a disorder, maybe.
‘Self Portrait of an Anxious’ And/Or Wikipedia’s Main Photo On Their Anxiety Page
I’m fairly sure I have an anxiety disorder. I’m not 100p sure, of course, though who can be 100p about anything, right? I am anxious most of the time about most things, and often find myself spiraling, looping, repeating, replaying the same things in my mind, a detective obsessed only with cases that he cannot solve. Some days are fine, I’m great and happy and even a funny guy, and then others are real shitshows of rumination wherein deciding what podcast to listen to becomes 20 minute ordeal. Though, does not knowing what podcast to decide to really mean I have anxiety? Or am I just being a baby who can’t make a decision. Normally, at this point I would google something about anxiety to check. Something like ‘can’t make a small decision’ + ‘anxiety disorder’ and I would find something like this:
I would then look at the link URLs - heysigmund.com, psychcentral.com, psychologytoday.com, etc. and decide they’re all garbage nuwave clickbait and not dare to go any further. That is until I saw the “is there a disorder for being indecisive” question from my helpful totally friendly ‘do no evil’ pals at Google and click it:
At this point, depending on caffeine intake and my overall mood levels, I’d either do a deep dive on aboulomania or decide the whole idea of my trying to figure this out is stupid and try to move on with my day. The latter is the more likely scenario, wherein I would take on the voice of the judgmental skeptic, angry at myself for falling into one of these traps and for looking up something so stupid (as confirmed by the ridiculous website names that first popped up, I mean what the hell is ‘heysigmuend.com’ for god’s sake.)
Either way though, more than likely, I would return to this question a few minutes later, and a few minutes after that, and a few minutes after that, and a few minutes after that.
This push-pull would dominate the thoughts of my day and send me into a state of self-loathing that would color the rest of my decisions and perceptions of how others view me, how I’m doing at work, what my partner thinks of me, how my friends and family view me, etc.
Even writing this out, which I did with the intention of being truthful and funny, has brought me somewhat into this mental state, agitated and sweatypalmed, worried about worrying.
I love how every single stock photo of anxiety has people covering their heads with their hands, as we all know the international symbol of anxiety is someone with a migraine playing peekaboo.
I hope the above rant illustrates the way in which anxiety works, though I’m honestly not sure that it does. I’m more sure that most reading this will think I’m just being sensitive or irrational or the many other words I’ve been told define me in my most anxious moments. Regardless, I did find some joy and release in writing this, especially when I realize that there might also be people out there who read this and see themselves in it, a little less alone for the meanwhile.
I have a ton more to write on the topic, much of which I’m not yet confident enough to share, but I will leave you with this:
Anxiety sucks. Either you are inside of it, which sucks, or you are somehow outside of it and enjoying your day, which of course ends up being the perfect place for anxiety to pounce, to consume you with no one on guard to protect you. These are some of the hardest experiences, wherein you realize only hours / days / weeks later that you’ve been caught inside of an anxiety spiral that has worn your skin and taken over your psyche without letting you know. That’s one thing I’m sure of, I think (ugh), is that both anxiety and depression (which more and more people are saying are actually like twins separated at birth, more alike than different) do their best work when you are unaware of them. That’s when they wear your skin, they talk like you and act like you and so you forget that there’s any difference between you and them, engulfed in the wave of whatever obsessive thought you’ve become ensconced in for the day.
I had to loop up the word ‘ensconced’ to make sure I used it right - it’s defined as “establish or settle (someone) in a comfortable, safe, or secret place” - that sounds about right, especially the safe and secret part. That’s the other thing about anxiety, is that for some part of your brain and psyche, it feels weirdly good, or comforting, or safe - it is something you know, something you feel like you can control.
I’m rambling, which means it’s time to wrap this up. A few days ago, I spoke to a friend about my fears of putting my work out there. She recommended I stop thinking so much about myself and think more about other people, about what others might get out of this and how my work could help them. I hope this maybe helps someone on a google-quest to solve the unsolvable, to spiral back toward themselves instead of ‘heysigmuend.com.’
PS - I’m sure heysigmund.com is a perfectly good site and am aware that my rage against it has much more to do with my own fragile sense of self worth than just about anything else (my lawyers made me write that*).
*no they didn’t. I don’t have any lawyers…yet.