Saturday, November 23, 2013

I've Always Been Anxious

I have an anxiety disorder that started showing up when I was a child. Five years old, in fact, is the age that I can recall my first real worries.

Now don't misunderstand here. This is not supposed to be a post where I talk about my sad, sad childhood or something. Because I didn't have a bad childhood, all things considered. I had tons of fun, a family who loved me, and food to eat every day. Anxiety is just part of my life, and frankly, sometimes it's hilarious.

So now, back to my childhood. Five years old. Children are odd and I was certainly no exception. I wished that I was a baby and the reason was so that I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom on the toilet. I guess I thought it was too boring or tedious to take all the time away from playing and stuff. So any chance I got, I would wish to be a baby. 

Have you ever watched the old movie "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" with Don Knotts?


It's a classic. So in this movie, Don Knotts' character wishes he could be a fish because he's a dweeby misfit in real life and fish are his passion. So one day he's visiting the ocean and he's standing on a dock looking down at the fish, saying how much he wishes he could be a fish when PLOP! He falls into the water and starts doing this creepy evolution-wiggle into a fish!

Well, first Mr. Limpet is happy that he's a fish, but then he realizes that it's not actually as cool as he thought it would be and the ladies in the background music start singing, "Be careful what you wish, for wishes can come true. Be sure that every wish you make, is one that's right for you. So many people find there happiness in dreaming. Be careful what you wish for the wish that you make can come true!"

I watched this movie with my family after I had spent all of these wishes on becoming a baby. Once those ladies started singing that sad warning song, I got really worried that I was going to turn into a baby and I was going to regret it horribly.

I remember having this sick feeling of pure panic in my gut and it seemed to be on my mind for a long time afterward. Who knows how long it actually was, though.

Another vivid memory of one of my first bouts with anxiety is also from when I was five. There was a mouthwash commercial on T.V. and it said something about not swallowing the stuff. Well, I thought that it meant that I was never supposed to swallow my own saliva, so I was constantly spitting in the toilet, the trash and the sink, trying to make sure I didn't die from saliva poisoning or whatever I thought it was. Eventually my mom probably got sicked out about me spitting all the time and told me I didn't have to do that.

So here I am nearly 16 years later and I'm still anxious, but I've graduated to different useless things to be anxious about. Like all the moms shopping with their babies in Winco or an acquaintance who I can see walking down the hall at me at work.

A therapist once told me that if I lived in a time when I needed to flee or fight for my life, I would survive because I have an above-average flight response. In other words, if I were a bunny, I would probably never get eaten because I would run away all the time, even when I didn't need to. Then I would pass those super genes to my baby bunnies and all my posterity would be really speedy and never dinner. But since I'm not a bunny, I just live in my essentially safe world wasting all my excellent flight response capabilities on regular social interactions and other safe things.

Maybe I'll make this a thing and keep posting about dumb stuff I've worried about...