Sometimes I wish I could drag “normal” people into my brain. Just for a tour around, maybe a quick cocktail, so they would understand why I’m so exhausted just being me.
This is where I should probably mention that I’ve dealt with mental health disorders from when I was a little girl. I’ve known more therapists than I care to count, been on more drugs than I care to mention, and have a pretty good situation set up right now, so this is by no means a pity-party. Or maybe it is. Shit, it probably is.
Well, what I’m hoping it’ll be is more an explanation of what it’s like to have anxiety. Because I feel like people are somewhat understanding of depression, but I have a lot of loved ones who simply can’t comprehend clinical anxiety. I mean, we all have anxiety, right? And we all live our lives just fine!
Which, granted, everyone has experienced anxiety, be it over a spelling test when we’re 7, or a presentation in front of the board when we’re 47. So I’m going to assume that even quote-unquote normal people have a baseline understanding of what’s going on here. But I thought I would step it up a little, and give everyone a few quick tips on how you can better understand your friend/family member/coworker/complete stranger with anxiety.
Set your doorway on fire.
No, not a huge sheet of flames, just a ring of fire. You know, like how a tiger has to jump through in the circus. Now just leaving the house is terrifying! Welcome to my world, suckers.
Release lots of gnats in your home.
Every time one lands irritatingly on you, it’s a little like one of those insane, nagging thoughts that we all have. “Did I leave the oven on?” “Did I say the right thing?” “Remember that time back in 5th grade when I totally messed up the choreography in the talent show?” I know. Everyone thinks that stuff. The difference is just the normal gnat population that may have existed previously, vs the swarms that are now following your face, wherever you go.
Take off your clothes in the middle of the sidewalk.
Is everyone staring at you? Oh god, everyone must be judging you and all of your life choices right now. If you’ve got anxiety, it’s all in your head. If you’re naked, then yes, they probably are.
Hire a drill sergeant.
Get him to follow you around and just yell insults about how you suck, while you try to live life. Make sure to tell him all your deepest insecurities first! But you can ignore him. Don’t worry about it.
Find a bunch of mean girls to be friends with.
I didn’t call you for a month, and you think I don’t care? Odds are, I’ve somehow convinced myself that you actually never really liked me, that I’m an unbearable weight on your life, and that you’re secretly relieved to not have to deal with me. And if your entire circle of friends is a bunch of bitchy 16 year olds, then yeah, they probably are rolling their eyes and texting about how lame your car is. For me, it’s paranoia, for you, it’s your new reality, and it’ll be fun for everyone!
Look, I’m sorry if this comes off as preachy, but it’s really goddamn hard to fight your own fight-or-flight instincts all day (spoiler alert: it’s always flight), so I want you to understand why I need a nap.
Ugh. FINE. Yes, I also just really, deeply, truly love naps.