Or nervousness as I called it back then. It was a few years ago, before I knew what anxiety was and way before I’d understood what Autism was, never mind PDA.
I was in college doing a university course, running a house by myself and being a single mum to an energetic young boy. Needless to say I was stressed.
Everyday was a constant barrage of demands.
I had to wake early (something I’ve never really managed successfully), quickly get myself and my son ready for the day, take him to nursery then myself to college (all in a 2 hour journey), sit through a long and boring day, pick son up and head home, make dinner, entertain son, put son to bed, juggle housework/college work/me time, then head to bed myself for some much needed sleep ready for another busy day.
As well as these stresses I had a wide range of other stresses including social struggles, problem parents, fatigue, little money coming in, headaches, trouble understanding what was required of me for some coursework, etc. I was anxious about everything from keeping the house clean and tidy, doing the best for my son and managing his needs, paying bills and shopping to keeping friends, getting coursework finished on time, finding time to relax.
One day, just like many of the others, I was stuck on the bus struggling to manage my anxiety (or worries as I thought of it back then) about the bus being late. It was a regular occurrence as the time I was on the bus for college was the same time everyone went to school/work/college and so the roads were packed with vehicles. As the minutes stretched by and the bus crawled onwards stuck in what seemed like a never ending traffic jam, I could feel my skin begin to itch. My blood raced through my veins and my heart beat quickened. My breathing became unsteady and my hands were sweating. I felt the need to shout/swear/lash out but I kept myself rooted, refusing to move. All I could do was chant inside my head a chant which had become all too familiar to me in this exact same situation many, many times before; ‘come on, come on, get moving. I don’t want to be late. Get moving. Why won’t you move. For f*cks sake just get out of the way’.
On this particular day I had an epiphany. I’d been in this same situation before, had the same reactions, said the same words, worried the same worries, and yet it hadn’t changed the results one bit. The bus hadn’t moved any faster because I had willed it to. The traffic hadn’t thinned out any quicker. I hadn’t gotten to college when I wanted to but when the situation had permitted me to. In the end, I realised, it didn’t matter what I did at that moment in time, nothing would change.
I figured, if it didn’t matter what I did, then it was a bit of a waste of time getting so worked up about it. When the bus was running on time or (heaven forbid) early, I would daydream or think nice thoughts or listen to my music or read, anything fun. So why was I wasting this small bit of free time worrying? It seemed rather pointless.
From that moment on I vowed not to let things I couldn’t affect, get to me. I cant change some things and it’s a waste of energy to worry about them. Everyday I try not to worry about things unless I really need to. Of course this isn’t easy. I still worry sometimes when the situation doesn’t call for it. There are some things which I worry over which other people would tell me aren’t worth worrying over. Likewise I don’t worry about some things which would really bother others. I have a ‘I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it’ mentality and it works for me. I wasn’t able to fully stop worrying that day, it took me a long time to relax. I did manage to get to college on time so my worries then we’re unfounded. I still worry over being late, I still rarely show it. Most people think I’m rather nonchalant about that type of thing but inside…I’m really not. But thanks to that day on the bus I learnt an important lesson. Not to worry about little everything. Now I only worry about most little things. Trust me, for me that’s a vast improvement.