Panic At The Disco


Only the disco is my deck. So imagine a deck with thistle growing up through the slats. A ton a mint in front of it and a pile of wood engulfed by weeds by the steps. Unless that is how you remember discos looking, then feel free to just imagine a disco. The panic is just plain old panic.

I have been trying to live my life more honestly by being more who I am and allowing myself to be vulnerable. By not being ashamed or embarrassed by my anxiety and insecurities and depression. I am who I am, but not without a fuck ton of practice.

I practiced this evening. My phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number. This usually means I ignore the call, but it was a local area code. I thought there might be an outside chance the number was my work, so I answered.

In case you didn’t know, we have a presidential election coming up. I should have known it was a campaign worker.

Danielle was chipper and passionate. She thought I would have a terrific experience if I could commit to making phone calls or knocking on doors this weekend to help get the word out.

I considered what she said and how I usually deal with anyone who cold calls me. I say no thank you. I do not give them a chance to object. I just say no thanks and I hang up. I didn’t do this, though. I wanted to be kind and patient. I told her that I appreciated what she was doing and thanked her for her dedication. Then I told her that as I am introverted, I have a hard time calling people I actually know and that I’d rather gnaw off my own arm than knock on a stranger’s door. I also said that I support my candidate by sending funds when I can and that would be my only way of contributing.

This is what she said: “Oh, I totally get it. I am very introverted and have anxiety when dealing with strangers, but I feel like this is important enough that I have to put those feelings aside.”




Me: Okay. Bye.

In those few seconds, I felt both defensive and defeated. I wasn’t sure if I was better or worse at being introverted than Danielle. I was terribly annoyed that for a moment her comment became a goddamn contest in my head.

I am not going apologize for not wanting to knock on stranger’s doors. I’m not going to feel weak because I can’t, or rather won’t, put myself in suchpanic an anxiety inducing situation. I am many things and weak is not one of them.

I’m tired of apologizing for who I am. I don’t know if I am done apologizing for who I am or not, but I am tired of it.

Here’s where the panic comes in.

I thought about writing this and how I’ve decided that it’s okay to be genuine. I don’t have to hide if I don’t want to. We are here for such a short span of time, what’s the point of pretending? Then I started thinking about all the times I’ve written about anxiety, depression, parental narcissism, and I freaked the fuck out.

Are you soft in the head, jingle brains? 

Who the fuck does this? It’s weird to talk about struggling with mental illness issues to the goddamn world. 

You know, anyone can read this shit. ANYONE. 

You can’t take it back, it’s fucking out there. Did you think this through? No. No you did not. Just like everything else. You just do it without regards to consequence and how the fuck has THAT been working out for the past 53 years?

Or maybe 43. I mean, I didn’t start out making terrible choices. Other than when I smeared petroleum jelly all over my head. That wasn’t a great decision. Mom said it took her forever to clean it out of my ears. I was a toddler, so I should give myself a break on the petroleum jelly thing. 

I guess in the end, I just look at this the way I look at a lot of decisions I’ve made. Can’t change it now.

I mean, not that I want to. Writing and working through this shit has changed me in profound ways. Good ways. I am stronger than I used to be. I do care about myself way more than I used to. I’m not sorry that I’ve shared the ways I’ve struggled.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of panic.


Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann


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  • I am a total introvert – and that campaign worker makes me feel ashamed. Yet, I still could not do it. I would panic just thinking of doing it. And I won’t mention what I’ve done with petroleum jelly.

  • She doesn’t have what I’d call clinical anxiety and introvert—-ism. She has the kind that is fashionable among girls her age. In other words, she doesn’t have any mental disorder she’s just a ditz. Capital D Ditz, as I consider it.

    I spilled my guts on Facebook about my mental illness -harder to say than cancer, huh? Nothing ever came of it but for one woman “friend” that said that I have a lot of issues to work on. Well no fucking shit. You don’t have a clue. Fuck off. *BLOCK*.

    I would be nice to be able to block people IRL.

    You’ll be okay.

  • She freaking lied. She has no issues. It’s like asking you to run a 5K and you saying, “Sorry, my leg is in a cast” and her saying “Well, so is mine, but I care about world peace”. Fuck her.

