We all have anxiety

15 Dec

Anxiety disorder is a serious condition. Let’s make that clear right now. It’s not a joke. Not funny in the least. Millions of people are affected by what can be a debilitating psychological disorder, one that does not have enough recognition or acceptance in our society. Two of my close friends suffer from it. Not. Funny.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I stumbled across a website devoted to anxiety this week – sent to me by a friend in the midst of a joke that isn’t worth explaining – that was worth a few laughs. I would like to share a few of those laughs with you. Does that sound acceptable?

This website, which I am sure is a valuable resource that has helped countless individuals with detection, diagnosis, treatments, et al, has a list of over 100 symptoms of anxiety disorder.

100! That is quite a lot of symptoms. Probably a few too many, one might conclude. In fact, it almost seems like this website is secretly devoted to trying to convince each and every person in the world that he or she has an anxiety disorder.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most interesting, confusing and downright ridiculous possible symptoms. (Again: not making fun of the condition. Making fun of the website. I hope I have made myself crystal clear.)

• Blanching (looking pale, loss of color in the face or skin)

I’d love to have the guts to ask one of my fellow Scandinavian Minnesotans, in the dead of winter, that I’ve noticed their recent paleness and wonder if it’s perhaps an anxiety disorder? Seems like a totally appropriate question to ask during the holidays.

• Body zaps

You mean electrocutions? If not, I have no idea if I have had a body zap or not. Some clarification would be nice.

• Choking

“Oh no, that person is choking! Sir, perhaps a Xanax or a psychiatric session would help cure this issue. Please write down the name of your primary care physician and I will place a call.”

• Usual craving for sugar and sweets

Did you just say “usual”? As far as I know, usual means normal, which is the direct opposite of a disorder. This one seems like a real stretch.

• Difficulty speaking, moving mouth, coordination problems with the mouth or tongue

How on earth can a tongue or mouth be uncoordinated? Like unknowingly smiling at a funeral? Accidently frowning after a hilarious punchline? Sticking your tongue out without knowing it? This may sound insensitive, but I would love to meet someone with this condition.

• Excess of energy, you feel you can’t relax

Hm. Interesting. But, okay, I guess I’m on board.

  • No energy, feeling lethargic, tired

Wait, you just said too much energy was bad! So, if I don’t have the perfect amount of energy throughout the day, I have an anxiety disorder? Honestly the most anxious I have ever felt is right now, reading this list. It seems to me that you are just listing everything that is slightly not normal, which doesn’t seem fair or responsible. I am now half expecting to see “reading on the internet” as another potential symptom.

  • Falling sensation, feel like you are falling or dropping even though you aren’t

I’m pretty sure if you feel like you’re falling while you are sitting in your desk chair, you’ve got something closer to vertigo, or you’re ODing on acid. Anxiety is probably the least of your worries.

  • Flu-like symptoms, general malaise, feel ill, like you are coming down with a flu

Are you sure this couldn’t be another condition? Like, perhaps…oh I don’t know…the flu?

  • Increased sex drive

Doesn’t seem like something I’d be worrying about, but okay, fine. Increased sex drive = bad. Got it. My wife won’t be happy to hear this, but I trust you.

  • Sexual uninterest

What the fuck, internet website? Which one is it? (Also, not to be nitpicky, but I don’t think that second word is an actual word.)

  • Shooting pains in the face

OH-kay, now you are just making shit up. Shooting pains in the face is ridiculous. Plus it sounds terrible. Can’t be real. I think I would have heard of this before.

  • Startle easily

This just in: 75% of people have anxiety disorder.

  • The floor feels like it is moving either down or up for no reason

If this is happening to you, you do not have anxiety disorder. You are hallucinating. You are having honest-to-god hallucinations. This is a serious, serious condition and while it is a minor miracle that you are able to do internet research, you should really seek serious help, now.

  • Tingling sensations anywhere on the body, including the hands, feet, legs, arms, head, mouth, chest, groin area

I have read that many men (not me, of course) often have a tingling sensation in their groins while researching their favorite internet pornography sites. I was told that was normal. Never mind. Shit. I’ll have to let these other men know about this.

  • Warm spells

Warm? That’s it? Warm spells. Warm. Not hot, not cold, no sweating, no shivers, no shakes. Just “warm.” This includes pretty much everyone on the face of the earth.

  • Weight loss, weight gain

Both?! Oh come on.

  • Afraid of being trapped in a place with no exits

Shouldn’t everyone be afraid of a place like this? I’ve been sitting here thinking about this for like five minutes, and I still haven’t been able to think of one place I have ever been to that could trap me without an exit. An airplane, maybe?

  • Heightened self awareness

Not a bad thing, at least not in my book.

  • Giddiness

Giddiness? Giddiness. Really. Wow.

  • Sore jaw that feels like a tooth ache

Who the fuck can’t tell the difference between a sore jaw and a toothache?

  • Feel like there is a pebble in your ear that you can’t get out

Just seems like if you are envisioning a mythical pebble stuck in your ear, you’ve got some other, beyond-anxiety-disorder issue. I’m not a doctor, though. Just my opinion.

  • Underlying anxiety, apprehension, or fear

A symptom of anxiety disorder is…anxiety? This one feels a bit like cheating.

  • Waking up in a panic attack

Finally, a symptom that actually makes sense. Forget the body zaps, the shooting face pains, the increased or perhaps decreased sex drive, the weight gain or maybe weight loss, the occasional feelings of being warm, the blanching, the choking and that pretend rock inside your ear. This one might in fact be a symptom of anxiety disorder. Glad we finally got some assistance here. Thank you very much, least discriminating internet website in the world.

(Related: the best thing you’ll ever read about anxiety disorders/panic attacks is here, from, improbably, The Onion. Pitch-perfect, not to mention hilarious.)


2 Responses to “We all have anxiety”

  1. Brad December 15, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    I do not understand why you think it is funny to make fun of anxiety disorders.

  2. Gates December 15, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Smiling at a funeral…this reminds me of the time my cousin and I started laughing at our great-grandma’s funeral because the priest said something about the Lord comforting her with this rod and staff.

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