Anxiety: The Brain Bully

Person behind dirty windows
Person behind dirty windows

A lot of my friends are writers or other creative type people. By being a creative person and hanging out with similar folks, I have learned that with creativity comes mental illness. I'm sure not ALL creative types are mentally ill, but I have yet to meet one who does not suffer from some sort of disorder. Seriously, I have never heard of a perfectly normal and well-adjusted writer, artist, photographer, or whatever. We all have SOMETHING that makes us a little different. Most of my friends have depression. I feel for them as I have had depression twice in my life, once after my son was born, and then while going through my divorce. I actually thought about killing myself during my divorce. So, I get the whole "depression lies" thing because it does. It tells you that you are worthless and that you should die. It's a horrible thing.

I don't have depression now, though. Nope. I have it's twisted cousin -- anxiety. Anxiety lies, too, but more than that, it bullies. Anxiety pounds you with horror movie thoughts like that mean 4th grader used to throw erasers at your head during quiet reading time. Anxiety doesn't give you a moment of peace, even when you're sleeping. It wakes you up to torment you. Here is a recent midnight chat I had with anxiety.

Me: [sound asleep and dreaming about kittens]

Anxiety: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Me: [Sitting up in bed] What?

Anxiety: HOW can you sleep at a time like this?

Me: Why shouldn't I sleep?

Anxiety: Your son isn't home.

Me: I know. He went out with his friends. He's 18.

Anxiety: He could be dead.

Me: He's not dead. Wait? IS he dead?

Anxiety: He could be. What if one of his friends murdered him?

Me: His friends are nice. They wouldn't kill him.

Anxiety: You don't know that. Marty killed Bobby. They were best friends.

Me: Marty is a psychopath. My son's friends are not psychopaths.

Anxiety: How do you KNOW that? You don't know. Plus, he could be dead even if he wasn't murdered.

Me: [listening to my heart race] Huh?

Anxiety: Maybe he was in an accident. Maybe he's trapped in his car at the bottom of a lake.

Me: No. There's not much water around here. He's a good driver.

Anxiety: It COULD happen. Anyone could be trapped in a car underwater. It could happen to you, your son, your husband, your mother. Anyone.

Me: [having trouble breathing normally]

Anxiety: You need to save everyone! You need to get everyone you know one of those things that can break car windows underwater. EVERYONE. Go on Amazon right now and order a case of them. You also have to get something so everyone can attach the window breaker to their belt loops. Other wise, the damn tool could be floating around in the car and no one will be able to reach it and they will still die.

Me: Oh no! I hate water. Why do we have it? It will kill us all.

At this point, I give up and reach for my iPad. My husband continues to snooze next to me while I sign in to Amazon, magnifying the tiny iPad screen to accommodate my old people eyes. I search for the glass breaking tool and then Google "escaping a car underwater" 5,897 times. After reading several articles, spending too much money, and even watching some videos that make my palms sweat, I tire myself enough to go back to sleep about eighteen minutes before the alarm goes off.

So, what about you? Do you have anxiety? Does it bully you in the middle of the night?

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If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.