:: Me, trying to explain anxiety to my loving spouse after I burst into tears over a crooked lampshade.

Me: It’s not that I actually care about whether the lampshades are straight. I don’t even like those lamps. Those are hideous lamps. In fact, if those lamps were to disappear I would be happy. Why do we even HAVE them? They look like some mother-of-pearl barfed all over broken slinkies. And then the lampshades are even worse.

Him: Your mother gave us those lamps.

Me: Right now it feels to me like the entire world is flipping upside-down. You know how [this terrible thing], [that terrible thing], and [that other not-so-terrible but really big thing] are all happening at once? It feels like the world is slipping out from under me, like I’m on ice. Like I’m constantly about to fall. One wrong move, and through the ice I’ll go, and drown. I feel like that all the time right now.

When terrible things aren’t happening, the ice is still there, but I can ignore it better. Right now, I feel so out of control I can barely manage to do anything.

I can’t control any of the terrible things in our lives, so I straighten the lampshades. I can control the lampshades.

[Hesitates] Does that make sense?

Husband: I see. It’s not about the lampshades.

Me: It’s not about the lampshades. Or the pantry light being left on, or you not wiping down the kitchen counters and my papers getting stuck to maple syrup, or the back door being left open letting in bugs, or any of that. None of that matters. The rational part of my brain knows that. But anxiety disorder doesn’t care about the rational.

Anxiety disorder has me freaking out and wanting to hide under the covers.

Husband: [Squeezes my hand.] Well, it IS a national holiday, so you should do that. [Hands me the remote, closes the bedroom door behind him and takes the kids out for the afternoon.]


(c) 2017

If you enjoyed this piece, you will enjoy my book, LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: ESSAYS ON MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION, available at lifeofthemindinterrupted.com. Buying my books is a great way to support the online writing that I do for free.

Thank you.


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