Anxiety Over Idiots

Anyone else have anxiety about other people? Probably. That’s like a huge part of it, right? And I’m probably not special in how mine seems to reach so much further than seems normal, but in standard anxiety form I *feel* like I am special because anxiety *chose* me. #swoon

Anyway, I just wanted to talk about this teensy little thing that causes my heart rate to go 30 miles over the limit: other people and their problems. I know, it says it right there, it’s their problem. I know this but my anxious side is like, “Ok BUT, what if it IS your problem? PLUS, you have all the answers, so it seems a little selfish to not share them with those who need it most???” And that makes sense to me.

I talked to my therapist about it and read a self-help book about it and both said to focus on myself and my problems and not those of others. It will be uncomfortable, but let it be. It will get easier. (And then eventually I’ll know how to set boundaries?! Incredible.) This all sounds logical too.

BUT THEN. Then some idiot is acting so dumb I’m just sitting here fidgeting and ready to pounce like, “Oh you need my unsolicited advice????? HERE IT IS!” They do need it, but they don’t want it. I’m right, I mean of course I am, but they aren’t ready for my profound wisdom. They will even look me in the eye and act like they are listening and then go right back to acting like a jackass. And I know that people can’t help it. They need to make mistakes and changes all in their own time. They have to want it. I have read all the books and inspirational quotes, I KNOW THIS. That doesn’t make it any easier for me to sit by and let them act like feral meat sacks.

I’ll sometimes notice how much progress I’ve made in focusing on myself and prioritizing my mental health and think, “Ya. This was the right decision. People are idiots and I should just let them be idiots and stay out of it.” And I swear it’s like the person knows. “Oh my god, she hasn’t tried to help me in a while! I need to do something drastic to get her attention.” And they will. And then I have to hear about it and try to still keep my mouth shut. Sometimes it’s a physical effort. I have to put my phone down and literally work off the urge in the gym or something. I have to clench my jaw so tight it needs a chiropractor to put it back in place. (These are actual things that have happened to me.)

This is why people talk shit about each other I swear lol. “Oh, so-and-so is being a real so-and-so but I can’t say anything because they don’t fkn listen so I’m going to vent.” I SWEAR this is how gossip came to be; idiots causing people with all the answers to have to resort to talking behind said idiots’ backs because…they’re idiots. Is that harsh? It might be but it’s also smart. It’s kind of better for everyone if instead of giving advice to people who clearly aren’t trying to change you just tell someone else the whole situation and then forget about it immediately. The idiots don’t have to pretend to listen and probably get resentful for getting advice they didn’t ask for and the rest of us geniuses get to keep our mentals slightly healthier.

Alas. I hope you enjoyed my little rant about idiots. If not, I can’t say that I’m too sad about it because venting about it here helped me which is what I’m really all about.

Gloria Pritchett of Modern Family


Introverts + Anxiety

One might argue they go hand in hand. (I am at least one.)

Hello and welcome to the latest in A Series of Anxious Events! Have you ever found yourself wondering why your introverted and/or anxious friends cancel plans to “just stay in”? Are You An Extrovert? Then it makes sense why you are baffled. Follow along for Five Tips on How to be More Reflective, Self-aware, and Comfortable Being Alone! And Also Quieter.

