Anna Spargo-Ryan

Hey life you’re all dark at the edges, stop it

I’m currently lurking in the dark corners of anxiety.

Yes it is fun and you can join me, thank you for asking.

It’s a fairly bad … episode? Is that what they call it? Turn? Is it a ‘turn’ if you don’t leave your house for three days, even to go to the letterbox? I don’t know.

Anxiety sneaks up on me. It’s a slow burn, sometimes over many months, and it usually culminates in one specific attempted expedition to the supermarket, when I freeze at my front door and end up in an hysterical ball on the floor.

Gaz is very nice about it. He pulls the car over and goes shhhhhh and strokes my hair.

Anxiety can be very self-centric. You don’t understand. You don’t have anxiety. You are lucky. My children, my boyfriend, my parents, my sister, my friends, they are all lucky because they don’t have anxiety. I would help support a million friends with anxiety if it meant I didn’t have to have it myself. They are so. lucky.

But of course, they are not.

Now that my kids are older, they are beginning to realise that the way I approach life isn’t the same as the way the other mothers do it. They want to go to Tasmania. I would love to go to Tasmania with them. We would go to the markets and drink the apple juice and play in the snow and eat the lobsters. But I am afraid. More than usual. And they keep asking, and I keep saying, “Of course, one day!” so that I don’t have to panic about it, but that’s not good enough for them anymore. “When?” they say. “When are we going? Can we go next week?” “No, not next week. But one day.”


People begin to anticipate the anxiety pike. “Sorry, I just don’t think I can go.” “I knew you wouldn’t. I never actually bought the tickets. It was fun to pretend though, right?”

Because when you have anxiety, it’s fun to pretend to be a person.

“You went to the city on your own! I’m so proud of you.”

Because when you have anxiety, some days you are an infant.

“I understand if you don’t want to go.”

Because when you have anxiety, sometimes people enable your excuses.

“Look at all you’ve achieved, despite everything!”

Because when you have anxiety, you have to work hard and not panic, which is like two lots of work.

“Don’t worry, no one can tell.”

Because your anxiety should be a secret. Try to hide it. Be a normal person.

There’s nothing to be afraid of.


I’m Anna, a digital strategist and writer who likes to drink 'Ice Tea' but doesn't understand why it's not called 'Iced Tea'. By night and occasionally morning, I eat things, write things, berate my children, walk my dogs and hug my chocolate.


  • January 22, 2013 3:06 pm

    Painful reading. Creeps up on me when things are going well, as if to remind me not to get too ahead of myself xx hugs to you xx

  • pd

    January 22, 2013 3:09 pm

    I never used to suffer with anxiety while I was a dole-bludger. Then I worked at one call-center too many, had a panic attack right after a call and walked out during my next shift never to go back again.
    I started getting my life together, actually getting achievements completed, finishing diplomas, enrolling in Uni, writing books… and then anxiety hit again. If I know I have to do something early the next morning I have a mounting panic that keeps me awake typically until 2 hours before I’m due to do that “thing”, if I sleep at all. Meds help, sometimes.. .but they also can make me so dozy I don’t pay attention completely while driving which has led to some dangerous situations.

    the point of all of this is to say that in my own small way I understand. I’m going to be persuing meditation and therapy to see if I can change this at all. In the back of my head is a little voice saying I could change it by killing off all my little project, Uni, writing, accomplishments… but then what do I really have to live for?

  • January 22, 2013 4:49 pm

    Anxiety is a right focker.

    The end :(

  • January 22, 2013 6:33 pm

    Follow your line Anna, do what feels right and everyone else will drop into line behind you. Because they want to. Big hug x

  • January 23, 2013 12:49 pm

    Anna, living with anxiety is not living like everyone else. We have our own way of coping. The thing is, we have anxiety. Just like people have diabetes or kidney disease – we have anxiety. We manage it with drugs, therapy and quirky rituals that enable us to kind of function normally. Don’t hide it. You are not alone. There’s heaps of us out there. Heaps of us. Not sure if you have listened to my Richard Fidler interview on anxiety? If you are interested just google richard fidler + annie reuss I got a lot of feedback from people saying it helped them. xxxx

  • January 23, 2013 12:52 pm

    Can relate to every single word. An infant, yes, that’s what it makes you feel like. But you’re not. Being ‘not normal’ is the thing I think about nearly every day. You’ve expressed your not normal so eloquently and this has made me feel not normal with you. (Am I making sense yet?). Love. xxx

  • January 23, 2013 1:00 pm

    I hear you and I have so many days like this. I catastrophise so readily it’s terrifying, at defcon 4 in approximately 9 seconds. Right now I am worried about going out to drinks with friends on Saturday night because I am not sure how I will get home. Gawd. Thanks for writing this (segoviaSuz on twitter)

  • January 23, 2013 1:14 pm

    Hi Anna – I can completely relate. Anxiety has only become a part of my life to the point where it affects it significantly since last year. I am very anxious right now. It’s hard to understand it. All I know is I hate it. I’m not sure whether to blame it on my age (48) or if it just me. Oh to be one of those cool chilled out people. I try and pretend HA (not very well). If only others could see the inner tumoil. Hugs xo

  • January 23, 2013 1:27 pm

    Right there with you Anna. I’ve had anxiety and hypervigilance issues for so long that it’s my normal. It sucks. It really does. I pike out of things too – it’s the worst thing knowing that people don’t expect you turn up, despite you really wanting to. Baby steps I guess.

