I made a mistake today. Actually, I made it days ago and didn’t even realize it, but got called out on it today (as was deserved). It wasn’t a big mistake. Hardly the end of the world. Not even a tiny world living inside an amoeba. Normal people would apologize, fix it and move on. I am not normal people. Not by a long shot. I did apologize and fix it. The moving on part? Not so much. I cried. I considered sending everyone I accidentally slighted fruit baskets. I considered how crazy that is. I got in my car and went to the grocery store (NOT for fruit baskets, for iced tea, which we drink like it IS the end of the world).
Once I got to the store, I was still obsessing over my mistake and completely forgot why I was there. I stood in the middle of the produce department, looking like a deer in headlights, panic rising in my throat. I almost cried again. Then I remembered: tea, milk, cat treats, dinner for Jake. Adrenaline on overdrive from a hair-trigger fight or flight response, I managed to get what I needed and get home. That’s when I decided to write this post.
First, let me say, this isn’t a woe-is-me post. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m hardly the only person in the world with issues. Everyone is a little insane. Anyone who claims otherwise is the most insane of all! That, my friends, is called being delusional! I just figure maybe if someone else out there has the same issues, they’ll feel a little better knowing they’re not alone.
What It’s Like Living with Anxiety Disorder
When you have anxiety disorder, you don’t just have a hair-trigger fight or flight response, you also have this insane notion that you should ALWAYS be perfect. Always get everything right. NEVER make a mistake. If you do make a mistake, fix it before anyone notices. If they do notice? END OF THE WORLD. I thought it was just me. I thought I was a total freak for feeling guilty over ever single mistake I ever made- big or small- for all of eternity.
My therapist told me I’m not a total freak. I think she has to say that, but in this case, she’s referring to the fact that this is part of anxiety disorder. Apparently, I am a freak in the sense that I’m a control freak. Just like I have a hard time saying “no” to people or delegating things to others, I also have a sense that if I don’t do everything right, something bad will happen. So I’m normal…for someone with anxiety disorder.
The main part of anxiety disorder is living in a constant state of fight or flight. Everything from a minor mistake to a major tragic event causes my sympathetic nervous system to go into overdrive. I’d say 99.9% of the time, I choose flight. Duck and cover, baby. I literally used to hide in the bathroom when I couldn’t deal with something. As a pre-teen and teenager, I’d lock myself in there and scream in frustration because I didn’t know what else to do. Back then, I didn’t know I had anxiety disorder. I would just scream, cry and generally freak everyone out until whatever upset me was out of my system. I think everyone thought I was just a brat. I’d think I was a brat too if I didn’t understand better.
Anxiety disorder isn’t all bad, I guess. When I took Abnormal Psych in college, my professor told me that some researchers believe that it’s a left-over bit of genetic coding from the days when we had to outrun saber tooth tigers and whatnot. So if dinosaurs attack or the zombie apocalypse happens, I’m actually MORE likely to survive than “normal” people. Take that! I’ve been dealing with anxiety disorder most of my life, so I really don’t know what it’s like to be “normal” anyway.
I think being a little crazy has made me a better writer and a better person overall. I’m very careful with other people’s feelings. I know what it’s like to be” over-sensitive” or “thin-skinned.” I truly treat others as I want to be treated. I want to be someone who helps build others up, not tear them down. I have a deep level of empathy and sense of loyalty. I don’t know if I would be that way if I was one of those people who wasn’t scared of anything. So while I don’t love living with anxiety disorder, I’d be afraid that wiping it out would also wipe out my better qualities.
What about you? We all have our own issues, do you have any that you think make you a better person, even if they’re not fun to live with all the time?