  • You’re doing just fine, Michelle. A shit-ton of us appreciate your honesty and courage in writing about these issues. Unless someone’s a sociopath, I think all of us have those moments of panic. Breathe.

    • Thank you. It’s been a really hard week. Which is an understatement. Like one of the all time anxiety inducing weeks of my life. Not the number one or anything, but easily top 10. I’m having a hard time coming down. The medicine I’m taking isn’t helping much yet. sigh

  • First of all, “Danielle”, if that’s her REAL name, is full of shit! YOU are the sane one, since most everyone I know, including myself, HATE the “Danielles” of the world and appreciate the people who leave us the fuck alone when we’re enjoying (or not) our day, eating dinner, mopping a floor, etc. My phone number has been on TWO “Do Not Call” lists—national and state—for years and the s.o.b.s STILL call here. The only people we have knocking at our door are the Jehovahs and I simply ignore their knocks. Unless it had been Prince. I would have so answered the door and listened to whatever the fuck he had to say! HAHA! You want to proselytize? You’d better give me Prince or Stevie Nicks or somebody like that.

    In my late teens and early 20s, every weekend I was at the disco. It’s so dark in there and they mess with you by using strobe lights and such, for all I know, it very well COULD have looked like your deck! I never tripped over weeds, although I did slip occasionally in some drunk’s spilled drink. First rule of Dance Floor Etiquette: You never bring drinks or food onto a dance floor. WTH, people!!! What we anxiety people really need is our own community where we can live peacefully, being ourselves and helping each other out. We can have phones that automatically block lying bitches like Danielle and we’ll never, ever have to explain ourselves or apologize to insensitive morons who just don’t “get it”. We can use my garage for the Psychotic Douche Twizzles’ band practice! 😀

  • We make our decisions and some are good and some are bad. I admit to having some envy towards those whose parentage set them on the road to good decision making. My lot has been to stumble along and work it out- what’s a good, a bad or reasonable decision.
    In the end we all go the same way: yes the good decision makers and the bad decision makers. No matter, we all end up leaving this world after a few score years.
    The important thing is to remember is that if there is courage behind a decision it is largely relative. The decision of a man, suffering a panic attack or depression, to come to the rescue of a drowning child could have greater courage than that of the trained lifesaver who does the same good deed.
    Comparing ourselves to others leads to either pride or shame. Both are as bad as each other.

    • Thank you for this. You’re right. The times I have acted in a brave way (not a small number of times) I was acting while combating substantial anxiety. Not that I’m proud..but it does make me feel better about myself. I can use all of that I can get. 🙂

  • I think you hit the disco ball on the head when you said “what is the point of pretending?” Being who you are is key and way more important than knocking on doors and harassing people for any political cause. Go girl, and be you.

  • Loved this! I can’t claim to have real anxiety issues although I wonder if waking up in the middle of the night thinking…(well there was my first mistake….perhaps two…waking up and thinking).

    I am scared that I won’t make it through another day of stressed out people who are angry and hurt and just in general pissed off. (I work in insurance claims.).

    That introverted thing. I’ve often heard that introverts perform just as well as extroverts in social or business settings. It just exhausts us instead of energizing us. That seems as close to the truth as I know.

    I get the, “I’m not picking up the phone thing if I don’t recognize the number.” Sometimes I just refuse to pick it up if I do. Then I feel slightly guilty when I realize…that’s your Mom. The telephone ringing is an invitation. It doesn’t mean you have to accept.

    Stay strong Michelle.

  • As much as I hate jumping on a bandwagon I’m going to reiterate what others have said: Danielle does not have anxiety. She may be introverted in that she’s uncomfortable talking about herself but she has no problem knocking on strangers’ doors. Her response was either total youthful cluelessness or a very practiced very cynical technique for drawing in people by pretending she’s just like you.
    Your disco sounds like an awesome place to dance.

  • Just keep breathing. Those of us with mental health issues often have a hard time around the equinox. Shifting light patterns mess with our brains or something. It should settle down in a couple of weeks since the equinox is today.