  1. Get a pet. You’re never truly alone when you have to take care of an animal’s food and bathroom needs. This allows you to enjoy being alone while not truly being alone because if you absolutely have to talk you can just say it to Fido.
    Already have a pet? You should be at home more anyway.
  2. Get more self-awareness…a designated trait of introverts. (Seriously. Google it.) Do you want to know why? Because they’re at home with their plants, book, and Netflix accounts. All of these make you smarter. Well, two do for sure. I imagine with Netflix it depends what you’re watching. Getting a little bored? Switch from your comfort shows (100th run through of The Office, Schitt’s Creek, Parks & Rec, Dexter) and turn on something that’s sure to make you stop missing people in no time! Real Housewives, Bachelor/Bachelorette, the latest serial-killer documentary.
  3. Make a nice hot bath with candles and your favorite relaxation oils and a good book and then stare blankly at the page while you reflect on all the times you embarrassed yourself in public. That time you were blackout drunk. That time that waiter said, “Enjoy your meal” and you replied, “Thanks, you too.” That time you went to your home town grocery store for ONE THING and of course that’s the time you ran into your high school ex and you’re in pajamas with no makeup. That time you saw someone waving at you and you waved back only to realize they were waving at the person behind you. This type of thing doesn’t happen to introverts. Because we stay at home.
  4. See how long you can be home in complete silence. Read instead of tv. Bath or nap instead of yardwork. Workout instead of texting. Write a story or journal entry instead of dishes. (Do them before they get stinky though.) And then turn on the loudest radio station at the loudest volume and stand next to it. You will immediately appreciate the silence. Do this the opposite way: all noise, no silence and then shut EVERYTHING off at once. You will immediately appreciate the silence. This will help calibrate your “go out and socialize meter” to a much lower level.
  5. Train yourself to love the peopleless spaces. Pick a place to go. Party, family get together, restaurant with friends. Now think about this for *at least* the entire full 24 preceding hours: what if they were all talking about you before you got there? What if they only invited you because they felt bad? What if none of them actually like you? What if they cancel and then all go without you? Okay, this one might be introvert drenched in anxiety but still. Not feeling so social (and loud and pushy) now, are you?

Thanks for reading along – the world could use more introvert converts! And remember: This is satire. But also: Introverts really do want you to stop writing articles like “Introverted? How to Stop Being a Lonely Loner Stoner and Get Crazy!” or, “Want to Learn How to Be More Fun! Read This and Stop Being an Introvert Today!” And this is satire.

The meme that inspired this article.

Anxiety About Current Events

News stories affect my anxiety differently. I want to read them to stay informed and to know how to help in situations that require it. However, it does ramp up all the feelings of my insides shaking and the combination of fury and nervousness that all is lost. Or, furvousness. I make myself keep reading them because being ignorant of what is happening around me, while good for my overall stress levels, isn’t an option. I need to know what’s happening. I need to help. I need to spread the word and urge others to help. Even if your “following” is small, everyone knows someone who they can reach out to. Talking to people causes me anxiety in general so in times of national crises (see: Supreme Court Overturns Roe v Wade) it’s like someone inserted an air pump to my anxiety valve and pumped it up to almost bursting. I don’t know what to do. I have no fucking clue. But I do know some ways to try and help. And since this news just came out a couple of hours ago obviously my nervous system is in overdrive. Rather than breakdown (I’ll give it a couple hours) I decided to do what I do: I made a list.

Here’s some small ways you can help. Feel free to comment links/other ways to get involved below.

  1. Get a therapist. I know: WHAT? Trust me. You’re gonna be stressed and your brain is going to be overworked and the feelings of helplessness might fade but they aren’t going anywhere. Talk it out, get it off your chest, and keep going. I used Better Help – this is not an ad, just a great place to find a therapist who aligns with your values and can help you.
  2. Subscribe to people who are doing this work at a professional level and GIVING YOU THE ANSWER on how to help. Providing history, updates, petitions to sign, + tons of other info. Join their patreon if you can. Here’s a few that I use that are truly amazing sources:
    A) Anti-Racism Daily Basically real time news and ways to help.
    B) America Hates Us I follow on Instagram but you can subscribe to their patreon as well for even more content.
    C) The Progressivists Again I follow on IG – they provide a ton of news, resources, petition links, actions.
  3. Donate to Planned Parenthood. More importantly, donate to your *local* abortion clinics as well as to funds that help people that need to travel to get one if they happen to live in one of those states that think they need their hands in people’s uteruses.
  4. Reach out to get people to vote. There’s a lot of ways to do this – helping canvass, call and text banks, volunteer to drive people to voting booths or ballot drop-offs. Social stuff makes me uncomfortable so I’ve been using Postcards to Voters. Fill out postcards to voters in key elections and send ’em off. Super easy.
  5. Keep learning and sharing your knowledge. Read books, share the books, buy new books, share those books. Is a book banned? I personally recommend grabbing a copy. Find used ones on PangoBooks. (My personal one is MyFavoriteBookAffair…I add important books to the shop as often as I can get my hands on them.)
  6. Take a break to help yourself. This is a rough time so do a little more than you think you can but also take breaks and be nice to yourself.

