Yesterday afternoon, the internet went out in the office. This happens often and always returns quickly, so I waited.
After an hour or so, after I’d read the tabs I’d already opened, worked on something small that didn’t need the internet, and filed through my emails on my phone, I gave up — deciding to go home to use the hotspot on my nearly-dead phone.
On the outside, I went home, found my phone charger, set up my laptop, promptly found my hotspot also wasn’t connecting, and decided to take the rest of the afternoon off — having a long, luxurious shower; doing some cleaning and dishes; going for a sunset run by the beach; finishing my book; talking with a friend; and cooking stir-fried rainbow vegetables with noodles for dinner.
But that, of course, is just the outside. As I documented a few months ago in a post called Anxiety OJ, living with anxiety means that while my life may sometimes look serene from the outside, on the inside, I’m like a duck with legs churning underwater.
Frustrated that the internet wasn’t working. Worrying about the writing deadline I’d likely miss, but chastising myself for getting too stressed about it calm down ease off that won’t get the work done will it. Breathe. Sweat pricking in our muggy three-person room no one likes the air con under thirty omg why. Wanting to go home but feeling guilty and weird about leaving for comfort when my colleagues likely can’t so thirty minutes of doing nothing then abruptly shutting computer down this is enough. Controlled breathing on the long sticky walk home. Opening up the air-con at home, sitting cramped and tight on bed staring into laptop connected to iPhone no internet no internet. Heart beating faster breath short and tight when will you get this done why didn’t you do this earlier. Long, cold distracting shower, turning stress instead to the dimpling of my thighs and the wub of my belly so wobbly fat gross yuck no self-control shut UP towel dry smooth moisturiser breathe slower hot tears pricking new compassionate eyes. Breathe. Open book. The run is not for weight-loss, it’s a place to put the racing energy. Breathe. Hot and sticky and moisturiser film sliding from legs and tears all dry and cheery hellos that I really mean to strangers huffing in the sunset light behind me. Headphones we were dancing in the fire, fire fire. Bursting home feeling whole another shower and the energy to re-organise, channeling anxious energy folding shirts until a visitor comes home then chatting, following each other around the house, wanting quietly to be alone but simultaneously grateful for the distraction then it’s too late already for dinner will she want some too is this too many noodles should I make brown rice instead I should make brown rice then Felix comes home and they eat takeaway Bangladeshi and oof do I want that instead and then later lights off sharing small news I went for a run and why do you love me small and quiet and wanting to write my book blurb and being scared I won’t do it well and it doesn’t matter anyway but it all matters, so much, all the time, to me. Everything.
In that older post I wrote about how my thoughts are always turned up to 10, and how it’d serve me well to let them drift past without getting bogged in. Now, I’m adding to that the reminder that progress is not linear; it will be harder and easier and endless.
A quick edit! I started this post a few days ago so my references to ‘yesterday’ are false. The internet came back, I got the work done, the noodles were delicious and I wrote on my Instagram about the book like I always do, and it was all fine. Of course it was. Of COURSE. It’s fine far more often than my anxiety lets me believe.