Warning: My Anxiety Wrote This Column, and She’s a Side Effect of My Sickness
This column is brought to you by anxiety.
My anxiety isn’t very nice to me. She knows I need to write a column today, and that it’s the only day I can do it, but also that I have a mile-long to-do list I need to finish quickly.
She knows there isn’t really anything “wrong” in my life right now — that all of the important pieces I review in my mind at night (“Are my children safe? Are my children safe? Are my children safe?”) are OK — but she doesn’t care. She likes to think about all of the things that could go wrong, or have gone wrong in the past but can’t be fixed now. Or, the things that will most certainly happen … I just don’t know it yet.
She likes to remind me of all the times I don’t feel liked by everyone. I like to be liked by everyone, even though that’s illogical. I want zero conflict in my life. I’m scared of it. (Unless someone messes with my kid, and then I’m like J.Lo from “Enough.”) And I’m utterly terrified of someone hating me.
Everyone has someone who hates them, and I really hate that. My anxiety likes to remind me of tiny micro-nothings that mean, well, nothing.
“Remember when someone said they miss doing pirouettes in dance class? That’s your fault. You took this return-to-dancing-slowly goal too slowly, and now people hate you, and they hate dancing with you, and you aren’t making anyone happy like they deserve because you don’t use enough pirouettes.” (I told you she wasn’t very nice.)
I review sentences I once said that others have forgotten, and they live a thousand new lives in my mind.
Last week, I said the word “spazz” in dance class multiple times. As I was saying it, I realized that the word is offensive to those with cerebral palsy or nerve disorders, and I needed to retract it from the air back into my mouth as quickly as possible. Instead, I said it about five more times.
The next day, in dance rehearsal, I said the word “gangsta” (as in, “in paradise”) to describe the level of swag we needed to have for a silly combo. I then cycled through in my mind how that’s offensive to Black culture, and most definitely appropriated, and most definitely not a good word choice, but sometimes my inner ’90s child just comes flying out of my mouth when I least expect it. How do I make mistakes and learn that I’m just making them, not of them?
But you know what I hate the most about my anxiety? The fact that I hate people who talk about their anxiety. Including me. In certain ways.
When we talk about it like it’s our whole person, all of us, who we are. When we secretly compete for who has the most anxiety. When we start sentences with “when.” (Do I even write for a living? What is happening here?) And when we don’t seem to recognize that anxiety doesn’t make us suffer more or set us apart from others — it connects us.
I think we all have anxiety — in varying levels, yes, and differing forms.
For some, it’s a disorder — something to raise awareness of and educate about. For others, possibly me, we pretend it isn’t much of a “something,” even while losing sleep nightly because we can’t turn our brains off, sure we’re failing at everything.
Am I failing at this column? Probably. I’m not really writing it, am I? It’s my anxiety doing the typing. But it’s also me. A person.
A person with physical health problems, which can be seen outwardly in certain bathing suits and felt inwardly, always. A person who spends so much time worrying about the safety of her children (which isn’t always guaranteed) and the next surgery or appointment (which is less stressful than the children part) that she doesn’t recognize that this is also a part of her health. This is no less important than the scars, and the signs, and the somatic suffering you can see.
We talk about the “anxiety and depression” side of chronic health and I always think, “Is that even a thing? It’s not a symptom on its own. It’s just a side effect of the symptoms we have.” But maybe I’m wrong.
I’m wrong a lot. That’s a side effect of life, too. I want to be better about being unwell, because even when things are going well …
I keep worrying they’re about to get worse.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.