Trying to explain my chronic anxiety to others, even my doctors, always raises my level of anxiety. I get frustrated trying to describe why one day a minor problem might be rage inducing, while on another day it might barely register as a problem. I can’t articulate how my list of things to-do on paper is ceaselessly running through my mind as “must-do now” list, which I constantly reprioritize. If I have conversations about it, I leave them ruminating about something I said, the way I said it, or what else I should have said.
When my anxiety level is very high, I do have a physical sensation of a hand on my back between my shoulder blades nudging me forward, like it’s saying “go, go, go” only I have no clue where I’m supposed to go or what I’m supposed to do. I’ve never able to accurately described the baseline level I live with however, until a revelation a few years ago during the holiday season while listening to the 24/7 Christmas music radio station.
I love the holiday season and the music. One of my favorites is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24), the instrumental mash-up of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Carol of the Bells. You can listen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHioIlbnS_A
The intense rolling beat, the triumphant vibe, and the familiarity of the melody have put this song into heavy rotation on my personal device playlists for years. Then one day as I was listening felt more connected to it somehow, like my mind inside my head was bobbing along. The underlying beat and the repetitive short bursts of tunes felt more driving than rolling, much like the hand I feel pushing my back. The back and forth between the instruments felt chaotic and overwhelming. Even in the quieter parts of the song there’s an ominous anticipation of the crash of the drum and the intensity ramping back up. At the end, you feel a little drained. This is what it’s like in my mind.
My brain is constant motion and my thoughts are repetitive and invasive, constantly telling me to do more. The varying intensity of my anxiety always affects my mood and sometimes my ability to function. When my levels are low, the anxiety feels like background music – but it’s still there and I remain ever vigilant waiting for the next thing to trigger me. The busyness of just thinking can sap all my energy.
Now when I hear the song I find it amusing to have this thing has always given me joy be useful in describing my distress and am comforted that for all 3:25 of the song I feel understood. Where words fail, music speaks my mind.