Public transport timetables aren't the only thing that make my heart race and my gut clench like some kind of awful stitch. Sometimes it's even my own self-enforced timetables. A few weeks ago I played a football match in the evening, and planned to go for a quick drink with teammates after the match. It makes me feel stressed if I'm in bed much later than 11 as I know I'll be tired the next day, but on this occasion we were still in the pub at last orders, and the pub is 45 minutes from my house. Again, I couldn't relax and enjoy the time with my friends as I spent every minute watching the clock tick further towards certain tiredness. I raced home and walked through the front door just before midnight, and then could barely sleep due this impending feeling of lateness; keeping a constant calculation as to how many hours it was until my alarm chimed the following morning. I do this any time I'm out in the evening before work - constantly looking at the time, checking the traffic and calculating the time I need to leave to be home at a reasonable hour. Even on a day when you might imagine I could relax - a lazy Sunday or a Saturday with no plans - I still have a countdown running of what I need to do that day, and how many hours I think it will take. As my timer depletes, my stress levels increase, running through my to-do list in my head and feeling time run away with me. It feels like a total loss of control, like something I can't put my hands around and hold close to my chest.
I wish I knew an easy way to counteract my 'timexiety' - a way to switch off the twist and turn of the metaphorical knife in my stomach, to stop my heartbeat speeding and my adrenaline rushing with every glance at the clock. I try and tell myself that there's really no consequences to not meeting my allotted timetable - if I miss my train there's plenty more, if I have to go to work on six hours' sleep I'll probably survive, if I'm late for an appointment it's not a big deal. But it doesn't make any difference. I try and slow down my breathing, take deep inhalations, but I can't seem to stop it in its tracks. My anxiety about time slipping away, about lateness, missed trains, long to-do lists, late bedtimes - like time itself, seems to be something I just can't control.