I wake up, check my phone, and see messages from friends.

“Hey, can you help me with something? Want to go to the beach today in about two hours? Work out today? I think I’m hungry, what are you up to?”

It doesn’t matter who sends what – it might as well be in one message. It is too much and I haven’t had breakfast yet. Let me get out of bed to let my dogs outside. It’s really sunny out, that means people are enjoying the hot weather. There are people walking around outside. I wish I had an app that worked like Uber, except for people. I can see who is where and how close they are to me without leaving my home. That way, I can avoid them.

It’s 8am or close to so I feed my precious dogs in our sunroom so they get fresh air and enjoy the nice climate. All they do in the morning is nap in between sun bathing. I go back inside to make myself coffee and, most likely, eggs of some sort. While the burner is heating up, I try to think of clever way to use social media without people knowing I’m active on chat. If they see me active, the messages will continue. Annie likes to take this moment and whisper, “You’re a shitty friend and sooner or later, they will stop asking for you.” With that said, I am forced to open the messages and pretend to be interested in whatever daily run ins I have.

Do you really need help? I can’t make it out of my door but I can’t tell you this because I’ll sound crazy. The thought of even getting dressed to shower is already stressing me out. The beach? Shit, I need an excuse because if I agree to go, I immediately imagine myself sitting in the car and imagining all the different ways I am going to get into a car accident. What if I pee myself, poop myself, throw up because of the imaginary accident that will happen… any… minute… NOW. I play with my tongue ring when I am quiet, what if a car crashes into us and we survive but I have now bitten into my tongue so hard that I can’t stop the bleeding. What if an accident happens and no one can check on my dogs? I die, my husband has to go into the barracks, what will happen to my dogs? Will they go back to my parents? Of course, but then they will have to take care of my dogs, their dog, and cat. It’ll be chaotic. These thoughts run wild and cause my hands to sweat, chest tighten up, speaking of which, I have to say yes or no to working about. Let me handle this beach situation first before I answer to work out but I should work out before going to the beach. She is depending on me to work out. She’ll think of me as lazy and not committed. Fuck, why am I thinking of working out when I haven’t answered her back about the beach? Wait, who did I answer ‘yes’ to? Did I just agree to help her this afternoon? I have to cook dinner eventually! Wait, wait, wait, and my skillet is smoking because the butter burnt. I still haven’t even cracked the eggs.

I yell at Annie to STFU for a minute, put my phone down, cook my eggs, drink my coffee, put on a show on my laptop to watch and relax to. I forget for about 40 minutes that Annie even exists. I’ll wash the dishes later.

Back to these fucking messages. I agree to working out with her, helping her, and chit chat with her. The mindless chit chat makes me feel good. No pressure but she also understands when Annie comes around I am a different person. I love her, she is always honest with me. Am I talking about Annie? Or my friend? I don’t know anymore. I open the beach message and reply no. Not because I am busy, not because I don’t want to, I just can’t. My body and my mind will not let me. Annie won’t let me die today, I guess she is looking out for me.

I constantly look at the time because there is not enough time in the world for everything. It’s time to get ready and work out. Why. Are. All. These. People. Here?! Why did they all look at me as I was walking over? “Do I walk funny,” I ask Annie, “Yes,” she replies confidently, “You are not matching colors, you don’t walk femininely, and why are you wearing sleeveless tops like your arms are toned?” My legs are moving but I feel like I am dragging wights behind me. “I’m going to work out, why should my clothes matter? I don’t feel comfortable with sleeves when I work out,” but Annie always has an answer, “Look at their arms, they can wear what YOU want because they work out consistently. You haven’t earned the right to wear these clothes. They are judging you because of your double chin, flabby arms, round belly, blue hair. Everything about you is a joke.” I shake my head and remember where I am. I have finally crossed the street to work out. Where am I again? Why did it feel like 30 minutes pass as I walked across the street? Work it out.

We have the option to run or jog as a warm up. FUCK. ME. I guess I have to keep up. Annie runs next to me without skipping a beat, “No one expects you to run because they know your weight slows you down. So, walk and take forever or run and make it back breathless. It’s funny you care so much about what they think.” So, I run. Despite my shin pain, despite Annie weighing me down, despite the sun glare in my eyes. I just want to make this warm up finish now so I don’t have to hear Annie’s bullshit in my ear anymore. This is where I confuse struggling to run and struggling to beat an anxiety attack. “Don’t cry. More attention will be spotted on you. You cant run home because all your stuff is here. What excuse will you use now?” Finally, I make it back. I am mute. I say nothing.

We do survival work outs and somehow, for some reason, I cannot keep up. I feel like the last picked person in gym because I can’t fucking keep up. This is a strange feeling. I was always picked instantly as if it was an urgent mission to get the best of the best. I could run circles around the girls in gym who didn’t care to break a sweat. I am 30. My tooth hurts, my shins hurt, my neck was messed up, I get migraines, if I sleep in a different position during the night, I wake up in pain. Why is my body failing? I am working out with moms who take better care of themselves. Why can’t I keep up? “Because you’re lazy and you think you can cook but you don’t cook healthy,” Annie says as performs her squatting chest press with ease, “Now, you’re bringing your husband down with you.” Am I a shitty wife? No! I take care of him! Do I? This thought circles in my head with every new exercise because every time I stop for a break, Annie is shouting in my head. That’s it. I can’t take it. ANNIE, YOU WIN!

I don’t feel good. I am going to home.

I drag myself home as I hear laughter behind my back. Who is laughing? No one but Annie said everyone. “These voices won’t leave me alone.” That’s crazy, right? I don’t HEAR voices but I do. That IS crazy. Why does it take another 30 minutes? Why can’t I just RUN across the damn street? I can’t tell people this. Annie said people won’t understand. Everyone has anxiety so I’m not special. Why can’t I function right? Spell it out, a-n-i-x-e-t-y. It’s not even noon.

I shower and wash off my disappointment. Naked, I crawl back into bed while both my dogs follow. Mmmm, my dogs have that warm puppy smell. I run my fingers through the top of Potato’s (my dog) neck. She is so furry there. With every light tug I give her, I can feel my senses heighten as I close my eyes. My body flows out of the sheets like water. As I pet her, it feels as good as rubbing my feet on brand new, thick carpeting. If I keep running my hands on her body, I can feel my fingers push her fur up and feel her breathing. I put my fingers right by her armpit and I feel her pulse. Her pulse runs up my knuckles, up to my shoulders, and into my heart. Her heart beats for me. I must stay alive for her. I am her whole world. Her little paw pads feel smooth and ALWAYS smell like corn chips. I can feel my heart beat easing down with every breath I inhale of her scent. Why does she smell like shes been rolling around on concrete? Dammit. There goes my nice moment. Chimi (my little dog) always likes to lie down and curl up by my butt or crotch. I guess it’s the warmest part of my body? He will curl up and rest his head  in a position where he can still look at me. He is like my tail – always behind me. He tried to follow me everywhere to make sure I am close by. He has these huge, typical, chihuahua eyes that melt my heart. If I throw him a little kiss, without hesitation, he gets up, walks over my body to cuddle. I feel like tiny paws kneading my stomach as he passes up. He becomes this ball of fur next to my neck and rests his throat on mine. Somehow, this brings me warmth and comfort. For a moment, Annie isn’t allowed inside and I am normal. I don’t feel sick – I’m OK.