Corny quotes about “success” are scripted into our culture. People who use them mean well, I’m sure — but I can’t help rolling my eyes a bit at these saccharine one-liners.
Buzzfeed’s “24 Comics That Capture The Frustration Of Anxiety Disorders” resonated with my panicky self. Which comic most aptly describes your own experience with anxiety or panic?
“Major Scaled”: it’s like dipping your iPod into a vat of liquid Prozac. Listen as this artist digitally converts minor-scaled songs into major-scaled songs.
As an anxiety sufferer, I try to avoid reading and watching too much news. After all, so much of it is negative. It’s like junk food for my brain: a dose of bad news will sugar-rush me into worrying sick about health care or politics or some other major societal issue that I can’t control.
I’ll spin around in a mental tizzy for an hour or so until I finally come back to the here and now.
I can’t avoid news altogether, though. Here’s why: today, a particular news story on my local TV station has me laughing harder than I have in weeks.
Just before noon a body was discovered in the Susquehanna River in the Williamsport area.
Sometimes, things are not quite what they seem, and in this case that is a good thing.
The body was discovered floating face-up in the river just below a spill-dam, an area that has seen drownings before.
Police and the coroner were on scene, fully prepared to investigate a drowning. Sue Hubbard was under that impression, she first spotted the man’s body in shallow water.
“I saw him down there all by myself, second thought was oh my gosh,” said Hubbard.
You might be questioning my sanity right now. After all, I was cracking up at this story. They found a body! In a river! And it was floating! Not to mention that the body was spotted from a running trail on which I occasionally manage to go for walks. What kind of psychopath am I, laughing hysterically at a news story about a body floating in a river?
“Offer valid online only. Offer not valid in stores,” the voucher said. “Perfect,” replied my agoraphobic side. I wouldn’t have to leave the house.
(This is the eighth post in a series called “Anxiety Society” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.)
Meet Larry Nocella: blogger and independent novelist. He sold his first article at the young age of 14 and “has been writing ever since,” he says. By day, Larry is full-time employee at marketing company and a (mostly former) sufferer of anxiety & depression. He lives, writes, and works in the greater Philadelphia area.
Just over a year ago, he “came out” on his blog as a user of antidepressant medication:
Do I tell you something I’d rather keep private? Or do I spill the ugly details?
I’ve decided to share. Why? Because of you of course. Yes, you. Reading this. You. Or maybe someone you know.
Because there is definitely a time when sharing beats silence, and that’s if you can help people. Mom was all about helping people, so while I lean toward her style of privacy, I think she’d appreciate why I’ve decided to come out.
What I’m trying to tell you is I take an anti-depressant. Were you expecting me to say something else?
Larry and I talked about his anxiety, depression, his medication use, and his optimism for the future.
Check out those sweet shades they gave me so that I wouldn’t get toothdust in my eyes. In combination with all of that dental stuff coming out of my mouth, I sort of look bionic.
Now, I’m not one to judge the severity of someone else’s anxiety level, but let me share a pet peeve of mine: I hate it when people use the phrase “panic attack” to describe a mild dilemma that clearly came nowhere close to launching them into that all-too-familiar downward spiral of shaking, tachycardia, dizziness, derealization, and air hunger.
But on a serious note, I think the concept of Penelope’s “panic-anic attack” brings up a great point: panic breeds panic.
How would you handle a “chill pill” joke? Would you be offended? Would you laugh it off? Would you pull out your bottle of Xanax and give it a little shake? Would you use it as an opportunity to teach others about your anxiety disorder?