A few nights ago I was curled up with a copy of Kerri Sackville’s new book The Little Book of Anxiety as my kitten, Lola, started biting the corner of the pages. I tweeted this and wondered should I be worried? That’s when I realised that I, too, live with my own little anxieties about stuff that perhaps normal people wouldn’t worry about.
I live in my head a lot. I talk to myself (sometimes out loud) and weigh up situations that most of us wouldn’t bother even thinking about. My friends call this place Roseland. I sure have racked up a few thousand frequent flyer points to this unknown land. It’s usually when people are talking to me and they get to the crux of their story and somehow, magically, I just tune out. I don’t mean to be rude, it just happens! And then when the conversation it brought up a week later I say, “I don’t remember you telling me this” and they roll their eyes. Whoops.
Focusing on one thing is a challenge for me. I’m always busy thinking about the next thing I need to do or what time I need to leave the house to make it somewhere on time. I procrastinate badly. Just to write this post I had to clean my bedroom, put on a load of washing, wash the dishes, vacuum, have lunch, book my manicure appointment…
I get anxious and feel just as lonely as the next person. While my anxieties don’t control my life like some more serious cases, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel them. I used to be very anxious about driving. I hated the idea of getting behind the wheel and taking control of a huge piece of machinery that could in fact kill me. Ridiculous? Maybe. I never feel this way on a plane or when someone else is driving.
Nearly a month ago I got my first car. I’d love to tell you that the phobia has gone (well it has to an extent) but I still get a little shaky and my palms sweat. I used to have a recurring dream about being in the back seat of the car and I couldn’t reach the brakes. Or I’d go to hit the brakes and they’d just disappear. I try not to fantasise about this while I’m actually on the road as I’d possibly go mad.
I had a bit of an episode a few weeks ago as I was driving to a new area. I wasn’t familiar and I was completely out of my comfort zone. The sun went down and suddenly everything was dark. Did I mention my eyesight is shit? It was still peak hour as I was trying to navigate the streets around the Upper North Shore of Sydney with pedestrians running madly across the main roads. I was petrified at the time. I can laugh now but the fear is very real. I hate being out of control. I hate the feeling of being lost. I hate being late. As I sat in my navy blue Astra I felt all these feelings come bubbling to the surface.
So I did whatever any normal 26yo girl would do.
I cried like a little girl. More like wailed actually. I’d been driving for nearly 2 hours and I just couldn’t find where I was supposed to be going. As my navman repeated at me “make a u-turn when possible” I threw the useless thing in the backseat and rested my head on the steering wheel. I forgot that my window was down and wondered why everyone coming out of the station was looking at me.
‘Did her boyfriend break up with her? Did she lose her job?’ they wondered. No. I just have a shocking sense of direction.
After having my little moment I decided I wasn’t going to admit defeat. I would find my way there whether it killed me. And I thought chances are I’d cry again trying to get home as it was further away than my destination. So I put the car into drive and took off using my iPhone GPS as my navigator (much easier) and I found myself in familiar surroundings within a few short minutes.
When I finally got to dinner with my family I told them I’d cried. It made me feel better and I had a good laugh about it. At that moment, Dad leaned over and said he’d been crying for an hour down in his car feeling redundant that his newly-driving daughter didn’t need him anymore. When I was late, he assumed the worst. That I’d died. I’d died in my first car and he’d never see me again. Perhaps this is where my anxiety comes from?
I questioned him why he didn’t call my mobile. He said he was too sad and was playing sad songs over and over again in his car grieving for his only daughter. Right.
I have driven this route since my very public breakdown in the small streets of Wollstonecraft. I now know it like the back of my hand.
If they move, I’m screwed.
What do you feel anxious about? Do you feel you have some control over it or does it weigh you down?
Rose Russo has written 56 posts.
Rose is a freelance writer, blogger and self confessed chocoholic who could quite easily live on a diet of turkish delight and English breakfast tea. She loves the fast paced nature of online media but sometimes feels like she’s the only member of Gen Y who still gets excited to pick up the newspaper on weekend mornings. If anyone has a Sportsgirl addiction cure please let her know [I may be on a first-name basis at my local store] She also writes a weekly column focusing on relationships, friendship and life stuff on her blog at The Budding Rose
Follow on twitter: @thebuddingrose