Trying to remind myself to breathe but I’m having a hard time calming down today after the news this week. The overturning of Roe v Wade was just the cherry on top of a wholly shitty week courtesy of our very own Supreme Court of the United States. Check out my other article here on how to calm down your anxiety.

When You Choose Anxiety

Not in the realistic sense, obviously. More so in the “I know this will make my anxiety go up a few notches but I’m going to do it anyway” way. This is just within the last few weeks. Things I’ve done that I should (read: did) know better than to do.

And yet:

1) I brought a new puppy home. Riff is less than pleased. He’s more along the lines of “you traitorous beehive, how could you do this to me, I’m dying and nothing will ever be okay again”. It’s been extremely stressful and so tense in the house but I mean. Look at our new Margot Doggie’s face! How could we NOT bring her home?

2) I decided to rent a car on my recent trip to Ireland. (Of which I am currently waiting in the airport to return home from.) You know, where they drive on the left side of the road? I’ve had multiple panic attacks and did more driving than I ever do at home, but I did it! At the expense of 90% of my nerves being fried and scaring the s%#t out of my parents for a week, I DID IT. I’m worried for Colorado drivers when I get back.

3) I started wearing makeup again after 10+ years of maybe occasionally wearing only mascara 1-3x/year. So now I play a fun game called “Is this makeup acne, period acne, mask acne, or just my skin being my skin acne?” I have gotten the answer right 0% of the time and continue to be mystified and stressed daily about it. Do I stop and ruin the progress of getting my skin used to makeup to where I can eventually wear it with no acne? Do I stop and my skin clears up immediately? Do I continue and I just don’t have skin that will ever just be cool? Will my skin ever be clear again or have I ruined the algorithm of my face?

4) I’ve spent time scrolling social media and news sites after the the SCOTUS “leak” about overturning Roe v Wade. Everything is infuriating and I am furious and these posts fire me right back up every time I’ve calmed down to what is just the high simmer that is my baseline now. Just writing this one is making my insides shake with rage.

5) I requested way too many books on NetGalley thinking I’d only get approved for like 25% of them and instead got approved for ~70% and now I’m on a time crunch to get books read and reviews submitted. I KNEW not to do that. But what did I do? I did it.

And finally, 6) I started this post 30 minutes before boarding my plane and I know it’s super readable and engaging and it seems like I can do all of this really quickly, and I can, but it takes a lot of work and nerves to get it edited and ready to go before they shout “airplane mode” over the intercom and I need to sign off. I know I seem super with it but that is actually, and very much so, not the case.

Happy anxiety! I mean, Saturday!

Pets & Anxiety

A fun one that is basically me choosing anxiety. I love my pups. More than anything. But WOW do they cause me some mental (and occasionally financial) issues.

My good girl Berlyn took on my bitchy personality traits where she doesn’t want anything to do with anyone except for a select few chosen ones. (Sometimes I’m even one of her chosen!) She wants to play fetch and, very rarely and on her specific and weird terms only, she will play with her brother. When she is done playing, instead of just being done playing she picks a fight and storms off in a huff. She’s…ridiculous.

