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Anxiety Is the 'Mean Girl' Who Lives in My Head

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There’s a mean girl living inside my head.

She’s always there, whispering horribly mean things into my ear. Some days she’s quite loud and insistent… Difficult, if not impossible, to ignore — saying things like:

You’re such a terrible friend.

Why do you always bug people with your problems?

No one cares! They are just being nice so you’ll go away and leave them alone.

You think you’re sooooo special. You’re not.

You’re boring.

You should stop this idea of making videos. No one will watch them and your best friend has better things to do.

Grow up! Why can’t you act like an adult should act?

No wonder you don’t have any guys interested in you…

Remember that one time years ago you were super drunk and you did something super stupid? Nice going, dummy.

Other days, she’s quiet. But she’s still there… Waiting in the wings.

Those are the days that feel “weird.” Just a little bit paranoid and off kilter. Like everyone around me is just waiting for me to screw something up or thinks I’m strange.

If I remember to take my medication and I go to therapy regularly, the “quiet” days will outnumber the “loud” days. I feel happy, full of energy, “normal.”

Slowly the “quiet” days have started outnumbering the other days.

The “loud” days are the days I have to fight the hardest. They are the days I secretly cry in a stall at work, stare blankly at my computer screen while rereading the same email for an hour and a half and wonder what I’m going to screw up on that day.

This mean girl is very insistent that I pay attention to her and only her. She knows me so well, after all, because she’s right there in my head.

All the time.

She makes it hard to even write this, telling me I’m a horrible writer and that no one is going to want to listen to me whine about my “problems,”

That mean girl I am talking about is Anxiety.

Anxiety has led me to become an amazing actress, especially on the days when she’s screaming in my ear how much I suck and that I should just give up… But I’m at work and I cannot cry in the bathroom all day, nor can I go home. Giving up is not and cannot be an option for me.

So I learned a trick from my best friend. I cosplay myself, putting on the face I want people to see when they look at me. It is so very hard, but I put on a smile, and I talk to co-workers and colleagues. I laugh, I enjoy jokes and do the best I can at work… On the inside, I am fighting the urge to run and hide, walk out the door and go home to fall asleep in my dark bedroom.

Sometimes I’m so good at it I can almost fool myself.

And that mean girl, Miss Anxiety, is always waiting for me. Always with a comment, always with her own special insight to my daily life. And I cannot always predict when she’s going to do it.

Will it be while I’m waiting to get a haircut? You betcha. How about answering a routine email at work? Terrifying. Making dinner? I have all this great food in my fridge that will rot before I cook it on a bad day or week. Fun adventures with my best friend? What if I accidentally tick her off? What if I am just being a giant pain in the butt to her…

And you can bet that mean girl, Miss Anxiety, will be waiting in the wings during each and every one of those moments.

But there is hope. I know the more I recognize this mean girl for who and what she is, the better things can become. I’m still learning how to clamp down on what triggers anxiety for me. Trying to figure out how to quiet that mean girl down so I can do the things I love and enjoy life without having to worry about this, that and the other 10,000 plus things my brain will cook up.

I still overthink. I still bite the skin around my fingernails. I still bite my fingernails, for that matter. I still let my apartment get so messy I don’t think I’ll ever get it clean, and then I still hide from the mess in my office…

But… I also try to remember to take my medicine. I remind myself I am so lucky to have a best friend who understands and cares. I tell myself mean girl Miss Anxiety is a serious jerk and that she is wrong. I tell myself my friends and family do care and don’t think I’m weird. That my co-workers are nice people. That I do not suck. That I am fun. That every time I label myself “weird” or “awkward,” I’m actually misspelling “awesome” or “amazing” because weird and awkward are OK and part of who I am.

And with each positive thought, that mean girl’s voice gets a tiny bit quieter and a little less insistent. She will rebound, sometimes returning with a vengeance, but I know each time I face her down, I get a little bit stronger, better equipped to handle the nasty comments and feelings she throws at me.

And that feels truly awesome.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via nadia_bormotova.

Originally published: July 20, 2017
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