Note: the following essay was posted on Dec. 23, 2012 on my Tumblr. I thought I'd repost it here because, well, content.
My favorite film of all time is P.T. Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love”, starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. In the film, Adam’s character, Barry, is asked what’s wrong with him after having a freak out moment. Barry responds, “I don’t know if there is anything wrong because I don’t know how other people are.”
This perfectly explains my feelings about myself. I’m guessing I have some sort of anxiety disorder, but I couldn’t really say for sure, because, I don’t know how other people feel.
I’ve known people that have been diagnosed with various anxiety or depression issues. I knew one girl who’s depression apparently made her a crazy, awful, ungodly bitch… but, then again, alcohol was also at play. I’ve seen a girl curl up naked in the fetal position and scream at me to get her Xanax because she was having such a bad panic attack… but, then again, alcohol was also at play. I’ve heard of a girl who has too pull over to the side of the road sometimes and breathe because the traffic is so stressful… I like to assume alcohol played no part in this one.
None of these happen to me. So what does happen, exactly?
Well, there’s a lot of nervous energy. Tapping my foot, shaking my leg, playing with my sleeves; I forget I’m doing it most of the time now. There’ s always an undercurrent of nervousness, but sometimes it gets more noticiable. My heart will throb a little more, my energy starts to feel a bit more like tiredness, and my level of selfawareness skyrockets as I realize I’m acting less and less normal. Well, you know, normal for other people. At this point this is me normal.
Sometimes, in severe cases, I start to feel nauseated, which is even worse for me as I hate vomit- I actually read detailed reviews of films to know if you’re going to see a character puke in a movie before I’ll go see it. Usually, it’s just a feeling that I can breathe away, but sometimes not. Sometimes it’s just dry heaving, sometimes not.
Few people have seen me in these moments. You can tell it’s coming because I shut everyone out; if I’m feeling sick, I probably don’t want to say a single word to you. Understandably, people don’t take kindly to this. When you park at, say, a McDonalds and tell your passenger “Hey, I’ll be right back” and then proceed to walk away from said McDonalds to the darkest, least visible area you can find, there’s a strong chance they’re going to follow you with some questions. And when all you want to do is runaway, you’ll know have someone coming after you asking, “what’s wrong? What did I do?”. And you’ll have to say, “nothing! It’s not you…I’m sorry. Just a minute.” But, they’re probably not gonna stop. It really isn’t them, but they don’t buy that and I wouldn’t either. I don’t blame them; they just want to know what’s wrong. And I don’t know.
Even if I did know something was wrong, I’m not sure how I’d go about fixing it. Everyone knows that one stoner who will talk about how wonderful weed is. But, for one, I hate the smell of weed. Two, I would never smoke weed. I don’t do any drugs and I don’t even drink.
There’s no way to say this without sounding judgmental and mean so I’ll just say it: I don’t like when my friends smoke. I can tell the difference between the sober them and the stoned them. They’re two different people, and I prefer the former ten times out of ten. When they’re high they get silly, ditzy, maybe a little annoying. I don’t want to be like that.
I just want to be myself, and I don’t know if me on any drug, illegal or prescription would still be me. Besides, in some cases, my anxiety is a good thing: The nervous energy burns calories (which would explain my 115 pound on a good day physique), it also helps wake me up in the morning, and, most of the time, my panic attacks are really just red lights telling me I’m about to do something stupid.
But, I still don’t know how other people are, so feel free to tell me.