My buddy and Berlyn’s brother, Riff, is my sweet ball of anxious energy incarnate. He. Is. Wild. He is typical whippet running up the walls (seriously, YouTube it). He is also typical napping greyhound after the energy is spent in 30 seconds. He is laser focused on food until – SQUIRREL! And then he obsesses about that squirrel until he gets his toys. He moves on to fetch. For the rest of the day. Non-stop. I mean, try it. Try and stop him. He will kick the toy and chase it for himself. He’s also super territorial about me and HATES it when I leave the house. (I get it – I also hate it when I leave the house.)

Between the two of these dogs and their temper tantrums and my constant worry that something might happen to them, there is a certain level of anxiety that never goes away as long as I have pets. If I could clear every other aspect of my life, I would still have this base level of afdjhudnvdf because I have these dogs. I love them and will never get rid of them and I’m not saying Bad Vegan lady was right, I’m just saying if you promise immortality for my dogs: I’m listening.

All of this drama and awareness of how I live with dogs and constant anxiety just to say: it’s a lot. So I got a puppy. Obviously.

Fav Anxiety Symptoms

I (very) recently started experiencing a new symptom. That made me think about alllll the symptoms and how they’re all so different that it’s weird anxiety was ever able to be diagnosed in the first place. So, obviously, I decided to share my fav symptoms ending with the newest one. And though it should be clear, I will still note that when I say “fav” I do not mean that I actually like or enjoy any of these symptoms. They all suck and anxiety is a monster but laughter helps.

  1. The Sahara-Arctic Pickle. About half of the time I can tell when I’m getting a panic attack because I get super hot for no reason. I’m not in the sun, not working out, usually just sitting there and boom: SWEATING. I can sometimes cut it off if I can get cold enough quick enough. This is weird for someone who is always too cold because I usually have a sweater on year round and then all of the sudden my head is in the freezer. Literally. I stick my head and as much of my body as can maneuver into the cramped space of the nearest freezer to try and get real cold real fast. If it works then I don’t get panic attack! If it doesn’t work then I get the attack…and then I get all regular sweaty…and then I shiver for an hour. Because I was in a freezer.
  2. Footsie. And no, not the flirty kind. Although, I guess if someone shares a café table and I end up kicking them because I can’t keep still then they could take it that way? Usually they just think I’m kicking them to get more space though. Which, not wrong. I don’t need anyone near me that I didn’t specifically consent to being near me. But I’m also not kicking them on purpose, you know? I just can’t control my legs. And if I do, it eventually ends up in my hands. Fingers tap, tap, tap; pens click, click, click.
  3. Accordion Spine. I guess another form of a panic attack? Not entirely sure. What I do know, as a person who has only ever seen an accordion in movies and never in real life, is that it feels like my spine is being pressed from the top down and the base up like an accordion closing. One of the most unpleasant feelings on the planet and the really fun part? It sometimes lasts *hours*. Imagine that Itchy and Scratchy show from The Simpsons: Itchy takes out the spine of Scratchy, turns it horizontal. He presses it from each end inward. He makes the most godawful music straight from Scratchy’s back.
    Speaking of Itchy…
  4. Itch City. In the most recent of developments in my presenting anxiety, I have been itchy AF. At first I thought it was an allergic reaction. After ruling that out I was just confused until my mom was like, “probably anxiety, it shows up weird sometimes.” So from the soles of feet to my neck I have been scratching like I have fleas. (I don’t. No bed bugs either.) Luckily (?) my new anxiety meds are also used as an antihistamine. However, if I take said meds I can expect to be passing out soon. And when I wake up it looks like I got attacked by Freddie Kreuger when his blades are dull.

So, aside from all the constant shaking and tapping and inability to sit totally still I’d say these are my most fun symptoms. People could play roulette on me leaving the house and win big money. It won’t be all of the things every time, but it will be one of the things most times. I want to wonder what other weird symptoms are out there but I steer clear of pondering on that too much so I don’t end up accidentally manifesting it for myself.

