Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Anxiety and the radio

By Emma on April 17, 2013

In just under two hours I’ll be on Ujima radio in Bristol. You can listen along at the top of the page here: http://www.ujimaradio.com/ from 12 – 12:30 and then I think I’m on again at 13:15 for quarter of an hour.

I’m getting incredibly anxious. Will I be able to park in the scary multi-storey? Will I find the radio station? Will I be able to say anything other than “Err… ummm…” or even speak at all? Will I have a sudden need to vomit just as the slot starts? Will I blank? Will I-

You get the idea.

This, my lovelies, is the nature of anxiety as a disorder. It is not rational. It is all consuming. It does not care that I’ve been to conventions and sat on panels and been absolutely fine. It rejects the evidence that I will probably be okay – even a previous appearance on radio is disregarded.

Anxiety is not logical. It can always find a reason to keep me scared. That’s its job, after all. Right now, it’s trying to freak me out to the point that I am actually incapable of leaving the house. It wants that, because if I stay at home, I will be safe. All of the possible things that could go wrong at the radio station will be rendered impossible.

I made a decision, some time ago now, that I wanted to be a successful author more than anything else in my professional life. That meant I had to consciously decide that no matter how bloody terrified I get, I have to push through.

I was chatting to a lovely chap called Marcus at Eastercon about this. He couldn’t understand why I could get so freaked out before any kind of panel / appearance and then seem to be fine.

There’s a couple of reasons. 1) the anticipation is a zillion times worse than when the trigger actually starts. The only exception to this I’ve found so far is Ready, Steady, Flash. 2) I seem fine, but underneath I am still terrified. I just don’t show it when I’m “on”. Or at least, I try not to. If people look closely they see how much I’m shaking. When friends hug me afterwards they often comment on how violently I’m shaking afterwards too!

But there’s another thing too: my anxiety is not me. As time goes on, I’m realising more and more that it’s just this horrible thing that swamps me, but it’s not the bits of me that gets excited and waves hands around when trying to explain what’s so cool about GMing, it’s not the bit of me that writes books and stories, it’s not the bit of me that likes to make people laugh and it’s not the bit of me that just wants to meet and get to know other lovely geeky people who love the same stuff as me.

And because of that, I’m trying damn hard not to let the anxiety get in the way. But that means that I will shake, I will squeak for help, I will have to stand by myself in a corner sometimes, freaking the fuck out, and I’m sorry if that’s annoying. It’s because it’s hard.

Really, really hard.

But it’s not impossible.

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{ 4 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Jo Hall says:

    *Many hugs*

    Radio is not too bad because you’ll be chatting in a room with Cheryl and Roz, there won’t be hundreds of people LOOKING at you. You’ll be great. And yes, you are not your anxiety, your anxiety is just a horrible thing that lives in your head that needs bashing, whack-a-mole style, every time it pops up. It’s not YOU.
    Jo Hall recently posted..Reacting to Reviews

  2. Leah says:

    First of all, thank you so much for stopping by my blog. Writing about anxiety is such a brave thing but also such a good idea. I’ve attempted diaries but they never last! Haha.

    One thing I love about this post is that you state that your anxiety isn’t you. That’s exactly right. Although sometimes it is so consuming it doesn’t make you who you are. People always say ‘Oh well you look fine!’. They don’t realise that the last thing you want is to draw attention to it (although it feels like there’s a big sign about your head screaming PANIC ATTACK GOING ON HERE).

    Thanks for pointing me here :) . Such a good post and keep powering through, it feels great afterwards, a real feeling of accomplishment.

    • Emma says:

      :) I think people not understanding what it’s like is a major part of why it’s so hard. That’s another reason why I write about it, in the hope it helps demystify it in some small way for people who’ve never experienced it.

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