The Sirens of Anxiety
[Guest Post by Abby Norman] – It feels like a siren, coming at you as you drive through your day.
Maybe you are headed to work like you always are, listening to your favorite radio program, maybe it is the weekend, you are headed nowhere in particular but hope to land some place special. Maybe you are driving around and around your block because the baby in the back seat refuses to sleep any other way.
It doesn’t really matter where you are driving, what you are doing.
You hear the siren somewhere in the distance–and you wonder if it is coming for you.
There are days when I am on my way to work, and the siren of anxiety can be heard in the distance.
It sounds like a faint police car wail that I am pretty sure I can ignore. Weee-oooo-no-good-you-are-fail-ing. On the good days it remains in the back of my head. A faint sound that can be drowned out by the daily activity that is my life.
Other days are not so good.
The anxiety siren comes closer.
Close enough that I have to look around and figure out which direction it comes from and whether or not I will have to pull over and breathe until it passes.
These days I have to talk myself down. The siren, no-good-fail-ing-you-can’t-do-this ring in my ears. The lights flash in my eyes and I blink back the tears as I catch my breath and remind myself the siren was not for me. It was just in passing. I can go about my day.
On those days, even though it has passed, I can hear the siren in the background, sometimes close, sometimes far.
In my thoughts I am haunted by the close encounter.
On the truly horrible days, the sirens of anxiety comes after me.
I hear it in the distance and recognize that today it is calling me by name Ab-by-Ab-by-bad-mom-can’t-teach-bad-wife-fail-ing.
I put the pedal to the metal, and just like in every bad cop drama you have ever seen I attempt to out run the sirens. I careen through my life, burning rubber and on two tires. I hide in the alley shaking and scared. I go as fast as my little car can carry me as I head straight down the highway the sirens getting ever closer.
The anxiety sirens have been chasing me for as long as I can remember.
Now, most days are good days, but I have had my share of bad. I have sat crying on my couch unable to go to work because all I could hear were those sirens. I have wasted far too much time and energy trying to outrun them, and I have come to the end of the road, where the only thing left to do was get out of the car and turn around.
I have, out of desperation faced the siren and the lights.
When I finally stop running and hiding, and speak what the sirens were saying out loud, I can hear the lies in their tone.
When I tell my husband and my sisters what I have been hearing, when I let a few co-workers I trust in on the screeching in my head, suddenly the sirens are silenced. They are silenced by the truth of people who know me, believe in me, see the truth of my life. They are drown out by the truth, because the sirens wail lies.
I know it is scary to face the sirens, but I also know that for me it was the only way to escape them.
Running and hiding never fully worked, they were always there, telling me I was not good enough for anything. Speaking them outloud, exposing the lies, getting out of the car and turning around to face them is what quieted the sirens for me.
Even on the good days, when the sirens are weak, they are there.
But if I confront them when they are small, I recognize the lies and replace them with truth, that is when the sirens stop chasing me all together.
Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She has two hilarious children and a husband that doubles as her copy editor and biggest fan. If two in diapers and a full time job teaching English at a local high school don’t keep her busy, you can find her blogging at accidentaldevotional.com.
[Photo: Maurice Koop, Creative Commons]