is life threatening, nothing that you can’t survive. And yet you can’t let it go. And your heart races, you lose sleep. And you are on the brink of tears if the person taking your coffee order doesn’t hear you right the first time. And, and, and.
Is it rational? It feels rational. Anxiety driven thoughts tracing the same paths hoping for a breakthrough. It feels like a breakthrough sometimes, at the start things that are good and helpful to think about, train cars pulling one another along and forging new paths. One thought racing after another, each with the potential for calm or panic. Instead they are just forging a path for sleepless nights. For waking up at 3am and jumping straight into the heart racing excitement that you managed to dispel hours earlier. It is impossible to tell the difference between rational and irrational when it is all inside your head.
Outward expression helps; though I have never been able to understand why. Why tears flowing in front of friends in cafes, bars and train stations can help slow the thoughts; help make them tangible enough to flow through the fingers instead of grasping at nothing. Maybe it is the validation, you friends telling you that the feelings are ok. Or maybe is it people you love and trust telling you it will be ok, and you finally listen to the voice of reason.
Knowing that this thought is not the ‘worst thing ever’ makes it all worse which is nice. Checking your privilege, feeling guilty for this brain storm when others have it so much worse adds guilt to the anxiety. All pain is relevant, all feeling is relevant. Extent is just about context.
It’s a vicious cycle, anxiety making you chase your thoughts deep into the night. The loss of sleep making you less rational by fractions, sharper with people you meet, more likely to fuck up and add another crack in your positivity. Tired you reach for coffee after coffee, but the caffeine will betray you. Making your heart race, quicker for harsh words to fall from your mouth and making it even more impossible to sleep.
That scab, so insignificant. So easy for some to ignore and forget, but for others it is a seductive ‘wrongness’ to obsess over and come back to time and time again. The obsession will end at some point, everything will become manageable. You will wonder why you got so worked up, losing sleep and rationality. Friends help. Family helps. Speaking your worst fear helps. Learning to let go although seemingly impossible is the biggest help of all.
And if all that fails just write a blog post at 3am and get it all out.