As this most recent winter break started dying down my anxiety levels likewise crept up. I kept telling myself things like “it’s just one semester,” “you have a gameplan this year” and “you got this.” I thought it was working, but then I looked at all the things I was putting off. I hadn’t gotten any supplies for my classes and hadn’t even glanced at the book lists; I realized I was once again just tricking myself. I really was afraid of another semester starting, even if I didn’t want to believe it, and even if I believed it was a stupid fear. I was putting off everything that marked the unyielding progression of time, even doing my laundry.
This resulted in a ton of stress the week before school began. In my head, I couldn’t get started on the mountains of assignments I was sure I would have if I couldn’t even make it to my desk. At the time, it was covered in clean clothes that I couldn’t convince myself to put away. My laundry basket was overflowing with clothes as well and papers were strewn everywhere. I started having anxiety about the mess that my anxiety had created.
It has to be difficult, dating someone with anxiety. With my relationship, all of my fears reach my boyfriend eventually, either by my near-constant venting or in my avoidance techniques. Not taking care of my room or getting ready for school were ways that I dealt with the anxiety without naming it, and those aren’t the only ways I let it out. With him, I’ll start a fight just to see if he’ll really stay. Or, I’ll start a fight to deal with some fear that I can neither let go of nor confess. There’ll be times that I cancel plans because I feel he needs a break from my craziness: I’m afraid I’ll lose him if I don’t give him an extra day away from me. There are tons of problems that my anxiety causes that are unnecessary, and the sad part is I can usually recognize that as it’s happening. I can tell myself that this fear is ridiculous, that this reaction is inappropriate, but I can’t convince myself to stop.
We’ve been together for a few years now, so when he noticed how anxious I was getting before this semester, he tried to alleviate some of the stress. We worked as a team getting all the loads of laundry done, folding all the clothes and putting any stray papers away. We had fun throwing clothes at each other, and were able to relax for a little bit after we finished. He took me shopping later to find the perfect notebooks—a lengthy task for a writer like me—and when we got back to my house, I felt so much more in control of my life. The impact of a clean room was surprising to me: I’d never really put so much emphasis on it before. Somehow, it signified me getting my life together, and I couldn’t have done it with such a clear mind without him.
It’s hard having anxiety and having a boyfriend. I’m so lucky to have found a guy that’s this patient with me and all of my fears. He’s always there to tell me he loves me and remind me that he’s not going anywhere. He’ll give me a shoulder rub, watch some puppy videos or do some deep breathing with me to try and calm me down. While I work on my anxiety and all of the problems it causes, he’s right there beside me, reminding me that this is a journey and I’m loved just as I am.