I have panic and anxiety disorder. Among all of the obvious downsides to having this disorder is the ability to instantly, and without warning, think of the absolute worst outcome for any given situation in life. There is no real reasoning for the thoughts that randomly pop into my addled brain. There is only their constant presence while I attempt to build my facade of normalcy. Calling it a gift would be like calling the ability to shit shards of glass on a long commute a gift.
At any rate, I thought perhaps a look at 100% real things I have thought, throughout my decades of dealing with my illness, might be helpful for people who don’t have the disorder. Perhaps a way to allow others to understand the completely asinine things my brain sometimes insists will come to pass if I leave the house or get too happy.
1. “If I go ice skating, I will fall on the ice, and then someone will skate by and slice my jugular with their ice skate and I WILL DIE ON THE ICE, STEAM ERUPTING FROM MY BODY.”
2. “What was that noise? Was that coming from my kid’s bedroom? SOMEONE IS SNEAKING IN THE LOCKED WINDOW AND WILL STEAL HER FROM THE HOUSE!”
3. “I have to drive under this train overpass. Okay. No probl—THERE’S A TRAIN ON IT. WHAT IF IT COLLAPSES JUST AS I DRIVE UNDER IT AND SPLATTERS ME ACROSS THE ROAD?”
4. “Look at all of the clouds and the tiny towns! Flying isn’t so ba—WHY DID WE JUST JUMP IN THE AIR? ARE WE GOING TO DIE? I CAN’T DIE! WHERE IS MY XANAX?!?!?”
5. “I think I’ll buy this for myself.” Later in the day: “Oh my god, what if something breaks and we need the exact amount of money I just spent, but we don’t have it, because I SPENT IT? WE ARE GOING TO BE LIVING IN CARDBOARD BOXES BY THE FREEWAY AND EATING GAS STATION HOT DOGS FROM DUMPSTERS. WHY AM I SUCH A SELFISH ASSHOLE?”
6. “Everyone secretly hates me and thinks I suck. They’re pretending to like me so they can embarrass me. They think I’m terrible and the worst writer at Pajiba. It’s a matter of time before the truth comes out.”
7. Then there was the election cycle where I averaged only about 3 hours of sleep per night. I was too busy vomiting from stress to sleep. I stayed up the entire election night, sick as a dog, and then bawling with relief when President Obama was declared the winner.
Living with anxiety and panic is like having a dickish gnome whispering the worst possible outcome for any situation into your ear. Even if it seems like I’m making these up (I’m not), people need to understand that these fears are very real to us when they pop into our heads. It isn’t normal. You can’t predict when they will ruin a perfectly good day. You can only hope that the people around you are understanding and that your meds will act like brain teflon, bouncing the bad thought out your ear as soon as they hit your brain.