Soul Food

Your Anxiety Is Showing—Better Tuck That Back In


“Your anxiety is showing—better tuck that back in,” whispered the little voice inside my head. “After all, you don’t want anyone to know about the sadness you sometimes feel without cause, or the depression you must fight away.”

Anxiety has a way of sneaking into your day, into your thoughts and into your routine. You never know when it is going to rear its ugly head until it does. For me, it was on day four of our multi-family vacation when something within me shifted. It was almost as if I could literally feel the chemicals within my body change. I know it sounds crazy, but I bet someone who is reading this can understand and relate. It all started with how many pizzas to order that night and what toppings would go on each one. Seems like a simple task, right? But in the midst of the decision-making process, and suddenly feeling overwhelmed, something within me radically shifted. Instantly, I didn’t feel like myself. All I wanted to do was forget about the pizza and crawl into the unfamiliar sheets as I hid myself underneath the bed covers, which is what I did.

And under the covers is where I stayed even throughout the next day while everyone played in the pool and built sandcastles on the beach. I wanted to join them; but again, something within me had shifted. The “me” I knew was gone and this other person who felt depressed had emerged. I knew what it looked like from the outside, which was pouting. I could hear my daddy’s voice inside my head tell me to “tuck that lip back in” just as he did when I was a child and pouting. But this wasn’t pouting even though it looked as if it was to the outside observer. Instead, it was anxiety. And it could be seen by me, the inside observer. I tried to hide it. I tried to tuck it back in. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, anxiety can’t be tucked back in. Sometimes it shows with a sudden onset of irritability. People assume you are having an “attitude or being moody,” but it’s actually you feeling anxious and having a panic attack. And it’s also needing to isolate yourself; and be alone. Not tucking away your anxiety, but rather tucking away yourself in order to process.

Maybe you have been there–at that place when you become overwhelmed and pushed over the edge by even the littlest of things. Because it’s not just deciding on the pizza toppings or if you should get the 12 or 14 inches, but everything else that is overwhelming you, coming to the surface and crashing together. I want you to know that I see you. I am you. And you don’t have to try to tuck your anxiety back in. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to hide under the covers and stay there for hours. It’s okay to cancel plans and curl up in a ball on the floor. And it’s okay to isolate yourself for a short amount of time as you work through your feelings and process your thoughts. It’s not pouting. It’s coping. But, when you are done, do the work to pull yourself back together and get back up. Because friend, you don’t belong down there.

I didn’t belong down there. After spending a day of vacation alone and tucked away, I pulled back the covers, washed my face, put on a pretty dress, and together with my family went out for that same pizza which caused me so much anxiety the night before. We ordered with ease one thick and one thin. One supreme and one pepperoni. Both 12 inches. It felt good to be out; but in order for me to have reached that place, I had to first tuck myself, and not my anxiety, back in.

If you are someone who feels as though your whole world is falling apart and it’s difficult to see yourself not be yourself, go tuck yourself in. And know that eventually your spark will return and you will shine like you did once more.

“It’s okay to cry when there is too much on your mind–the clouds rain too when things get heavy.” ~Amina Mehmood

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7 thoughts on “Your Anxiety Is Showing—Better Tuck That Back In”

  1. The same thing happened to me the other night! My husband’s friend from high school was here in the US visiting (he lives out of country) and he and another friend planned to come for dinner; plus their wives and local friend’s 2 kids. Then another friend and his wife and kid came, and another friend, and another. Most of them speak Spanish, and they did so frequently. Everyone also talked really loud. I put the baby to bed, and the one spouse left to put their toddler to bed, and I hoped it would quiet down after that. Nope. If anything, they got louder. (Thankfully the baby didn’t wake up!) After a few hours of everyone being here, I started to shut down. I felt completely overwhelmed and I started to shut down. I ended up going into the other room with the 3 kids, seeing what they were up to, cleaning up toys, anything but hang out in the kitchen with the 8 loud adults. Nobody tried to lure me back in, and I was so grateful for that!! I told hubby afterwards that it had just gotten to be too much for me. He didn’t really understand (he never really gets it), but at least he wasn’t annoyed by it.

    1. “shut down” is a great way to describe what happened with me! It’s as if it all became too much and i needed to “shut down” and “reboot”. Praying for you, sugars! Thank you for sharing your story and allowing me the opportunity to also say “me too” and not feel so alone. xo

      1. It’s funny, because when I’m in the moment I don’t realize that’s what’s happening. I just sort of subconsciously remove myself from the situation, and when I look back at it a little later I realize that I was just so overwhelmed. Hindsight, I guess!

  2. Smart lady here. You can just be going through your day and then “wham” ! It is like a snowball , growing in size and picking up speed where just before you thought you were okay. Then you torment yourself with second guessing and indecision, sure that whatever you decide is going to be wrong! But it doesn’t end there, some how you feel that EVERY BAD THING THAT HAPPENS TO SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS ALL YOUR FAULT! Oh the guilt! If you had done something different the entire trajectory of the lives of your loved ones would be sunshine and roses instead of troubles and tears. The weight is unbearable as you carry it on your shoulders every minute of every day and your shoulders start to give way under the weight and pressures of things that realistically you can’t change! You are so tired… so alone and so tired.

  3. I relate to this post so much. No one really understands, or at least I don’t think anyone does. No one I personally know and see every day. It’s hard. It’s hard to try to fake being okay when you are the farthest from okay. It’s hard to explain to anyone that hasn’t experienced it. It’s just hard and although I hate you have it and have to deal with it (especially on vacation), it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

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