My Anxiety Isn't 'Quirky' — It’s Exhausting


This piece was written by Elizabeth Franks, a Thought Catalog contributor

It’s a Friday night and all of your friends are over at your place eating dollar-store tortilla chips and microwaveable cheese dip when all of a sudden, Johnny throws up in the middle of the room! Come on, duuuuuuude!!

Maybe it was the marked-down cheese dip that got to him (my bad), or maybe it was the beefy burrito he scarfed down from Taco Bell on the way over… either way, the smell coming from that gigantic heap of Johnny’s stomach acid instantly makes everyone start throwing up too.

So now, it’s this huge big barf-tastrophy: a barf-ocolypse of sorts.

In other words, it’s a big disgusting heap of throw-up which continues to grow, the smell of barf making your group of friends continuously empty their stomachs onto the already cringe-worthy apartment floor.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

Well, that’s what anxiety feels like to me: a group of friends constantly throwing up in my head. Every thought, every plan, and every “what-if” compiled, constructing this huge shit-show freakout I can’t stop.

I have so much anxiety that my anxiety has anxiety. It’s like trying to maneuver through 879 tabs in a browser while also attempting to have a meaningful conversation with a friend and simultaneously trying to study for a test.

It’s chaotic. And it never stops.

People who don’t have anxiety don’t fully understand it. I’ve had people tell me, “Don’t worry about it! We will get it done tomorrow.” Or, “It’s OK! If it’s meant to work out, it will work out.”

And I just want to say right back to them, “No, it’s not OK.” And, “I will worry about it, thank you very much.”

This is just how my brain works.

I have two planners in my purse just so I can try and keep everything organized. I’m constantly making lists in the notepad on my phone in order to not forget anything. Whenever I have to participate in a group project at school, I end up taking the reins because I’m too afraid everyone else will wait until the last minute and it won’t get done.

I have to control everything or my anxiety worsens.

My mind feels “crazy” sometimes.

Sometimes these “quirks” work to my benefit, but the majority of the time this craziness doctors call anxiety is extremely debilitating.

Anxiety is a mental health disorder. Some people think that people who have anxiety can just change their mindset. They think it’s not so much a mental disorder as it is some kind of need to control everything. But that is not the case.

It plagues my mind. It makes me think of the worst-case scenario all the time. It makes me worry about anything and everything, and it frequently takes over my life. It dictates almost everything I do.

The group of friends throwing up in my brain does not stop. Ever.

Sometimes I can put a TV on in that vomit-filled apartment and drown out the noises — pretend it’s not happening for a bit — but then it returns.

I’m tired of people telling me it’s “easy” to think differently. It’s not. I’m tired of people telling me to “stop thinking negatively” and to “just let it go” and “stop trying to control everything” because I can’t.

People need to understand that anxiety is a mental health disorder, and it can’t just be turned off. It’s so common that three million people are diagnosed a year! Three million people who cannot function normally because of the thoughts in their heads. Three million people who have a barf-ocolypse occurring in their heads.

If you had a group of friends throwing up in your head constantly, I don’t think you’d want other people telling you “don’t worry” about it either.

This story was brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

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Unsplash photo via Asdrubal Luna


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