Anxious Thoughts About Things That Don’t Concern Me

Sometimes I get really buzzy anxiety that makes my heart race and my legs restless and suddenly I need to walk/sprint 5 miles but also I’m paralyzed by indecision and I can’t??? It’s really stupid and obviously *I KNOW* it’s stupid and I shouldn’t be concerned but my body is on a different playing field. So while my brain is like, “Calm down, this 1) doesn’t make sense and 2) isn’t something that’s ever happened, my body is like, “You fool. It doesn’t matter if it’s never happened – think about this: WHAT IF IT DID?” And then my brain is like, “You’re absolutely right! I will now freak out with you.”
So here’s another list. This time of things that cause me a higher amount of anxiety than they should, especially considering they aren’t really based in reality.

  1. The medical field and cavemen.
    Sometimes when I get a headache (or similar) and medicine is temporarily unavailable I think to myself, “This is probably good practice. They didn’t have it in cavemen times and they were fine.” And then from there I think the spiral is obvious. We’re not cavepeople now, sure, but if another meteor strikes? Or even if just one of those many apocalypse scenarios happens? Suddenly most of mankind is dead and do you really think it’s going to be all doctors that survive? No. You’re gonna have to fight to get a doctor on your squad. What if another squad can offer your doctor more food than you and they switch? Then you have to find a new squad and that’s only if they let you leave alive! You never know. Humans are stupid and we could end up without meds again.
  2. Killer Hide’n’Seek.
    When I go into new buildings/houses I like (read: need) to figure out where I could hide in the inevitable case a killer/the government/a purge crew shows up to either take me or kill me. It can’t be an obvious one though, like sure I could fit in the cabinet under the sink but so could many people. I need to find the half sized cabinet for storing lids only, or under a bed that has a cardboard cutout that looks like the wall but is really hiding a lot of stuff shoved under the bed to get behind. Somewhere they wouldn’t automatically think to look. Maybe I can fit through a ceiling tile? Behind an awkward shelf? Not finding a spot is not where the anxiety kicks in though, it’s how much time I spend on this imaginary scenario. Then I start going through enemies in my head and ranking who’s most likely to show up. I start imagining what I must have done to make them come after me. I think about if there are any other people in the house: will I need to forego the hiding and defend my pride, or are they people I’d be okay with leaving as a little buffer between me and whatever entity is coming for me? This is all nonsense, I KNOW THAT. But this is a since-childhood thing and old habits, ya know?
  3. Imagination school.
    Every so often I will think something in the opposite direction of my current career trajectory sounds cool. So I’ll lightly check into what it entails. What certifications, deadlines, salary, PTO policy etc. I could expect. And then I will get overwhelmed and I’ll close all my browser tabs and give up. And from there, all my research meets me in bed – and not in the sexy way. It’s there like, “Hey you know you have a deadline coming up to apply to go back to school, right?” Or, “Girl, you know you’re not going to pass that certification exam if you’re not studying, right?” Studying what?! I don’t have to make any actual step in the direction of changing something in my life, I just have to kind of think about it and my body hits me up, “LOL you absolute idiot. You really thought you could imagine a different life with no consequences?”
  4. Singers and actors.
    You ever hear a song on the radio that just hits you? Or watch a movie and the actress just moves you? It gets a little tiny hook in your heart and just shifts your worldview to the point where you start thinking about what if you made that song/movie? You’d be so famous right now and you’d be the one who made someone feel like you’re feeling? Basically, if you’d been born as said singer/actress your world would be vastly different? Yeah, me neither.
  5. Alternate timelines and infinite potential outcomes.
    And, finally. Once in a while, I will start thinking about past, abandoned projects. And I’ll think about how amazing they would have been if I’d finished. Writing a book, art projects, training for a 5K, learning a new language, getting the guts to try out for some sort of acting gig. My anxiety ramps up thinking about all the things I could have done if I lived in the reality where I completed them and not in this current reality where I didn’t (yes, like in Men in Black). This causes a little panic-sesh of starting new projects (like this blog…we’ll see how long it lasts) and then I quit those too.

