My anxiety is pretty bad today. I’ve had a lot going on – my grandmother is in the hospital and I haven’t received my first paycheck yet and the frustrations of changing my name in all its various entities is a pain in the ass and wanting to be more social but being terrified of actually following through with it, etc. – but everything just kind of hit me. Now, I’ve been extremely stressed over the past week, but I haven’t come as close to having a panic attack as I have the past few hours. And it all started because of “head drama.”

The concept of head drama is pretty straight forward: you have this scenario in your head that, in most cases, just has you worry about the worst case scenario, but it’s based on the most minuscule data. For example, your friend doesn’t text you back, so you imagine that they hate you and come up with this verbose, vitriolic screed or a desperate plea or whatever until you’re more worked up about the possible reality of ending a relationship than you are about the factual situation itself.

I can’t say that I’m in possession of any more empathy than the next person, but I do tend to have very strong reactions to the moods of others around me. Although I’ve been taken advantage of by others in the past, it’s one of the main ways the ex-husband managed to manipulate me throughout our marriage, so naturally, I developed a habit of creating contingency plans for dealing with his volatile emotional swings. I’d pick up on one tiny action; it could have been the way he sighed or a minor change in the timbre of his voice or even the slight twitch of a finger, and Panic Mode would activate. I’d come up with as many possible reasons for his demeanor and then plan my responses to them, hopefully to steer his anger or criticism away from me. It was, as you can imagine, exhausting.

And even three years after leaving him, that habit has followed me. The stress I’ve dealt with the last week or so has me right back in that modality of survival, and nearly everything has me on edge. I’ve created so much head drama for myself that I’m not even sure what I’ve made up, but I’m sitting here with a big ball of anxiety in my entire torso, about ready to vomit. There’s a certain relief that comes from knowing where it’s coming from, but that doesn’t really change how frustrated and scared I am. Even my cats are keeping their distance tonight, with Ramses curled up in a ball on the floor and Mushroom on the very edge of the bed near my feet.

I know I need to get back into therapy, but that’s something that is going to have to wait until I can get my insurance through work. So for now, I’m going to go do some yoga and deep breathing exercises, I think. That is, if I can convince myself to get up and out of this bed.

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