To continue the ongoing guest blog spots on The Bipolar Writer blog for mental health awareness month, today I am featuring a guest post from Alys. You can find her blog @ https://alysjournals.com/
When Anxiety Fears Relaxation: Productivity Anxiety
I’ve been battling with anxious thoughts for as long as I’ve had a sense of self; being acutely aware of the social world and my place in it has resulted in a lot of excruciating moments, both in public spaces and private spaces. Over on my blog I talk a lot about social anxiety. But that’s not the only kind of anxiety I experience. I, like a lot of people struggling to create a life in fast-paced modern society, have moments of overwhelming fear and irrational thought in relation to being productive.
Days off can be filled with vague panic, reaching to attach itself onto anything and everything I try to set my mind to: if it’s not writing an essay for university or cleaning the kitchen, somehow it’s not worthy of my time. Anxiety fights to tell me that the things I enjoy – writing, reading, relaxing in the park – are time-wasting tasks. I know that’s not true, but it’s a constant battle that I often lose.
To try and represent how the anxieties I feel manifest themselves, I have a series on my blog called ‘Conversations With Anxiety’, which are posts set out as a dialogue between myself and anxiety. Today I have written one about productivity anxiety, in the hope that others feel less alone with their own irrational thoughts.
Me: Finally, a day off to relax!
Anxiety: Are you sure?
Anxiety: I don’t think we should be relaxing right now.
Me: Why not?
Anxiety: There’s so much to do, there’s so so much I don’t even know where to begin–
Me: Then don’t!
Me: It’s our day off – we sent in a big assignment for university two days ago and worked over twelve hours yesterday.
Me: So it’s honestly okay to chill right now.
Anxiety: I think we’ll get behind if we do that, I can’t let you make this decision for us. It’s making me–
Me: Can you please stop shaking our leg? And get behind on what?!
Anxiety: Life! No one else is on pause!
Me: People have days off, most of them call it ‘the weekend’…
Anxiety: That’s just a disguise for everyone to secretly be getting ahead whilst we’re left behind.
Me: I doubt Netflix would be making such a profit if that was the case.
Anxiety: Maybe it’s all a hoax!
Me: Huh? Are you a superstitious conspiracy theorist now or something?
Anxiety: No! I’m just seeing through the smoke and mirrors.
Me: I think you’re searching for truth where there is none. Whatever. Can you please just stop sweating so much? We put this t-shirt on fresh an hour ago.
Anxiety: I just can’t stop thinking about things we could – no should – be doing.
Me: Look. I want to relax. We’re going to pick up this book and you’re going to be quiet for an hour. Can you do that?
Anxiety: Okaaaaay. If I have to. I’ll try.
Me: Yes! Thank you!
Anxiety: …but only if we can do something productive after.
Me: Ughhh. Fine. Deal.
Anxiety: Wow look at you, able to compromise. Impressive. Or weak. Depends who you ask I guess.
Me: …can you just shut up now so I can read? And slow down the breathing a little? It’s kinda distracting.
Anxiety: Woah, okay bossy boots. I’ll just go away if no one likes me, is that it? Is that–
Anxiety: Is it time yet? Is it time? I feel like it’s been a long time. Come on, can we–
Me: It’s been TWO MINUTES.
Anxiety: Two minutes TOO LONG.
Me: And you’re calling me weak for compromising? You can’t even stick to the compromise! All I want to do is peacefully read for an hour and now I’m getting up and doing ‘more productive’ things instead. Because you can’t even sit still and be quiet!
Anxiety: No, I’m calling you weak because you’re letting me win.
The rest of the series: https://alysjournals.com/category/conversations-with-anxiety/