My Anxiety means that I worry – that is to say, my mind finds things to uncontrollably worry about.
My Anxiety means some days I feel like the Sword of Damocles is dangling from a frayed thread over me, leaving me edgy and miserable.
My Anxiety means that there are days – many days – where I just want to stay home, where it’s safe, where nothing will happen.
My Anxiety means I have to go to work even on days where just stepping outside is a Hurculean struggle, because…
MY ANXIETY IS NOT CONSIDERED A DISABILITY, despite how good it is at turning me into a whimpering, flop-sweating ball of sobbing terror. Despite being a debilitating mental illness, on my bad days I have to draw on energy I don’t even have, just to fucking appear normal, just to keep my job.
And God help anyone who triggers me on those days. The only way I can cope when it gets that bad is to rely on “Fight” over “Flight” to make it through, because I’m literally fighting against my own desire to flee.
My Anxiety (And its plucky and ubiquitous companion Depression) means that I can never, ever come out of the closet and admit to having a mental illness.
My Anxiety has to stay secret, because despite how good I am at my job, no matter how much I enjoy it and the presence of my coworkers, I can never risk dropping my guard and being myself.
Coming out as someone living with a mental health issue is tantamount to career suicide; the stigmas hit and stick like shit: the Crazy, the Loony, the Unstable One, the Guy You Have to Walk on Eggshells Around.
My Anxiety, despite not being enough for me to be considered Disabled, is enough for me to be considered DERANGED and UNEMPLOYABLE.
And it’s been fairly true that whenever I am outed, My Anxiety becomes the justification to see small, trivial things I do – over the course of any day – as acting out, as a tantrum, an “episode”, or anything else to be used as a black mark against me, exposing me to hyperscrutiny and creating an uncomfortable, invisible bubble around me…inevitably leading to an unhealthy work environment and my subsequent expulsion.
My Anxiety means being judged by intimates, family, friends…the number of people who have outright abandoned me and justified it by filtering me through their own negative self-judgements is too painful for me to count.
My Anxiety means that I am judged by society; coworkers scrutinize my every movement and noise, superiors see a weakness to exploit, cops respond to any hint of mental illness with weapons drawn, and aimed at your center mass, especially in Quebec, where the police are twice as bad the Gangs, and ten times as trigger happy…especially when a so-called friend decides he’s going to “Teach You a Lesson” and call 911 to report you as suicidal and violent when you aren’t. Hi, Tom!
My Anxiety means that ilnesses often go weeks or months undiagnosed or treated, because health care “professionals” are hesitant to take my complaints seriously. For example, for over a year I’ve been suffering with anemia; for over a year I’ve told my GP I don’t handle iron pills well because of my stomach and GI issues, and for over a year he has insisted that I waste my time wasting hard-earned money trying different iron supplements, until the resulting violent gastric illness forcess me to stop, lose a day or more while going through it / recovering, and all the fucking while I have been begging him to either allow me blood transfusions or iron infusions.
My Anxiety also means that many health-care “professionals” automatically assume I’m looking for a ticket for tranquilizers, because in their mind there’s no such thing as drug dealers. And if the opposite is true, instead of just giving me a ‘scrip they put me on a dangerous antipsychotic, because better to treat the symptoms than the illness.
My Anxiety means that I fight harder and longer than almost everyone around me, every day, all day, just to appear happy…just to disguise myself as “normal.”
My Anxiety means that when I finally lose it, instead of seeing how hard and how long I’ve been holding it in, all people see…or want to see…is an angry, over-the-top outburst…me freaking out and melting down…and never any of the times that I held my cool even when other people around me were losing theirs. Because, just as comedians are often the saddest people in a joint, the Anxious are often the most level-headed, just because we’re used to dealing with OUR panic, we can handle other people’s panic.
But my Anxiety also means that those same people who turn to me for help when they need it because I can be such a cool cucumber are aghast and unable to handle when I need to turn to them for help. They either shy away, shut down, or judge me as being weak.
My Anxiety means everyone assumes they’re stronger, better than I am.
My Anxiety means that everyone feels they have the right to judge me, to tell me how to live my life, and what to do.
My Anxiety means that throughout my life, people have imposed themselves on me; my ex-wife, not knowing what Anxiety was until our daughter was diagnosed with it, would always tell me to buck up; my ex boss at Bell Canada, Marco Wilson, took it as a license to bully and intimidate me for my weakness; another former employer, VVS Films’ Bash Namrood, decided to use me as a scapegoat for his own in-over-his-head bullshit mismanagement, and he foolishly believed he intimidated me; Gilles Lavoie, of the Donaldson and James agency fired me after constantly ignoring my calls and emails about my concerns and observations about the contract he’d assigned me, and then told me to “Get some fucking help” when firing me, as if the idea of therapy never occurred to me.
My Anxiety means that supposedly lifelong friends have abandoned me without so much as a goodbye, having decided they “couldn’t handle” or “didn’t understand” or “were too busy” to talk to me.
Among these fairweather slugs were old chums who turned to me for support when their polyphyllic lifestyles and open drug and alcohol abuse saw their children taken from them by the Ontario Children’s Aid Society (And whose daughter is now a sex-worker)
Another friend I once wholeheartedly supported, even when she was accused of the international kidnapping of her child, who, when her lovers or twin sister would abandon or abuse or otherwise take advantage of her or her own mental health problems, expected my attention whenever it was convenient to her was too busy to make time for me…I guess as a sitting Member of Elizabeth May’s Tory Government, one has better things to do than be there for the little people who helped her survive countless drunken diatribes and emotional meltdowns along the way. Ever fix that bus route, love?
And, of course, a former hacker with an RCMP jacket who’s still involved with certain “grey hat” exploits while hiding behind their own business to run certainly can’t be expected to wrap his head around the non-binary problems of his oldest friend and cousin from two different, historical Quebec family clans.
My Anxiety can manifest in many ways…a “shout out” to losers who dropped me along the way, or something far more subtle; like a full-blown panic attack, or moderate indigestion; a feeling of paranoia or nausea; I’ve woken up with asthma so severe my pumps didn’t work and I wound up in hospital being told I was having a panic attack, and just saying (Between gasps for breath) “But…I…don’t…feel…anxious…just…out…of…breath…” I once had a panic attack so bad I was hospitalized with heart attack symptoms…I’d been feeling utterly fine, emotionally, and hadn’t even had much of anything on my mind…Sometimes my Anxiety manifests as a headache, or insomnia, or any number of physical symptoms without a conscious emotional correlation.
But, my Anxiety is NOT a disability; not according to any definition that applies to ME, anyway, or so I’ve been told.
Worst of all, my Anxiety means I can never relax; not because I’m always nervous, but because I’m always “ON”…I’m always presenting this other personality, this…Steve Skin, for lack of a better term…so I can fool the plebes and pod-people of society who would just point and scream if my True Self were ever exposed.
My Anxiety means I’m always exausted, because either I’m always putting on this fucking Steve Skin to wear around, or I’ve just taken it off and I can barely find the strength to move.
Worst of all is how alone I feel, because I know that all anyone paying me any mind will bother to do is stop and stare…and fucking pity me like a dying dog on the pavement, before going back to their Regularly Scheduled Day.
But hey, not like I matter.
All the best in 2018…except for those I singled out, of course. May you taste shit. All year.