Wednesday, May 20, 2015

10 Dumb Things That Give Me Anxiety

Like all humans, I suffer from anxiety. Like a smaller subset of humans, I often suffer from crippling anxiety. Sometimes, these bouts of extreme anxiety are brought on by serious things like when I was 24 and I was laid off from my first post-college-adult-type job. Sometimes, they're brought on by really stupid things like the sound of a phone ringing. So just for fun, here is a list of 10 things that tend to trigger my anxiety.

1. Telephones. True story- I once broke down and cried in my room when I was in the eighth grade because I needed to call another kid to cover my shift at my job at our Church Rectory. I still get a massive rush of adrenaline whenever I hear a phone ring.

2. Ladders. Good lord I hate climbing ladders. If I have to go up a ladder, I will spend the whole time imagining myself falling and breaking my neck.

3. Talking to Strangers at Parties. Scarier than telephones- actually talking to strangers in person. Small talk? No, and thank you. Here's my preferred way to spend a party:

4. Going on Vacation. I went to Florida recently to visit some friends and Harry Potter. Here are some actual thoughts I had while basking in the Florida sun, hanging by the pool, riding Pirates of the Caribbean, and walking through Diagon Alley:

  • What if something happens while I'm on this vacation and I get fired from my job?
  • What if my apartment burns down?
  • What if something bad happens to my cats and I'm not there to help them?
  • What if all of reality is just a complex simulation and my real life is just as artificial as these fake trees and castles that fill the Magic Kingdom?
5. Asking for Help at a Store. You know how sometimes you go out to buy a pair of pants? And they don't have any pants in your size? So you have to ask a clerk if they could check in the back to see if they have any 32x32 pants? Stretchy ones because you have big thighs? You know how that's their job and there are no other customers at the store, so it shouldn't be a big deal? Have you ever started freaking out because you had to do this? Well I certainly have.

6. Waiting in Line. Holy crap I can't deal with lines. I just can't. For some reason my body interprets "you need to wait while other people conduct business with the bank teller" as "YOU ARE IN EXTREME DANGER AND YOU MUST FLEE!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! No wait... you can't run... you need to deposit this cash... BUT YOU NEED TO RUN UNLESS YOU DIE HERE IN THIS LINE... but seriously this is like, $230 in cash....DEATH DANGER DEATH" It's frustrating.

7. Work. Probably nothing makes me more anxious than work and money. I constantly worry about not having enough money, not advancing fast enough in my career, not keeping up with my peers, and I'm basically convinced at all times that I will lose my job. This has actually gotten worse since I started a job I really like that pays me a decent amount of money. I constantly worry that it will just vanish- like this is all just some dream and it could all disappear any second.

8. My Favorite Superheroes Dying. True story. I once sent a panicked email to comic book/novel writer Brad Metzler begging him not to kill Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in DC Comics "Identity Crisis" storyline. I was 22 years old and after seeing some previews, I was thoroughly convinced that my 3rd favorite superhero was going to bite it. He didn't, thank the old gods and new.

10. Crowds. How did I get all the way to 10 without mentioning crowds? My personal idea of hell is Lollapalooza. Thousands of people all smooshed together in the sweltering heat while loud noises play? Nopity nopity no. In a crowd, you are both physically trapped AND mentally trapped by the theoretical judgement of the people around you. I can't deal with it. Some day, I'll write a blog about the time I forced myself to stay in a crowd while watching Weezer at RiotFest even though I think I was having a panic attack the whole time.

BONUS: Weirdly enough, there are also things that make other people anxious that don't bother me at all. Here are a few:
  • Performing or speaking in front of a crowd or group of people
  • Spiders
  • Snakes
  • Flying
  • Doing my taxes (which I find strangely relaxing)
  • Death (Mostly. Unless I'm in a line or a crowd.)
In closing, I will say this. I make light of anxiety, but it really has caused me some problems over time. I have learned how to live with it, and succeed in spite of it. Basically, I've learned that (for me) the only way to deal with anxiety is to just eliminate or avoid the source of whatever is making me anxious. Crowds make me anxious, so I don't go to parades. Talking to store clerks makes me anxious so I do most of my shopping online. Work makes me anxious so I go in, and work my ass off to make sure that there are as few things looming over my head to create potential stress as possible. I'm not sure if that's helpful to other anxiety-sufferers, but it's what works for me. I hope you found this blog entry useful, or at the very least, it made you realize that you aren't the only one who freaked the fuck out when you thought DC Comics was going to kill Kyle Rayner off back in 2004.