I’d say I overthink things. In fact, I definitely overthink things. I’m even overthinking this blog. But I reckon the best way of tackling anxiety is writing about it, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m pretty good at worrying about stuff. You would think that after handing in my master’s dissertation I wouldn’t have much to worry about, but I’d like to think I’m pretty talented at finding stuff to worry about. I think having a disability has meant I’m pretty used to solving problems, whether it’s having to ask a stranger if I could go through their garden after getting locked in a cricket ground, or persuading the University’s Estates and Buildings team that Oxford probably does have enough money for an automatic door so I can get into my PhD office.
Anxiety is a more difficult one. It’s not a problem that easily lends itself to being ‘solved’. One thing I’ve learnt is that my anxiety doesn’t attach itself to one particular thing like a lazy sloth. Instead, it enthusiastically grabs on to the first thing it can find like an unusually lively basset hound. It’s not always at the front of my mind but it’s usually there a bit like the nagging feeling that Aston Villa are somehow going to lose a game even when they’re 3-0 up with 5 minutes to go (obviously this is a hypothetical scenario, Villa would never actually score three goals in the same game). Even when things are going well, I still find something that could be better.
I’ve actually found it quite helpful to write down some of the positive things that have happened recently so I’ve got something to refer back to if I’m feeling a bit down. So in the spirit of positivity I’ll name a few of them here. I’ve settled in really well to a new place, met lots of lovely people, finished my dissertation in good time and I have funding to stay in Oxford for a PhD. I’ve even managed to watch more Aston Villa play semi-regularly (although some of you may well not feel that this is a positive development).
Another talent I have is over analysing. I blame all of the essays I’ve been writing this year. On reflection, I feel like a casual passing comment or a brief message probably doesn’t merit quite the same forensic attention as an essay about identity in South Tyrol. The problem is, what seems like a faintly ridiculous, trivial issue as I write this in the middle of the day can seem like a problem of life-changing importance at 3 o clock in the morning. I’ve only just realised that I’ve gone a good couple of paragraphs without attempting a tenuous simile involving one of my favourite animals, so to address this distressing oversight, I’ll finish on a couple more. In many ways, you could describe anxiety as a koala bear which clings resolutely to the eucalyptus tree of worry. It’s not very easy to let go. But essentially, anxiety’s a bit like the tapir in the room. It might be awkward if no-one mentions it and it’s unlikely to leave in a hurry, but talking about it makes life a whole lot easier.