I keep thinking about a stand-up routine Michael Che performed. He talks about depression, calling it “the most privileged disease you could ever have” because it “implies that your life is good enough that you shouldn’t be sad.”
That line made me think about my anxiety, about how I feel like I don’t have any right to complain about my problems. They’re laughably small. They sound ridiculous when I say them out loud. I don’t want to send a text (to a friend who loves me). I don’t want to socialize (at a party that’s bound to be fun). I don’t want to leave the house (and drive to a job I’m lucky to have).
In the grand scheme of things, I’m lucky my problems are that simple. I’m lucky there’s nothing worse going on right now.
I feel like a spoiled brat, because even when everything in my world is going well, I still find reasons to complain. My anxiety makes even the best days seem difficult. My anxiety makes me wonder whether happiness is something I’m capable of experiencing for more than a moment or two.
I’ve been through tough times in the past. I know how bad things can get. While they’re still good, while there is no ‘real’ stress in my life, I would like to enjoy myself. I would like to sit back and appreciate the calm before another storm hits. But my anxiety doesn’t let that happen.
I keep freaking out over the smallest things, things that shouldn’t even bother me, things that are meaningless in the long run. People always say, “If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it.” In theory, that’s great advice. In practice, it’s impossible.
I can’t control how long my brain focuses on a particular issue. I can’t predict how long I will spend spiraling. Supposedly, “You cannot control other people. You can only control your reaction to them,” but that’s not true for me either. I can’t control my reactions, my emotions, my thoughts. My anxiety is in control of those things.
No one seems to understand that, though. Most people will look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them how anxious I’m feeling. They will say but *this great thing* just happened to you as if it’s impossible for me to be upset about one area of my life when another area is going well.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I don’t want to seem heartless. I don’t want to seem like a spoiled brat. I understand there isn’t any logical reason for me to complain about my world right now — but I still find reasons for my heart to race, for my palms to sweat, for my stomach to clench. I still find reasons to bring myself to tears even when life is going well.
My anxiety doesn’t give me a chance to enjoy my good moments. It just keeps reminding me something worse could be around the corner.