    • For all that is holy, it could not come at a worse time. I have been working insane hours for a software upgrade that went as horribly as I feared and TODAY my baby boy (18) left for a 3 day music festival hours from home. This week has been so fucking difficult.

  • Some people are introverts, some people are obnoxious pains in the ass. Some people reflect thoughtfully, some people chatter like birds over each other till their jaws tire (they never seem to, though). Even with all I’ve experienced and dealt with, I’m a withdrawn introvert and prone to debilitating flashbacks. Sometimes I wish it weren’t so, and then I regain my sanity and become totally at peace with myself, warts and all. Screw the chatterboxes.

  • I’m sorry that your being genuine with Danielle backfired. I know she has a job to do but she was a total dick to you. If she “totally gets it” she couldn’t be doing that particular job. I’m glad you didn’t let her get you down for too long.

    I hope that your anxiety lessens soon and that your new meds take effect. Hang in there, Cutie.

  • Remember that anyone cold-calling you is invading your time and privacy and you are under no obligation to “let them in.” “Sorry, no thank you” is actually much nicer than some of the things that have come out of my mouth when I’ve run across the house to grab the phone I left three rooms away and I can’t read the caller ID, because I left my bifocals in the room I just ran from. Like-minded people trying to get out the vote get a kind, “I’m not available, but good luck.” Hucksters from India who claim to want to help me with my non-existent Window’s computer get this one:

    Version one (if I’m feeling nice):
    In a thick, Indian accent, “Hello, this is Josh from Microsoft calling about your Windows computer.”
    “No. It’s not. I don’t have a Windows computer.” Click.

    If I’m in a really rotten mood, it goes like this:
    “Hello, this is Michael and I’m calling about a message we received from your Windows computer. How are you today?”

    With as much sympathy as I can muster in my voice the whole time, “better than you, clearly.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “Things must be really rough where you are that the only job you can get is calling people and ripping them off. You do know that’s what you do, right? And I’m sure you also know that the people who fall for this sort of thing are usually very old ladies who don’t understand. So, basically, you’re ripping off old ladies. Hey, I have an idea, why don’t you go outside, find an old woman, beat the shit out of her and take anything valuable that you find. That’d be about the same, wouldn’t it?”

    This time the click comes from his end.

    If someone invades, might as well strike back.

    But, seriously, you do know that I have re-posted your political writings on Facebook several times and I’m sure some of my friends have re-posted my posts. So your ideas, which are well written and impactful, are being shared on a forum that is collective, rather than invasive and you don’t ever have to deal with closed doors or people hanging up on you. You are doing more than the enthusiastic, but insensitive Danielle will ever do. After all, she’s working from a script. You write your own.

    • THANK YOU! I love your responses. I am usually annoyed when I get cold calls. I really was just trying out a ‘kinder and more gentle’ Michelle. That didn’t work. hahahah.

  • I was going to say something smart and encouraging, but got distracted by Get Rubber Shoes in your inbox, and thinking ‘will they fit?’
    Anyways, that lady is a dick. And you’re awesome.

  • She was a dick. She doesn’t get it, because if she did get it, she wouldn’t of said that. But there are two suggestions I would like to make. 1) if the music is loud enough, you can’t hear the phone, and 2) if you dance hard enough, you stomp down the thistles. Wear shoes. That is all.

  • There are ‘introverts’ and then there are us.
    Keep putting yourself out here because it helps so many of us. Panic shmanic. Spin that disco ball baby and dance all over those weeds. They are survivors and so are we.

  • If it doesn’t work by Monday call your doctor. I know how hard that can be. Actually I’m so phobic it’s pathetic. (The medical social worker and professional anxiety patient is giving the advice. The professional anxiety patient is feeling her heart race saying this)
    I used to walk past appointments because I was too scared to go into them. A lot of my book is about my anxiety. It’s taking forever in large part because I get so anxious—especially when I realize people are actually interested in it.
    My father didn’t understand anxiety. he made me do a lot of things I was too scared to do. Walk into the most luxurious hotel and ask where the bathroom was. Walk into a luxe resort and use the pool–no we weren’t guests. There’s so much else and I can easily move into a luxe hotel. But I think my anxiety was made worse by all the things he made me do. Or maybe he helped—I’m very political so I began volunteering very young. Married a man because he was arrested at a peace rally–well only dated him because of that so there wouldn’t have been a marriage.
    Sometimes I get so hyper anxious I write the world’s longest and most absurd comments.

