Ah, anxiety. It’s a big (well, perhaps medium-sized) scary word that countless people are familiar with, either because they suffer from it themselves or know somebody who does. In the hustle and bustle of the modern age, it’s easy to forget that anxiety still plagues many of us. Indeed, some might even say that it doesn’t truly exist and that certain folks are just “acting” nervous or could easily snap out of their worries if only they listened to a short pep talk and ate an ice cream cone.
The bottom line is that most people don’t really understand anxiety. It isn’t something that can be turned on or off or be consciously controlled in an effective manner. To help you get a better sense of what exactly this malicious state of mind does to a person, here’s a short little list of some of the things that anxiety does to you, which I am familiar with since I suffer from it myself…
1. How annoying it is when people tell you to “stop worrying about it.” Trust me, homie, if I could stop worrying about how I’m going to get all my work done and when exactly he’s going to text me back and if I’m going to be late for dinner, I’d stop. You telling me to stop worrying just makes me worry about it even more.
2. “Maybe” is the worst word in the English language. Uncertainty triggers the worst anxiety. Especially these days, with everyone making such loose plans. Don’t tell me “I’ll hit you up later.” Let’s just make our plans now and be done with it, thank you very much.
3. How loosely people use the word “panic attack.” No, a panic attack is not simply freaking out. It’s like when you’re crying and you literally cannot breathe and everything will not be OK and it never has been OK and you feel like you’re going to die.
4. Waking up in the middle of the night and not falling back asleep because your brain is a spinning wheel of anxiety. You have so much to do tomorrow and now you’re going to be so tired and you basically ruined everything and oh my god, I accidentally said that weird thing to my boss the other day and now she totally hates me and…
5. You get anxiety about the tiniest things. Your phone is going to run out of battery, even if it’s at 53 percent. Are your friends hanging out without you? Why didn’t you get invited? Oh my god, you missed the subway to work, and now you’re going to be late and it’s all your fault.
6. You can’t stand being late or early. You freak out about being early — Will it be weird? What will I do while I’m waiting? — but if you’re late, you freak out about keeping someone waiting or getting called out for being late by your teacher or having your boss get mad at you or…
7. If you ever have to cancel plans, you’re afraid everyone will hate you. Sometimes you just need a night off. Then, of course, you get anxious about it. Because you’re anxious about everything. Because anxiety sucks.
8. When your anxiety is in full-throttle and you just shut down. Fetal position and Klonopin, please.
9. You have anxious ticks you don’t even notice. For me, it’s slapping my leg and overusing the word “honestly.”
10. When too many people are trying to communicate with you at once, your brain feels like it’s about to explode. How do you respond to everyone at once? How do you resist the urge to throw your phone across the room?
11. On the flip side, when no one’s texting you back, it’s definitely because they all hate you. It’s all because of that thing you said three years ago. Or they never liked you to begin with and they’re done pretending. Yep, it’s definitely that.
12. That sporadic anxiety crying. Please, pay no attention to me, I barely even know what I’m crying about. I’m just so overwhelmed.
13. Those terrible anxiety stomachaches. Owwwwwwwwwww!
14. You freak out if there’s no order in your life. Calming activities include: making to-do lists, cleaning, organizing, and taking deep breaths.
15. Feel like watching a funny movie? NOPE. Sorry your brain wants you to worry about whether you’re destined to be forever alone.
16. It takes forever for you to do anything because you’re frequently lost inside your own head. Also you have to triple-check that the door is locked/the iron is off/the dog has been fed.