I read an article about 18 struggles only anxious people have to deal with. I only identified with half of them.
Obviously, I suck at being anxious.
I read this article and my inner critic piped up: Did you READ that? You talk about being anxious, having anxiety and you don’t really have a problem. Other people with REAL anxiety are the ones who suffer. You’re just a pussy. Half, Michelle. You identified with half of them. Probably most people would identify with half of them and they don’t call themselves anxious. They probably leave their house every single day without a bottle of xanax.
I shut her up for a few minutes by reading a Buzzfeed article that promised to restore my faith in humanity. I can always use a little faith in humanity because so very often humanity proves how horrible it can be.
I was only halfway through before I was crying. Randy is used to this behavior from me, especially since I started skipping into menopause.
Randy: Why are you crying?
Me: This picture. A little dying girl wanted to hear Christmas carolers. She was only 8! She was just a baby.
Randy: You want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Me: I kind of do.
I know I write a lot of blog posts about the silly arguments we have and I poke fun at his logic some times (all the time), but I have to say, he’s incredible and he never fails to take care of me. He never gets annoyed with me when I overreact or worry obsessively about my health or our kids. He might get a little annoyed when I search my symptoms on WebMD, but really, he’s entitled to that much. And him being annoyed doesn’t stop me from doing it, so I am not inconvenienced by his annoyance in any way.
The peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk helped me get beyond the sadness of the stupid Buzzfeed article that I knew I shouldn’t read but I did anyway. Do I want to cry over everything? Is that why I do it? It’s like reading the comments on articles about fat shaming or women’s rights. I know I’m going to get angry when I read the comments, but I do it anyway. It’s like poking a sore tooth with your tongue. You don’t want to do it, yet your tongue keeps finding it’s way to the sore spot.
Or is that just me?
Then I turned back to my idea that I really don’t have it that bad. That the anxiety I feel isn’t professional level anxiety. I truly don’t understand my brain. Do I WANT more anxiety? Am I disappointed that I’ve never once felt agoraphobic?
I know how debilitating anxiety can be. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to struggle to leave your house. It must be horrifying to have regular panic attacks. I’ve had panic attacks and they are terrifying. I am glad that they are few and far between. I have a friend who went through a months long stretch of having them nearly every day.
I struggled this afternoon with feeling guilty and well, feeling anxious over whether or not I’m anxious enough to call myself anxious.
I’m grateful that I can walk through my front door without pause. I’m glad that I can go places alone and not be afraid. As long as those places aren’t in a social setting. I can see a movie or eat in a restaurant and not have a moment of anxiety.
Put me in a situation where there is a gathering or a meeting or a party or, fucking hell, a performance review and I’m crawling out of my skin. I’m grateful that I can bluff my way through most of these situations without letting them see me sweat.
I might struggle with feelings of anxiety when I go to a party, whether it’s large or small, but I can still do it. I might need to hide for a few minutes, but that’s a small price to pay.
I’m trying to convince myself how nonsensical it is to make comparisons. It reminds me of people who sneer at tragedies. Oh, a bunch of school kids were gunned down? That’s NOTHING compared to the number of children who die from (fill in a horrific cause of children’s death).
There is no comparing those things.
In the end, the dead kids are still dead.
Well, that’s a happy little thought, isn’t it?
The thing is, no one is asking me to defend or validate my mental issues. Except for me.
I guess feeling guilty about having amateur level anxiety makes as much sense as the time I was upset that my car repairs were affordable.
Either way, I have enough to work through without worrying whether or not it’s valid.
I will be grateful for the good days when I feel light and confident. On the days when I’m circling the drain or I’m pouring out sweat and the inside of my mouth tastes like I’ve been sucking on pennies, I will do my best to not berate myself for not feeling worse.
Or does that make no sense at all?