In October 2018 I spoke at Wildfire Women in London. It was one of those events where you can’t help but make deep connections with the other speakers, because everyone was so open and vulnerable. My heart is still melting from the love Thea Anderson put into this event.
When I started speaking I actually thought to myself that one day I will ‘die’ due to an overdose of adrenaline and anxiety. All those moments of intense heart beating, fast breathing, sweating and dry mouth though softened over time. In caveman times we needed those hormonal reactions to carry blood and oxygen to where it’s needed in preparation for us to make a quick decision and have the muscle power to potentially run away. On stage, there isn’t anywhere to run, you are stuck there. Hence the intensified feeling of anxiety that has nowhere to go. Once you ease into the moment, other hormones are released, which might cause shaking as your muscles start to relax. Terrible and worst of all, I kept thinking that I am the only person experiencing this. Turns out I am not.
One of the speakers I met was Rachel Shorer. Rachel writes and performs as a way to channel her tendency to over-share about her personal life and go on rants about stuff like feminism and culture – her words, so cool. She’s touring her spoken word show 10 Mistakes Every Girls Makes in Her Twenties around women’s living rooms at the moment, and also working on a first novel, The PeaceWeaver’s Wordhoard, which will be finished any day now. Honestly, Rachel said.
I wrote this poem late one night after taking part in a poetry slam – which is a bunch of poets performing competitively, getting scores for their poems from the audience. I experience anxiety, and although I love competing in slams, it sends my anxiety into overdrive. One night after taking part in a slam, I lay in bed, full of adrenaline, unable to get to sleep because my heart wouldn’t stop racing and my mind wouldn’t switch off, and that’s how this poem was born.
Dear Anxiety by Rachel Shorer
Please stop racing like if I won’t run
you would be happy
to leap out of my chest
and flee without me.
Could you not run over and over
every dumb thing I’ve ever done
and anything in my future
which could possible go wrong?
Breath. In and out. In and out.
It’s pretty bloody easy
but if I stop paying attention
you just give up. Seriously?
Dear adrenal gland,
That cortisol cocktail
which you mix is toxic
but you pour it through my body
until I’m feeling sick.
Dear sympathetic nervous system,
This is not the Serengeti,
there aren’t any lions around
and nothing is trying to eat you
so chill the fuck out!
Dear appetite, come back please,
and bring my sex drive with you?
Dear sleep, dear god,
I miss you.
Rachel Shorer writes and performs as a way to channel her tendency to over-share about her personal life and go on rants about stuff like feminism and cul-ture. She’s touring her spoken word show 10 Mistakes Every Girls Makes in Her Twenties around women’s living rooms at the moment, and also working on a first novel, The PeaceWeaver’s Wordhoard, which will be finished any day now. Honest.