Your 19th Nervous Breakdown

In December I went to a conference in Washington, D.C. My flights got all screwed up because while I was in the air the Dallas-Fort Worth airport apparently disappeared, or at least was lost in fog. Shenanigans ensued. When I finally got to my hotel room, I hadn’t eaten anything but airplane pretzels in 16 hours.

I looked at the hotel restaurant and room service brochure. The kitchen closed at 11pm. The clock said it was 11:03. I went down the hall to the door that said “vending,” but the only thing behind it was an ice machine. I stumbled to the gift shop, where I could see food behind the locked door. That’s when I fell to my knees and cursed the heavens.

My hypoglycemia manifests itself via dramatic gestures.

My hypoglycemia manifests itself in dramatic gestures.

Then I remembered that major cities have all-night restaurants that will bring you food! I found one online, blessed the Founding Fathers for making America a haven for immigrants and their pizza, and sat down to wait, feeling good about life. Almost immediately, I started feeling bad about life again, which is pretty par for the course.

Was it ok that I ordered pizza in a place that has a restaurant? Would I get in trouble? Maybe I could go stand at the entrance to the hotel driveway and wait for the delivery guy there and then hide the pizza under my shirt like some kind of boxy, fragrant tumor until I got to my room.

I called my friend Chris, who has heard stupid things come out of my mouth since first grade, and explained my worries.

“Hold on,” he said. “In your mind, you’re going to walk in with pizza and the guy at the desk is going to yell, ‘Hey! You can’t eat that pizza in here! This is a pizza-free hotel!’ and then smack it out of your hand and throw you out?”

“That’s insane, Christopher,” I said. “But yes.”

It was insane. But the trouble with anxious thoughts is that they don’t seem insane while you’re fixating on them. They seem believable and unavoidable.

Things I Worry About All the Time

  1. That an extension cord will start an electrical fire and my house will burn down.
  2. That every unusual smell is a gas leak.
  3. That I will wrong someone and they’ll get revenge by killing Winston. And then I’ll come home and his head will be on a pike outside my house, Game of Thrones-style, as a warning.
  4. That my brothers will die in incidents involving quicksand or lava or possibly both. Worse, that it will be a quicksand/lava catastrophe that I inadvertently caused.
  5. That I’ve alienated the people I love. At least once in every friendship or relationship, I’ve convinced myself that I accidentally did something that made the other person never want to talk to me again. Even if we just spoke.
  6. That I’m secretly incompetent but everyone is lying to make me feel better.
  7. That my face will stick that way.
This way.

This way.

Those are just a few of the highlights. I didn’t even get into work, my love life, home improvement, finance, my personal appearance, or the inevitability of death. There is so much stuff to feel anxious about that when I don’t feel anxious, I start to worry about why that is.

It doesn’t help that I’m really impressionable, either. I never thought about arson until I read an article by someone whose house was randomly targeted. I heard about the Malawi Terror Beast once and now every bump in the night is a terror beast. And the reason my brothers aren’t allowed near quicksand or lava is not because they’ve expressed an interest in hanging out near those things, but because I had a couple of nightmares. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s how my brain works.

Sometimes when I tell people I’m worried about something, they say, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I guess they don’t realize that they’re asking someone whose hobby is figuring out the worst things that could happen.

The Worst Things That Could Happen

  1. If I make this phone call, the ring could startle the person I’m calling and give them a fatal heart attack. Now I’m a murderer.
  2. If I walk through the house with this power drill, I might trip on the carpet, compress the trigger, fall on that cat and accidentally kill him. Now I’m a cat murderer.
  3. If I take this chicken out of the oven now and eat it, I could die of salmonella.
  4. If my brother fills the lawnmower with old gasoline it could explode and kill him.
  5. If I tell my neighbor that I’m unhappy with something he’s doing, he might try to hit me and then I’d try to hit him back and then he’d get really mad and come after me with a gun but I’d escape and move somewhere else and change my name and my appearance and I’d think I was safe but someday my daughter who looks like me could be passing through here and my old neighbor would see her and murder her.
As you can see, most scenarios end in death.

