Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Anxiety and Overreaction

As I've communicated several times in this blog already, I do not take kindly to people who try to tell me how to feel - especially if they're telling me that I'm overreacting. I've explained the various reasons why it's a shit thing to do, but there's yet another one, and it involves anxiety disorders.

The fact is that I do overreact. Not about sexism or racism or other forms of bigotry and injustice. I will continue to push the idea that most people underreact to that stuff. I overreact to things that really are no big deal.

Last night, I was kept up with an anxiety attack over the fact that after this week, I'm going to have to start looking for a job. I'm giving myself two months to look. I have enough money to survive comfortably for two months, paying all the bills and so forth. I've always been able to find a job within a month, and even if I'm having trouble, I can always jump on those jobs that will take just about anyone. And even if that doesn't work out somehow, I have family I can stay with if I somehow lose the apartment.

Yet I still had an anxiety attack over the knowledge that I have to find a job in two months.

That's what an anxiety disorder is. It's not being nervous over little things, it's having a physiological overreaction to little things that includes a pounding heart, racing thoughts, increased breathing rate, paresthsia, and a serious inability to sleep when this shit happens. And that's just an anxiety attack. Other people have panic attacks regularly which are so intense it makes them feel like they're about to die. Our bodies literally react to small concerns as though we're in danger of dying. We can't help it. It's out of our control. It's an illness - a dysfunction of the brain.

So when you shame people for "overreacting," you're being an ableist asshole who makes it a lot harder to exist in the world with an anxiety disorder. I really don't need to feel pathetic in addition to feeling intense anxiety. I don't need to feel like a loser while I'm lying awake all night wondering if I'll ever sleep again. That is the least helpful thing ever.

There's so much shame attached to the idea of "overreacting." People are constantly using that word to put others down in an attempt to save face. There are a lot of assholes who go around acting like "overreacting" to something is the worst thing you can do. Some of them (all men) make a living trying to provoke people into a response and then laugh at them for any negative reaction, calling them "too sensitive."

And that really sucks, because shame aggravates anxiety like nothing else. Shame is such a powerful and destructive force. It tears people down. Really. It's not to be used lightly.

Please don't make my anxiety worse by telling me I shouldn't have it when I can't control it. That's messed up. That's the kind of behavior people should be ashamed of.


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