I used to love rollercoasters. Somebody said “Have you been on one before?” and I hadn’t. I tried it. Oh jeez, what a hideous thrill! I couldn’t decide if the false teeth I could see in the void beneath the car were genuine or props. But I didn’t care, I was up for all the wildness.
Fast forward a while and I became horrified. That last time when I’d felt sick and truly uncomfortable, I wondered why I had loved them and why it had it changed. It doesn’t matter, there is no need for me to ever be on one again. I know I won’t, and I’ll be more than happy to be Chief Coat Holder and photographer should the occasion arise.
Anxiety is now the rollercoaster. Not just for me. For so many of us. It hits any time of the day or night. It walks beside us until we run, then it runs a hundredth of a second faster so we can never quite put it out of eye line. Twice recently I had to drive on roads that make me wish to turn myself inside out - I fretted with a racing heart for at least an entire day in advance. I haven’t worked out why, I know I’m a calm and steady driver. But the speed of others, and having to make quick choices at huge roundabouts, turn me into jelly.
I read a line about anxiety. It was along the lines of becoming comfortable with not knowing. That helped. As I careered along to the biggest roundabout on the motorway, I reminded myself that if I ended up in the wrong lane then I was just going to where that lane took me. Suddenly my shoulders came down a little. I hadn’t stopped being anxious, but I had chosen to be comfortable with not knowing.
I did take the wrong lane. And yet I’m still here to write today. Now just to make that lesson stick.