I’m not always exhausted, but I have the perception that I am. Anxiety manifests in ways that are both physically and mentally draining. My tense jaw and tight shoulders ache. My mind is thin and worn.

I fidget in inconspicuous and destructive ways. I can’t let myself be. My heart beats in weak, hurried pulses. I can’t release any of this tension. I need to worry. I need to press every bruise in my brain. I need to confirm every one of my suspicions, which are all true. I need to teach myself terrible things.

I sit myself down and rationalise it all out. I repeat trite phrases of positivity and optimism. I call out reasonable things to myself from a safe vantage point. I listen and nod, but nothing sinks in.

Sometimes there’s a light – it’s me, and I’m kind and loving and sweet. I hold out my hand and invite my own gnarled, cowed self forward and out.

Wouldn’t you like to forget all this
Wouldn’t you like to unburden yourself
There’s another way. You can just be.

But how can I? My earnest core is a treasured possession. I can’t expose it. I can’t leave it to the elements, to be made raw and bloody. What I inflict on myself is mine: I create it, I control it. What others do is clumsy and blind and all the more painful for it.




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