Today I was working on some of the final puzzles in Jonathan Blow's newest game, The Witness. They're real brain burners, and they take a lot of concentration to solve. I shut the game off for lunch, and decided I would listen to a podcast while we ate. So Robb started heating up leftovers from last night.
My brain was sort of occupied with this puzzle on which I'd quit. I was getting text messages from two separate people on two separate apps. I was trying to answer questions from both of them. The podcast was starting. And Robb asked me how many fish tacos I wanted.
And my brain just...exploded. All of a sudden I wanted to throw pretty much everything across the room. I told Robb to hold on a second, slammed down my mobile speaker, paused my podcast, and silenced my phone. Then I stood looking at him while he stared at me like a crazy person.
"Two. I'll have two."
I worked to calm the surge of anger and frustration that swelled inside me from nowhere. Anxiety will do that.
If it's too loud at work, I start to get mad for no reason. If it's been too long since I've had some quiet, I start to ball up and push people away. I'll get my recharge one way or another. Too many expectations have me shutting down. Too much stimulation has me inexplicably angry. And I used to wonder what was wrong with me. I thought I was just mean or lazy or something.
But I found out it's anxiety. These are all common responses to anxiety. And now I'm learning to see the triggers and not get myself into those situations as often. It's a helpful thing to know what to call something, even if you're not sure what to do about it just yet.
Clearly I have some work to do. Clearly I still let it get the best of me occasionally. But with some mindfulness, things are looking better already.