  • While I understand the importance of political action in Ohio, Danielle screwed up in a big way. I was taught in civics class in 1978 that the definition of political activity is anything anyone does to try to influence the opinions of anyone else. As someone trying to influence your opinion she, to use the vernacular, fucked up. The importance of your issue doesn’t give you a pass to ignore human decency, and in fact if you really do care about your issue, you have the responsibility to actually connect on a human level with those you wish to bring around to your way of thinking. Perhaps Danielle doesn’t know much about anxiety past what she and her friends say about it. That’s me being kind to her, which isn’t all that easy for me, as I get protective of people I like such as yourself. She’s actually lucky (this time) that it was you and not someone who would be put off and offended to the point of disengaging completely and failing to actually vote, which is the opposite of what she was trying for.
    For me it comes down to everyone has their own part to play, and yours is no less valid than hers (see also: Lawson, Jennifer) or mine for that matter. Yes, I know that phone banking and walking precincts are age-old tried and true methods of winning elections, but you won’t see me doing either because I walk with a goddamn quad-cane and my phone is paid for with minutes on a card. So my part is talking to people on the internet in places where I think hearing what I have to say might matter. At least I can do that much, which is more than I used to do, and on some political blogs I’m fairly good at it.
    This is always a stressful part of the election cycle, as right after Labor Day a lot of people who haven’t been paying attention all of the sudden start to and all of the polls go crazy and my inbox fills up with WE MIGHT LOSE GIVE US $3!!!!! over and over and over…
    I sincerely hope that your new meds start helping you very soon, and I have to stop typing now as the cat just walked across my keyboard and typed a bunch of crazy gibberish for me to delete, and I take that as a sign…

    • I get hit up for $5. IT IS CONSTANT. And you make a good point. Danielle could very well doing the opposite of what she intends. I wish your kitty was here right now walking across my keyboard because I’m at work and I would rather be cuddling a cat.

  • Michelle, don’t beat up on yourself. Your honesty is what draws us to read what you write and keeps us coming back for more. Maybe there really aren’t that many stories as I’m sure I’m not the only one who, upon reading your blog, has the feeling that parts of my own story are being shared. We recognise ourselves in your writing, and as a sometime ‘screw up’ it’s lovely to have company. (Not that I don’t think everyone screws up, it’s just refreshing to encounter those who own it.).

    As for the phone caller – WTF? You don’t have to be an introvert not to want to put yourself in that role. I’d consider myself an ambivert but I resent the crap out of anyone who calls my home or knocks on my door soliciting for anything, including a vote. For that reason alone it’s something I would never contemplate doing.

    • thank you! And yes, not only does knocking on a stranger’s door make me want to vomit, I don’t want to do it because I don’t like it when people come to my house asking for money or votes or want to talk about god.

      You’re right, I don’t think there are many different stories. I think the details are infinite, but not a whole lot of different stories.

  • OMG – I totally get this. I D-R-E-A-D my phone ringing. I also won’t answer if I don’t know the number.
    Personally I think it’s a bit rude of her to say “Oh, I totally get it. I am very introverted and have anxiety when dealing with strangers, but I feel like this is important enough that I have to put those feelings aside.” – she has absolutely no idea of the level of your anxiety or introvertness (if that isn’t a word I’m making it one !!) – geez, if it was that easy to put those feelings aside, I sure there is a fuckton of us in the world who would just ‘put those feelings aside’ and get on with living life like everyone else !!!
    Good luck with the elections – we are waiting with bated breath down under to see who wins. I really don’t want Trump to win but there is a teeny tiny part of me that says “If he wins, K & M may move to Australia sooner anddddddddddd I’d love to see what would happen to him if he did win. Hell, I’d love to see him change everything overnight the way he has promised. Maybe then he could move onto the rest of the countries in the world and make them better over a couple of months !!!’ LOL – he is so funny, although maybe not that funny if you have to live there !!!
    Have the best Friyay when it gets there xox

