My anxiety is a race horse. My anxiety is running at full speed. Wait, ok, maybe my anxiety is one of those coach horses that only stops at a very specific command. The thing is, I don’t know what the command is. So it’s just running and running wild and repeating the same thoughts and telling me what I should do and what i shouldn’t.
My anxiety is not evil. It’s never told me that I deserve to die or that I deserve for everyone in my life to hate me. Sometimes it says I am fat, but then it offers solutions like exercise more, or eat less, or starve yourself, or learn to not care. It’s a rounded out kind of advice, some of it is helpful and some of it is hurtful. It’s just doing it’s best. It’s doing its best to help me become the kind of person I long to be, the kind of person I could be, the level of me that is best and ultimate. But my anxiety is going about it too intensely. Its dragging me by my feet. Its latched into every aspect of my life screaming at me to do better, be better, want better. To improve everything at once. Be more fit. Write more. Write better. Read more. Read different books. Read harder books. Read bigger books. Keep a diary. Write a book. Start a writing group. Be the top of your class. Study more so you’re the top of the class. Watch less television. Watch the popular shows so you know all the references. Watch every pop film. Watch indie films. Watching indie films makes you cultured and cool. Take your camera. Take photos of everything. Be that person who always has a camera. No be that person who always has a book. Be both. Drink tea. Drink loose leaf tea. Drink teas with long names. Only drink one specific far out tea. Drink coffee. Drink it black. Drink it with honey. Drink espresso from a tiny cup. Wear big earrings. Don’t wear earrings with that hat though. Write about this. Write about the trees. Write in a tree. Go outside and write until your fingers turn black. Real writers have pain and push the limits. Push your limits. Push yourself. You can be a much better person than you are. Write about that girl, write about who you wish you were. Don’t write about Anxiety. Put a color to your anxiety. Make it a shape, a person, an animal, a feeling. What’s the aura of your anxiety? What is her name?
I started fully acknowledging her this summer. I read a book about a girl with an anxiety disorder. It read a lot like mine. Like how high school was for me. It felt like stumbling into a room I had in my brain that I didn’t know was there, and finding photos of myself that I didn’t remember being taken. It also felt like I was probably feeding my inner hypochondriac. I decided to ignore it. But then it kept eating at me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought that maybe i should write everything down. I wrote down everything that felt like it was relevant. All the coping mechanisms I had in high school. All the little things I do now. My random bouts on the floor of my closet. The nail biting. The face picking. The eyebrow pulling. The scripts I had written for myself before there was a person to help me get out of my head. I found numbers of local talkie docs that I could hit up for a diagnosis. To know if I was actually crazy or just crazy for thinking I was crazy. I told a friend. I listed all of the attributes of my personality that make sense now. All the details that didn’t make sense about me until I read this book and looked up this thing and read about it and now it all fits together. My puzzle complete.
But then I didn’t call. I tried, I really did. I’m not just saying that to sound like I did. But the first one didn’t take my insurance and wouldn’t point me in the direction of someone who could. And then I got a full time job and all the sudden my restless spirit had an outlet for a while and it didn’t seem pressing. Besides, Anxiety and Self-doubt showed up and suddenly I was questioning the whole thing entirely. What if my person is just that. What if there is no magical diagnosis that attributes every aspect of who I am and maybe this was just another human attempt to find meaning. To find my place in the world. I assigned myself and made it fit so I could take a shortcut and feel settled in my existence. I tried calling another number, but she didn’t answer. I did more research and found a second number for the same woman so I called that one, because what if she hadn’t updated her listing and the first number I called was the wrong one. I tried again a week later. And then I started school. And once again I had an outlet, I had assignments to finish, I had work. I tried to fit in writing and reading when I could. Mostly I got caught in a rabbit hole, falling down in my own thoughts. The Universe had enough of my bullshit and started punching me in the face with “signs.” A friend of a friend got diagnosed with a compulsion disorder. A popular YA author published a book for the first time in years about a girl with thought spirals. I have a third number. I haven’t called him yet. I probably should. He might help navigate the never-ending self reflections, the self analyzations, the nail-biting, the face picking, The bouts on the floor of the closet, the self-doubt that turns into pulling out those old scripts to remind myself that this isn’t me. But it is me. And I know what he would say. He would ask how many cups of coffee I drink, and I would try to defend it. I would mention that coffee actually soothes my panic attacks, and that its smell is one of comfort. And he would shake his head and talk all sciencey about how coffee can increase your anxiety especially on an empty stomach. Do you drink it on an empty stomach? And I would be that scene in Gilmore Girls when Rory is sobbing to her therapist about how much she loves coffee and I would have to develop an entirely new morning routine for myself. Or he would say that it’s just the coffee and that if I cut it out of my diet I’ll be fine and no you’re not diagnosable or crazy, there’s nothing special about you, everyone has anxiety and yours is nothing major. Stop drinking coffee and we’ll part ways and I’ll never see him again because he was right i’m not crazy I was just looking for a shortcut. But. If i am just searching for a way to stick out why would I choose the monster that almost everyone has? Why would I spend months obsessing over this possible solution nitpicking every flaw in it’s ruling only to realize it’s sound logic, why would I do that unless there was some truth to it? To answer that, I should probably call. But I’ve coped this long, I’ll probably not get much out of it, save for a diagnosis.
So. I’ll just put it off a little longer.
2 thoughts on “I’ll Call Her Samantha”
Like John Green’s book, your post is a powerful glimpse into what anxiety feels like. The avalanche of thoughts in the second paragraph and then the question of “What if my person is just that. What if there is no magical diagnosis that attributes every aspect of who I am and maybe this was just another human attempt to find meaning. To find my place in the world.”
Again powerful, and it is not the coffee.
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