If you’ve ever wondered what goes through the mind of someone with anxiety, Pinkie Pie says it best when she is talking with Fluttershy about singing in front of people. No matter how simple the task may seem to some people, for someone with anxiety or depression, these simple tasks can make or break our day. Here is a short list of a few things that most people can do without hesitation, but could cause someone with anxiety or depression to have a meltdown.
Calling someone / answering the phone
I’m a horrible procrastinator when it comes to calling people. In fact, I’ll try every other means of communication first before I will even attempt it. It doesn’t matter if the person I’m calling is a good friend or someone I enjoy talking to. I hate being on the phone. I’ve learned how to tactfully ask people to text, or shoot me a message via social media instead. When it comes to work, I ask for an email response instead of saying, “I have social anxiety, leave me alone via phone.” I tell them that I have to keep a written correspondence of everything I do.
Going into a business with sales people
Have you ever pulled into a car dealership, or a furniture store, and counted how many seconds it took for a salesman to reach you? Yeah…. Can you say, panic-attack-waiting-to-happen? It doesn’t matter how bad I need to go into a business and get something; if I see I will be the only one for the person behind the counter or the salesman to pay attention to, I’ll walk on past and scout for someone else to walk in with me.
Birthdays (especially our own)
It might sound strange to some people, but one thing that I hate is being sang to on my birthday. Many a birthdays I was left in tears because of the anxiety that being sang to caused. A few times I was even made to feel bad about asking people to not sing to me (that one never made sense to me). To get around missing out on the free dessert at restaurants, I’ve learned to casually say it’s my birthday and also mention that the signing embarrasses me. The server usually brings out the free dessert anyway (and some put a candle in it) so I can make a wish that doesn’t involve hiding under a rock.
Girl’s Night Out
I enjoy having time with my friends, but when there is more than two of them, my night usually ends up in tears. It’s not that I don’t have fun, but that my mind likes to play tricks on me and makes me feel like a fourth wheel.
Answering the door to unexpected guests
Anytime someone comes over and I’m not expecting them, I make a mad dash to my room and let my husband handle whoever it is. If I don’t like them, I stay in my room and listen to music. If I’m unsure about them, I sit by my door and listen to their conversation with my husband. If I feel like it’s safe to come out of hiding, I’ll make my way slowly into the living room and clean up to keep my mind busy. If it’s someone who we may see again, my husband lets them know about my social anxiety issues and that makes me feel less like a freak if and when they see me again.
Doing something we are afraid to do
I’m a Network Administrator and that role comes with some pretty big responsibilities including replacing hardware in our servers, checking/maintaining our backups, looking into issues we are experiencing on the network, restarting various equipment, and more. It can be a pretty stressful job when something breaks. Something that may seem simple to other Network Admins can cause me significant trouble. It’s not that I don’t know how to do my job, but sometimes the fear of screwing it up, overwhelms me to the point that I feel like I can’t do my job. Thankfully, I have someone who works with me and knows how to remind me that I know what I’m doing, otherwise I wouldn’t have a job.
Watching Movies / Reading Books
I’m a spoiler reader, not because I want to know everything about something, but because my brain can’t handle not knowing. For instance, I saw a movie as a kid that had a very sad ending. It ripped my heart out to see a character that I had become so attached to for the first 60 minutes ended up dying, and at his best friend’s hand no less (RIP Old Yeller).
Most people would cry it out and get over it by the time the end credits roll. Me? Nope. I was sad for days. After that experience, I’ve always asked a few key questions before watching any movie or reading a book:
Does anyone die and if so, who?
Does it have a happy ending?
Are there any cliffhangers? (This is a big one.)
This one really sucks because I love shows like Arrow and The Flash, but can’t watch them until the entire season is available on Blu-ray—and even then I can’t watch the season finales until the following season comes out.
Attending concerts, theme parks, or anywhere else there might be a crowd
Concerts, theme parks, the mall, and other generally crowded places are fun… unless you have anxiety; then they can be a nightmare. Generally, I prepare myself mentally for crowded areas, but if things get crowded while I’m there, it’s a whole different ball game. It can be downright torture to be in a theme park where there is no way to escape the crowds. Places like Walt Disney World may be seen as the happiest-place-on-earth for some, but for those who have anxiety, it can be the scariest place on earth.
Unless you live with anxiety or depression, you will never understand how these simple tasks can make or break our day. Something as simple as answering the door to a stranger, or calling someone, can set us in a frenzy. It’s taken 10 years of marriage for my husband to fully understand why I can’t be in the room when he is watching his favorite shows or why sitting through a movie with no spoilers beforehand can destroy me for days.
What matters though, is that the people around us care enough to understand it’s nothing we can control and don’t judge us for our quirks.