    • Oh god, he’s not funny to me. He scares the ever living FUCK out of me. I just want this over with. I want him to go away. I get what you are saying, though. I don’t blame you for wanting your kids home and close. 🙂

  • Aaargh, this makes me cross. Danielle does not suffer from anxiety. Danielle is not an introvert, despite her assertion. It’s not something you can just put aside, as you know only too well and she has no right to try and make you, or anyone else, feel bad for not wanting to do things that make them uncomfortable.
    Jeez I hate cold callers and their pushiness.

    Knocking on people’s doors is not going to change the result of this election. I just hope beyond hope that good sense wins the day.

  • As an adult child of a Narcissist I really feel your hurt.
    People say stuff quite innocently to me & yet I’m hyper vigilant to the ‘real’ meaning hidden within the words. Our Dads would make seemingly ‘innocent’ comments that would cut like a knife, in reality those words were far from innocent. We have worked so much harder to attain normality than ‘non ACONS’ will ever know. To decipher who we are/what we we’ve been led to believe we are is confusing & our journey is a challenging one, full of ups & downs but we ARE healing. I believe its really important that we remind ourselves that are Narc Fathers are not like most people. What the cold caller said was deeply hurtful, and I’d be right pissed off too, my knee jerk reaction would be to give her a huge fucking mouthful, however…as part of my healing I try to distance myself from that reaction and watch my thoughts rather than react. This brings me a lot of peace. I would try to tell my self that she was unconscious of the hurt she actually caused. Just mindlessly going from call to go, being told to fuck off a lot, not thinking. Unconscious. Dont let that meaningless cold call in. Just take a deep breath, let it go. The opposite in fact of what our Dads would do. Love…

    • Thank you because you’ve very eloquently described how I felt and why. I hate that anyone has been touched by parental narcissism. I always feel a little relief, however, when I speak with people who have narcissistic fathers. My mother is not a narcissist. She had a narc father and then married one, but she is a sweetie. I feel bad for people who have terrible mothers, but I don’t truly understand them because that is not my experience. Just like people who don’t have narc fathers don’t truly understand the experience. Not that it’s a contest or a badge of honor or anything, it is just comforting when you “meet” someone who gets how you feel. Or am I rambling? haha

  • No your not rambling, it really is wonderful to know others understand, being an ACON can be a very lonely place, but we are warriors! Namaste x

  • I struggle a lot with how much to share as well. That’s something that makes your blog that much more readable and likable to me. I appreciate your honesty and thank you for sharing!

  • The same thing happened to me. The phone call was local, but only identified by party affiliation, so I picked up.
    Which is unusual for me these days because I live in Florida and I have been getting political calls for over a year! When I’m not getting robo-calls starting with “Hello, Seniors” – supplemental health care, funeral insurance or pre-planned cremation – it’s another poll, state or local pol, even from the national party in which I have never been registered (I do yell at those people).
    But, I was equally perplexed, as you were, when I encountered that lovely, older woman (she was probably my age, which is old), who was so kindly asking me to vote for the party I already support. I reassured her that I would send in my absentee ballot the day I received it, and I would support the ‘down-ballot’ candidates of the party. It was when she asked me to volunteer that I started creating excuses in my mind and successfully begged off, but I have felt like shit ever since.
    This is not meant to put any guilt on you- far from it. The headquarters was way across the river and I don’t drive because I can’t pass the vision test until cataract surgery. I would probably scream and curse out people on the phone, and I have a policy that I will never cold call anyone after fund raising decades ago. Knock on doors in my neighborhood, where I spent my prividged white teen years? Not possible. I think my family was the only one of the other persuasion, and while the neighborhood is a different demographic, the political atmosphere hasn’t changed significantly.
    I have friends of many years that I have not been able to have a conversation with because of this fucking election. These are people I love, and would choose to think that they have temporarily gone insane, or worse, that I never really knew them. That last thought is definitely adding to my overall malaise.
    Michelle, you are doing fine and I love your writing.

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