Anxiety: the Brain Bully

A lot of my friends are writers or other creative type people.  By being a creative person and hanging out with similar folks, I have learned that with creativity comes mental illness.  I’m sure not ALL creative types are mentally ill, but I have yet to meet one who does not suffer from some sort of disorder. Seriously, I have never heard of a perfectly normal and well-adjusted writer, artist, photographer, or whatever.  We all have SOMETHING that makes us a little different.  Most of my friends have depression.  I feel for them as I have had depression twice in my life, once after my son was born, and then while going through my divorce. I actually thought about killing myself during my divorce.  So, I get the whole “depression lies” thing because it does.  It tells you that you are worthless and that you should die.  It’s a horrible thing.

I don’t have depression now, though.  Nope.  I have it’s twisted cousin – anxiety.  Anxiety lies, too, but more than that, it bullies. Anxiety pounds you with horror movie thoughts like that mean 4th grader used to throw erasers at your head during quiet reading time.  Anxiety doesn’t give you a moment of peace, even when you’re sleeping.  It wakes you up to torment you.  Here is a recent midnight chat I had with anxiety.

Me: [sound asleep and dreaming about kittens]


Me: [Sitting up in bed] What?

Anxiety: HOW can you sleep at a time like this?

Me: Why shouldn’t I sleep?

Anxiety: Your son isn’t home.

Me: I know. He went out with his friends.  He’s 18.

Anxiety: He could be dead.

Me: He’s not dead.  Wait? IS he dead?

Anxiety: He could be.  What if one of his friends murdered him?

Me: His friends are nice. They wouldn’t kill him.

Anxiety: You don’t know that.  Marty killed Bobby.  They were best friends.

Me: Marty is a psychopath.  My son’s friends are not psychopaths.

Anxiety: How do you KNOW that? You don’t know.  Plus, he could be dead even if he wasn’t murdered.

Me: [listening to my heart race] Huh?

Anxiety: Maybe he was in an accident. Maybe he’s trapped in his car at the bottom of a lake.

Me: No. There’s not much water around here.  He’s a good driver.

Anxiety: It COULD happen.  Anyone could be trapped in a car underwater.  It could happen to you, your son, your husband, your mother.  Anyone.

Me: [having trouble breathing normally]

Anxiety: You need to save everyone! You need to get everyone you know one of those things that can break car windows underwater.  EVERYONE.  Go on Amazon right now and order a case of them.  You also have to get something so everyone can attach the window breaker to their belt loops.  Other wise, the damn tool could be floating around in the car and no one will be able to reach it and they will still die.

Me: Oh no!  I hate water. Why do we have it? It will kill us all.

At this point, I give up and reach for my iPad.  My husband continues to snooze next to me while I sign in to Amazon, magnifying the tiny iPad screen to accommodate my old people eyes.  I search for the glass breaking tool and then Google “escaping a car underwater” 5,897 times.  After reading several articles, spending too much money, and even watching some videos that make my palms sweat, I tire myself enough to go back to sleep about eighteen minutes before the alarm goes off.

So, what about you? Do you have anxiety? Does it bully you in the middle of the night?




15 thoughts on “Anxiety: the Brain Bully

  1. I sympathize, Lisa. I have a son so I know well the feeling of worry you describe. I’ve had depression and anxiety all my life. I also suffer from social anxiety. Strangely, it often seems as if the darkest people have the best sense of humor. I LOVED Petty Thoughts! It helps so much to know there are others out there like ourselves. I am also a writer, atheist, crazy cat lady and I like to drink tea with my feet up:-)

    1. Linda, it is like we are related. I like to drink everything with my feet up. I think we dark people use humor as a coping mechanism. If we took everything seriously, we would have made ourselves nooses long ago. Hugs!

  2. It’s not funny I know but something similar happened to me last night. Hub and I share a house with my daughter, her hub and their 3 kids. Hub and I have an inlaw suite.

    So the kids bedroom is above mine. The youngest boy has mild cerebral palsy and refuses to sleep alone. Daughter puts him in his own bed every night but ends up joining him so he will stay in bed. Last night I couldn’t sleep. As I was laying there trying to shut off the brain, I heard him get up and walk out of his room. Trouble was I DIDN’T hear my daughter get up to go to him. Immediately, I started imaging all kinds of things. Like OMG he’s gonna try and come downstairs and fall cos his balance isn’t good. Then; OMG did they lock the front door with the top deadbolt? Cos he can open the bottom. Last year a 3 year old froze to death in a nearby city cos he got out in the middle of the night. Finally I went upstairs, not in the livingvroom, deadbolt on, I went to his room, no little dude, checked the bathroom, nope. Finally I eased open my daughters bedroom door and woke her in a panic only for her to tell me he was in bed with them.

    I had her bring him down to sleep with me and that worked. I finally drifted off cuddled up to him at 1130, only to have to get up at 430 so I can go to the gym before work. Sigh

    Anxiety makes me tired!

    1. That would have stressed me out, too. I am a very protective mom. I can only imagine how I will be as a grandma.

      And good for you for getting up to go to the gym!

  3. Oh, yes girlfriend – I have this happen to me quite a bit! I don’t recall the last time I got a full night of sleep – instead I usually wake up about four hours in and my mind is racing like crazy. Some nights, if I’m lucky, I can meditate and it lulls me back to sleep after a bit. Other nights, I say fxxx it and just get up and try to be productive. I’ve also started worrying more during the day – for instance, I’ll leave the house and then I can’t remember if I shut the garage door – so I’ll have to circle the block and check. I had to buy a special flat iron for my hair that has an automatic shut off after an hour – because I don’t know how many times I freaked out wondering if I unplugged it or not. I seriously worry (just another thing to worry about) that I’m becoming someone with OCD. Is it an age thing? Not just the forgetting – but the worrying??

    1. I wonder if it is an age thing, Jana. I thought it was a work from home thing. Since I don’t leave the house much, I worry what happens when people do leave the house??? Maybe??? Who knows. Either way, it sucks.

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