I’ll stop here because I’m, I mean this is, getting to be a bit much, right? I will now go have anxiety about both not making this longer and making it at all.

The Cure for Anxiety!

Just kidding.

But these things will help! As a professional anxiety-haver, I’ve been working pretty hard on getting it under control. So aside from the obvious (Xanax, alcohol, excessive sleep) these are some things I’ve found that help me. If they don’t help you then…don’t do them, I guess? I bet you’ll like at least one of these suggestions though 😉

  1. Puzzles. I prefer crossword but word search, sudoku, actual physical puzzles, are all great too. Gives you something to focus on which helps to calm your system down. Personally, I feel like I’m buzzing when I have anxiety so that feeling goes away. Or at least simmers at a low hum instead.
  2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation for the lazy person (hi, it’s me). You can probably find a more detailed version anywhere online. Here, you get the easy version. I start by flexing my toes and move up. Flex toes, count slowly to ten. Flex feet, count slowly to ten. Calves to ten. Quads to ten. Butt to ten. Abs to ten. Hands, arms (biceps), chest, shoulders. At the end it’s like you’ve taken a nice long cat stretch and your whole body feels more peaceful. Obviously there are way more muscles than listed here but my version works for panic attacks as well so there’s that little benefit too since it’s the “quick” (lazy) version.
  3. Exercise. Kickboxing if you’re frustrated too or yoga or barre for more flowy, stretchy moves to help your body relax. Plus, endorphins. And you know what Elle Woods says about endorphins!
  4. Water. I like to look at pics of it. I’ll just google “water” and look at ocean pics. This could probably work for pictures of anything you find soothing though. Puppies. Various forms of potatoes.
  5. Binge that show. Schitt’s Creek. The Office or Parks and Rec. The Walking Dead or Dexter. Science-y people say to watch something you’ve already seen because you already know it so it’s soothing. I agree but also disagree. Sometimes a new true crime doc helps too.
  6. Read. Takes your mind out of reality for a bit which I find helps me reset.
  7. Therapy/counseling. Talking to someone who can help you work through your problems/anxieties can help so much. Tools (like this list) come out of it. Your behavior changes in a healthy way as you focus on yourself and your mental health. Insurance companies should really include mental healthcare but as they don’t places like Therapy Den can help (not an ad, I just find them helpful) and you can always Google around and call different counselors to see if they can work with your budget.
  8. Pet a dog. I don’t feel inclined to provide further explanation here.

Soooo, thanks for reading along in my serious of anxious events. Hopefully one of these will work for you and if not or even if so but you ALSO happen to know of others, drop it in the comments to share!

A (non-comprehensive) List of Things I Don’t Finish…

…due to anxiety.

  1. Beverages. Usually hot, idk why. Because what if I drink it too fast and I want more? So then the coffee gets cold and I reheat which is never as good and then I don’t finish it again. Usually like 5 reheats and it’s still half full at the end of the day.
  2. Decorating. Because what if I don’t like it afterward? It will have been a waste of time (lol, who cares?) and/or money.
  3. Books. Because if it’s good and I finish then its over and then what? I could read it again but I won’t so instead I do neither.
  4. Series. I know the others were good so will it live up to the hype?! Will it be a huge let down? A waste of time??! Will I be too sad when it’s over? Examples: Twilight (books, not the movies), Zoo (the show, not the books)
  5. Hobbies. Because what if I don’t get better? What if I get TOO GOOD?
  6. Making plans. Because what if I don’t want to go later because, you guessed, anxiety! So then I pretend I’m spontaneous which is also…not great for anxiety….
  7. Writing blogs/articles/a book…I mean, what if it’s just bad? So I’m making myself write one which brings me to…
  8. This list. Because I’m sure anyone can tell by the groundbreaking content here that there has to be at least 50 more.