    Anyway, I’m there with you.

  • Pam Figleaf

    January 23, 2013 1:27 pm

    I went to Tasmania. Not one damn lobster. Apparently you need to order them a couple of days ahead of time because they all get sent here. Stupid Tasmania.

  • January 23, 2013 2:39 pm


  • January 23, 2013 2:47 pm

    Owning it and being attuned to it is huge.
    Whether you employ drugs, meditation, time alone – whatever; it’s with you and I guess, it’s part of you.
    And from what I’ve learned through BlogSchool and other bloggy observations over the past few months – “you” is pretty cool.
    Katie :)

  • January 23, 2013 6:40 pm

    Beautifully written, poetic
    Your words connect with feelings that I am sure many of your readers share
    Makes me wonder, and I mean really wonder, before this, before the internet and being able to stay home, safe, and still be connected
    How did people cope with their anxiety? Share their story?
    Or was is all just about being alone, me and my +1 – anxiety?
    Keep sharing, I love reading your words xx

  • Dianne

    January 23, 2013 8:35 pm

    No, I don’t suffer from anxiety. My daughter does. I see how crippling it can be; it hurts me when I see her pain. She is learning to manage it and work around it. They say your children are your best teachers and she has taught me so much. There’s no such thing as “normal” and the only thing you have to be “afraid” of is secrets. So, thank you for sharing. x

  • Lina

    January 23, 2013 8:43 pm

    Husband went 2.5 weeks without leaving the house, six months ago. He wouldn’t even go out the back door – foetal position at the mere thought of it. Phone call to his Psychiatrist went something like this: “Sorry, for the late notice but he’s not coming to his appointment today: I can’t get him to leave the house.” Cue a change in medication, and 3 days later he was out browsing in the local EB Games store.

    I’m sorry anxiety is being an arsehole to you, right now. I hope you find something to help you put it back in its box. x

  • January 23, 2013 8:45 pm

    Even though I hate anxiety, I like the way you’ve written about it here – only because it really expresses how I feel when I have it, which is most of the freaking time. Thank you for sharing, so that I – and others – realise that we’re not alone.

  • Justine

    January 23, 2013 8:49 pm

    Oh Anna I could relate to so much of what you have written. I’ve had some very interesting times over the years with anxiety! I think everyone finds their own way….part of mine has been accepting things as they are and focussing on what I have rather than what I lack. I’m glad you have shared your story. One day I hope I have the courage to share some of mine :)

  • siobhan

    January 23, 2013 9:54 pm

    Hi Anna,

    So sorry for what you’re going through, i went through the year from hell in 2011 with anxiety and panic attacks, couldn’t leave the house for three months, lost my job, nearly lost my partner and my life but hey after a tough couple of years i made it through I had my last pyschiatry appointment last week and he said I seem to be one of the few patients that he won’t have to see anymore. So fingers crossed you beat this and get to go to Tasmania, I’m actually going over there for easter, this time 2 years ago I couldnt even leave my bedroom!

  • Nat

    January 24, 2013 10:22 pm

    I’ve wanted to comment on this ever since I read it the day it was posted. But it hit so close to home, it took up until now for me to find some words!! Here goes…

    I love how you write about your anxiety Anna! Don’t get me wrong, I hate anxiety, I hate that you go through it. But your words are, so, honest. You’ve got so much courage to just put it out there, like you do. I couldn’t do it!! I’ve tried…and failed! Kudos to you for that!

    Your writing helps me feel less alone through the shit times. Thank you!! xxx

  • February 13, 2013 10:17 am

    Wow! I get this, every single word of it.
    Anxiety is like living 2 lives for me. The public persona that people see where I appear together and on top of things, and then the reality inside my own head where I have to convince myself that it’s ok to go out, that I can do it, that people are ok to talk to, that the mail box isn’t really that far of a walk, that the washing line is a much better option than staying inside and putting the clothes in the dryer just because I don’t want to go outside.

    My closest friends laugh knowingly about how I am, and it took me a long time to tell them, but I have good people who know what I mean when I say the day has been a tough one, or the week has been a bit dark. I don’t have to explain, they just know and that helps.

    I wonder will this 2nd dialogue always follow me through life? It’s a bit like a rollercoaster, but one that I have just learned to be ok with and embrace for what it is x

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