To a most basic degree, anxiety is the body's response to stress or fear. We all experience anxiety, but when anxiety manifests itself as a disorder it can be much much different. Anxiety is a feeling is when you get bees in your stomach because you have a job interview tomorrow or a presentation to give in an hour. Anxiety, as a disorder, is having those nerves all the time or a lot of the time over things that really should not cause those feelings and it is exhausting. There are many ways to treat anxiety, including different medicines, a variety of therapy, or a combination of both.
Before I begin explaining how my anxiety has impacted me personally, I do want to clarify that I take medicine and see a cognitive behavioral therapist as needed. I am in no way 100% "cured" but I am working on it day by day. Anxiety, or any other mental health issue, is not a fad, "quirk," or something to be romanticized. Now that I have said my disclaimers, let's jump into everything I overthought about this past week.
1. What to write about
Every week this happens and it is okay, I have a lot of ideas. But, it just feels like sometimes there are too many ideas that all suck, or I get nervous that by some chance a bunch of people will read one of my articles and all hate it and me for writing it.
2. Acne on my chest
Anxiety can cause multiple physiological issues, including acne. I break out on my chest when I stress and then I overthink the breakout and how that may make me look to strangers I will never see again.
3. If I eat too little or too much
Do I eat enough? Am I eating too much? I don't get hungry until 2 p.m. some days, do I secretly have an eating disorder I don't know I have because I don't know enough about what is actually considered healthy? Sometimes I forget to eat, sometimes I have to force myself to eat anything even though the thought of eating anything makes me gag.
4. If my loved ones still love me
I know this sounds crazy — I know I have no reason to question if those around me still like me but — at least once a day I have to calmly think about how it is the anxiety telling me these things. My therapist has helped me a lot with this one, even though the thought still comes to mind randomly, I can now not only acknowledge that the thought has no scientific support or evidence, but I can remind myself of all the things the people around me do because they love me. This is very helpful for me, and it might be helpful to you too if you feel this way a lot. Just remembering that if everyone secretly hated you, they wouldn't talk to you, is beneficial.
5. If my steps are too loud
I can't explain this one. I know I do not stomp around, I know walking totally silent is damn near impossible, and I know people have told me I move quietly. However, I still get nervous that I am too noisy and could annoy my housemates, especially when they are in class online.
6. If my neighbors ever judge me when I'm outside
No explanation really...I don't care what my neighbors do really, but anytime I am outside I wonder what they think about me and my housemates and I hope it's good.
7. Do my clothes actually look good on me
My clothes fit me, but do they look good? Well, they are on my body and the outfit looks good not on my body, so why would it look bad on my body if the clothes fit, Baylynn? Hmm? Oh, that's right, they do look good on you, you just don't get to view yourself from the same perspective as others.
8. Am I a good tarantula owner?
I didn't buy Jerry, I did my research to the best of my ability without knowing anything about tarantulas, I have kept Jer-bear alive for over a year now so why am I worried? Is my pet spider only surviving or am I providing an environment for her to THRIVE? *Googles how to tell if a tarantula is only surviving or thriving*
9. What do my professors think about me?
I ask questions, I answer questions, and I also stay quiet during some lectures. But, what if my questions are stupid? What if they are tired of me answering? If I am quiet, do they think I am not paying attention? If my webcam is off, do they assume I am sleeping or naked? I'm never either of those things during class.
10. How long is too long in the shower?
Is 15-20 minutes too long? Are my housemates mad that I take 15-minute showers? Do they even know how long I am in the shower? I don't know how long they shower for, but what if I take too long or use too much water?
Am I even showering correctly?
Is there any right way to shower? Why don't I even smell my body wash on myself after showering? I smell it when I open the container and wash myself, but once I rinse off where's the smell? Do others smell my body wash? People say I smell good but what is that scent? How many shower products are too many products? Do I need to exfoliate and then also use a silky body wash? How do I know I am clean when I didn't feel gross getting in?
11. Do people I don't talk to think I am weird for liking the memes they post?
Do I stop liking memes that my acquaintances share on Facebook? Is it weird that I like a post even if I don't talk to the person actively? I hope they don't think I am weird for liking a picture of their baby even though I haven't talked to them since 2014. Am I mean if I see it and don't? I am just trying to be supportive and nice.
12. Do I even know how to socialize correctly?
Does everyone think this way? Did they laugh because I am funny or because I am stupid? How do I even make friends? Did all of my friends just find me and take me in? Am I annoying the friends I do have when I send them pictures or Instagram posts?
13. What is the formal term for people who identify as non-binary similar to "ladies and gentlemen"
*Googles it* Is it just non-binary? The term "others" sounds rude. Google said something about "agenders"? That does not sound right. Some people on Facebook said to not use anything, others said to just say "non-binary friends," some say to get rid of "ladies and gentlemen" altogether. I don't want to be exclusive or offensive — forget the whole idea, there feels like there is no right answer.
14. What if I'm crazy?
What if I am just crazy? How many thoughts are too many thoughts?
15. Do other people think I am weird/rude for doing fist bumps instead of high fives?
One of the ways I found out I have anxiety is because my hands are always sweaty, even when I feel fine and apparently that's not common for everyone. (There was a lot more but that was still a part of it). But, because other people noticed my hands were slightly sweaty, I get nervous that everyone can tell so I do not enjoy high fives and will instead offer my fist to be pumped.
Is this rude? Am I weird? How sweaty are my hands? Would they even notice, it's only a high five?
16. Am I colorblind and not even know it?
My uncle is fully color blind, my mom is red/green color blind. That object definitely looks blue to me, wait everyone else said it's green? Mmmm, that does not look green to me, oh I am the only one that thinks that is blue? Did I not learn my colors correctly? Am I dumb? Do others think I am dumb because I don't seem to know my colors in college?
17. Am I a good person?
What a loaded question. How do you even know if you are a good person? I do everything that I do for others because I care for them or just to be nice but if I do it to be nice does that mean I did it for selfish reasons? And if so does that mean I am a bad person? Is this ethics? Philosophy of ethics?
18. Is my smile/laugh okay?
Back in 2013, when I first met this girl she told me that my laugh sounded "too cute to be real" and that she had never seen someone have a "real smile that looks like that." Was this a compliment? Is my laugh real? What if my body is just laughing in social situations because other people are laughing and that's the right thing to do? Should I close my mouth when I smile? Is my smile fake? Oh God Almighty, what do I look like when I'm dying of laughter? Do I just cover my mouth for the rest of my life? Oh well, Covid is a thing right now. Maybe we wear masks forever and then no one new will see my mouth in person ever again.
19. How does WiFi work?
Actually, how does anything work really? WiFi, cellphones, video games, music, record players???
20. Will my anxiety/overthinking ever stop?
Is it healthy to overthink if it doesn't cause me crippling anxiety? How do I know I am not anxious anymore? I have always been anxious for as long as I remember, how do I know I still have any emotions or feelings if I am not anxious? Do I even know anything but anxiety? Is this possible? Could they tell from a brain scan? Who do I ask about this?
If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse or mental health issues, call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.