As you can see, most scenarios end in death.

There are a lot of factors that affect my anxiety levels and none of them are funny, so I feel weird mentioning them here. I may have inherited it from my socially anxious grandma. It’s a side-effect of the PTSD I started exhibiting after a bad thing happened. I don’t know if you’ve noticed the obsessive list-making or not, but I have more than one obsessive-compulsive trait, too. I should see someone about all of this, but naturally that makes me want to hyperventilate.

Last month I started having some unusually frightening anxieties and I turned to WebMD in my hour of need. It asked me a few questions and then made a diagnosis. “Postpartum depression!” it said.

“Oh my god, really?!” I thought.

I don’t even have a kid.

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16 comments

  1. haru2485

    I can so relate with you! Every time I leave my house, I imagine that when I come back, it would have exploded because I left the gas on in the kitchen, or the bathroom water heater on. And this is my most logical fear.

  2. roxellamay

    No offense but your worries are so funny!! And I can’t even say “good work” on this! :-)

  3. Jane Clancy

    As a member of this tribe, let me thank you for this epiphany: “I have A People!!!”
    My brain tends to feel sorry for those who haven’t been careful enough to figure out the Wost Case Scenario. Their poor, non existent daughter might be murdered by a former neighbor. Why did they not think this through?! And I want to curse them when I haven’t gone there, and they ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?” Okaaaaay, this will be painful, but let me just answer that, in detail.
    This stuff IS funny…later. Like way later, once the lava recedes and we are not arrested for ordering pizza. And knowing others of your People are out there? Priceless.

  4. Lauren Stevens

    But REALLY- this entire post = my life. I truly thought I was the only one with the insanely irrational fear of quicksand and lava (considering I live in upstate NY…)

  5. Marissa Q.M

    This post is my life, in a nutshell. I once put a note on my bathroom mirror that said “worrying about it won’t change the outcome,” because everyone told me I worry too much, but it just made me worry about things more because what if that’s actually wrong, or what if reading that note all the time made me fail to see the potential risks and adverse consequences and that exact thing I told myself not to worry about was the thing that ended up leading predictably, inevitably, albeit ironically, to my ultimate demise?

  6. lorithenaz

    Ha haaaa. postpartum depression! I would ammend your #2 of What’s the worese that that would happen…. What If you walked through the house with a power drill, tripped on the carpet, compressed the trigger, fell on that cat and accidentally killed yourself? Now you’ve committed suicide.

  7. corporateand30plus

    Hahaha, I went through the exact same pizza ordering freak out process. I ordered a pizza at a hotel and walked outside, waving frantically at the pizza guy not to enter the main lobby. I only felt safe after I closed the door of my hotel room….as if I would get reprimanded by the hotel manager for what I dared to do. Next hotel…I arrived after 11 PM and they gave me a list of local pizza places themselves. I’m glad we sorted that one out at introductions;)
    After reading your post and now knowing I’m not the only one having these thoughts: can we just agree that if more than 1 person has to wonder whether something is a go/no go decision when it comes to food ordering: it’s an unsolved savoir vivre mystery?

  8. brokenbelladonna

    Oh babes. I know dem feels. Pretty much every one of them. My favourite is when things are going well and I can’t enjoy it because I know if I do, something bad will happen and I’ll have brought it on myself by thinking I was out of the woods.

  9. Everything.is.fine

    this made me laugh out loud on a plane. I had a very old blog, like back before blogs were cool, and I had a recurring entry, “are you weird like me?” this inspires me to bring that action back. thanks for chuckle.

  10. hollem

    As someone with anxiety I can empathize. This is hilarious but also frighteningly similar to how I think. One of my biggest fears is accidentally leaving the electric blanket plugged in when I go out, despite checking at least three times and sending a family member back ‘just to be sure’, which will result in it spontaneously igniting for some unknown reason, setting the house on fire and therefore killing my six Yorkshire terriers. Sometimes when I leave the house, I contemplate how I’m going to live with myself after killing my dogs.

  11. Pingback: Getting Better all the Time | Listful Thinking

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