By Kimi Pike
As one of the 40 million Americans diagnosed with some sort of anxiety disorder, I read a lot of articles about anxiety, i.e. how to manage it, sources of anxiety, and other peoples’ experiences with their disorders. I understand that anxiety affects people of all ages and backgrounds in different ways. But one particular viewpoint I’d like to address is the personification I’ve heard many people make of anxiety: as a dysfunctional, romantic relationship.
My anxiety disorder came about when I was a college sophomore dealing with familial separations, bad relationships, and a plethora of other transitions I thought I would be more adept at handling. I’ve always been an I got this kind of girl—so much so in fact, that I tended to push away anyone who tried to help me along in my pursuit of independence and all-around [perceived] “badassery”. (Growing older makes you realize it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. And having an anxiety disorder really makes you realize your poor life choices.) From mild panic attacks, to rapid heartbeats, tears and fainting, my anxiety disorder was never something I chose to take on. My anxiety disorder wasn’t a relationship I pursued at any point in time, and I reject the romantic notions implied with that association.
My anxiety disorder is not my crutch. It is not my cry for sympathy or help. It is not my false sense of security. It is NOT my bad boyfriend.
You see, a bad boyfriend was once a good boyfriend, or seemingly good boyfriend. A bad boyfriend is someone you had to have fallen for at some point despite the warning signs; someone you wanted and fought for in such a way that you didn’t see the bad. A bad boyfriend can woo you, entice you, and guilt you into staying—and heck, even make you breakfast in bed!
But anxiety disorders are different. It’s like loud knocks at your front door and aggressive shouts for you to hurry up or else—but you have no idea what or else means. Anxiety disorders are pounding fists against walls and frustrated tears demanding answers but providing no questions. Anxiety disorders are like bullies that torture you and leave you asking why me? But often there is no rhyme or reason. It’s just that at one point in time, your body decided to handle your stress this way because you weren’t handling it appropriately, healthily, or even at all.
So now you have this thing. This mess. This reaction to situations outside of your control. It’s something you learn to manage and even live with, but let’s face it: you can’t pack anxiety’s bags and stick it in a cab, no matter how much you want to be like Beyoncé in “Irreplaceable.” Life is not a music video. Anxiety is not a bad boyfriend. It’s empty threats that create a panic, but leave very little to show for itself.
So please don’t think for a second that I fell in love with the idea of having an anxiety disorder and now refuse to get rid of it. Anxiety didn’t sweet talk me over a fancy dinner then leave me high and dry. But my anxiety disorder does exist and it is here. And if I could throw its clothes out the window and change the locks, you best believe I would. I’ll continue to learn how to deal with my disorder; but I am not going to romanticize its presence in my life.
Kimi Pike is an early childhood educator living in Phoenix, AZ with her three pet chickens, Miss Patty, Babette and Gypsy. While currently working in a low-income area teaching 1st and 2nd grade ELL, she is working towards opening her own childcare center. She believes in the power of quality early learning to create a healthier, more loving world. You can support Kimi’s vision by following this link: https://www.gofundme.com/