Anxiety feels fucking embarrassing.

Be nice to your anxious people.

Anxiety and I have a long and storied relationship. And most of the time, she’s a real dick.

Many, many years of therapy has worked wonders. I can recognize my triggers. I can step back and detach a bit when the anxiety is mounting and see it for what it is, objectively understand what is happening, and at least have the situational awareness to shift into “Hey, there’s my brain being a complete fucking asshole again”. That’s light years away from the years I used to just get swallowed up in the tempest of a panic attack and have no idea what the fuck was happening to me.

Anxiety Amber is fragile. She’s convinced most of the people who purport to love her actually don’t and are about to bounce out the door at any minute, wiping their brow and going “what the fuck were we thinking being around that one?”. She’s easily overwhelmed, drowning in fear and the looming scariness of impending disaster that is also largely imaginary. It’s like she has one of those giant easel pads, systematically drawing in big bold black marker all of the Awful Things That Are About To Happen and Things You Have Not Yet Dealt With in pictures and flipping through them for me, slowly, agonizingly, making sure I study each one in crippling detail through my fingers as I hold my hands over my face and desperately shake my head no, no, no I can’t handle that.

The smallest things feel insurmountable, the largest ones are terrifyingly suffocating, stealing breath and resolve at once and leaving behind an emotional after taste of defeat in advance of the battle even starting.

It sucks.

But I’m not the first nor last to live with this fuckwad of a mental roommate. Many words have been written about living with these sorts of psychological parasites and so I’m not sure I’ll do them justice anyway. (I tried, once upon a time, to use the TedX stage to share if you’re interested…but I'm still not sure it captured it well).

You know what’s also fucking irritating? The thing we don’t talk much about. The embarrassment and shame that comes after the anxiety episode when the storm has passed and you look at the emotionally windblown debris around you just want to disappear, mortified.

See, I can look back at my anxious days from the other side and watch the rational thoughts get swept away in the torrent of fear and uncertainty. I can practically see the chaotic irrational doppelgänger of myself wreaking total havoc, taunting me with the fiction of failure and impending abandonment. I can see it. And yet I can’t stop it.

Yes, my intellectual self knows that it’s some malfunctioning synapses and neural pathways. But my emotional self—the battered and traumatized parts that are the breeding ground for the anxieties—doesn’t have her hands on the controls enough to pull the brakes. So we have to ride it out together.

In the aftermath, I feel like I want to apologize. To myself, for not having more agency over these moments enough to prevent them from happening. To others for the times when I ramble or worry or lash out or get needy or cry for no apparent fucking reason or don’t know how to do any of the above so I withdraw. I want to say I’m sorry for the things I didn’t say aloud, for the moments when my doubt blackened my trust and belief in others.

The shame is real, and it’s very fucking lonely. I inevitably spend a day or two just completely discombobulated, sheepish, feeling the clouds lifting but not quite knowing how to be “normal” just yet and looking around to see if anyone is looking at me with that mix of pity and judgment and disdain. That’s kind of where I am now.

Anxiety Amber was really fucking present last week, putting her feet up on all the furniture and helping herself to all of my energy stores and while I’m glad she’s gone for the time being, she sure left bruises and a mess like she always does.

I hate her for the hurts. I love her for existing in the first place, because she helped me survive a lot of shit. I want to reassure and take care of her. She’s part of me. Took me a long time to say that with compassion and mean it. But she is.

Anyway, there’s no profound conclusion to this. I’m fine. I always find a way to be fucking fine. I’m writing this, which means the fog is lifting.

But if you have anxiety people in your life, be fucking nice, okay? Know that they often feel like the most burdensome, difficult, useless people in the world when their anxiety alter-egos show up to play. They might like a hug and they’d for sure like to know that you think they’re pretty awesome even if their brain is sometimes a raging fucking bunghole.

And if you are one of my fellow worry warriors, I see you and you’ve got nothing to be fucking ashamed of, okay? We don’t. Every time we turn and face the hurricane and manage to keep our feet is a pretty fucking okay day.

Fuck Yes Friday

Today, I present to you simply one of the greatest tweets I have ever seen. And don’t deprive yourself of the replies and comments. They’re the fudge on the sundae.

Happy Friday, friends. It’s a pretty fucking okay day. I’ll see you next week.

With love and angst and a side of stale anxiety,

Amber