In the worst times, anxiety is crippling. It will stop you dead in the street, squeeze your lungs and make it feel like you are literally dying.
Other times like today, it manifests in sweaty hands, a racing heart and my entire body shakes.
My concern is that I was responding as if someone was pointing a gun at me – when all that acutally happened was that someone wanted to offer me “constructive criticism”
I swear, my anxiety takes me from 0-60 in about a millisecond.
Calm down, JD. Calm down.
And yet that’s what sucks about anxiety because I can’t.
It’s physically impossible to just ‘calm down’ – I can’t control this anxiety. I can’t make my hands stop sweating or make myself stop shaking. The best I can do is ‘hold on’ (mentally) until it passes. If that takes 5 minutes, then that’s great…but when it takes hours…then it becomes a real problem.
And guess what? Today, it’s taking hours.
It was just a small thing that set me off. Just a bossy, pushy HR person who wanted to give me “constructive critiscism” (which I honestly think is just an excuse to be rude to someone) and I said “no thank you”.
Which for me, is a bloody big deal.
The convo went like this:
HR Girl: Janet, can I give you some constructive critiscism?
Me: No thank you.
HR Girl: *visibly surprised* What?
Me: *quietly panicking* Um…no thank you.
HR Girl: But I just –
Me: No, no. *a bit more firmly now* No thank you.
HR Girl: But you could benefit from –
Me: Nope. No thank you. Okay then. See you.
Please leave. Please leave. Please leave.
She paused, opened her mouth like she was going to try again, changed her mind and walked off.
Or flounced off. If that is even a word.
I should be celebrating this as a win.
I stopped a bossy-boots from potentially hurting me and I did it gently, without being confronting or rude and I won. I really won!
But instead, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I feel absolutely rubbish from the encounter.
The second HR girl…(let’s call her “Anna”) left, I started to shake.
My stomach was rolling and I felt as if I’d been kicked really hard in the ribs.
I was reeling from something that hadn’t even happened.
I’m blogging to you almost 5 hours later and I’m still upset from it.
What drives me mental is that there is nothing to be upset about it. Why am I shaking when nothing happened? Why do I feel like I’ve run from an attacker when all that happened was a brief conversation with someone I’ll probably not see again for a few weeks or months?
My mind has been racing these last few hours trying to fill in whatever gap that HR person left.
What was her constructive critiscism? What was she going to say?
When “Anna” asked me about providing some “constructive criticism, I think I died a thousand deaths. I was really scared, you guys. I was badly shaking and covered in sweat. I’m berating myself for not being as perfect and polished as Anna is and I don’t want to hear from her. I don’t think she’s going to say anything helpful – in fact, I strongly suspect it’s going to be the opposite and will actually really hurt me to hear.
She’s just a girl – probably younger than me – and probably wanting to help me grow and learn as a person.
But my entire body reacts as if in this very moment she’s coming at me with a samari sword, ready to kill me. My mouth goes dry, my heart is thumping madly against my rib cage and I can barely get the words out:
“No thank you“
After our brief, probably forgettable (to her, anyway) exchange – (thankfully) Anna leaves.
…And I have been shaking and frightened ever since.