Hello! How are you? I hope you’ll… tell me about it, stud(?). Just like Sandra Dee, if we change everything we are to impress a person posturing in a letterman jacket who’s likely going nowhere in life, you will 1) fly away in a car, and 2) resolve all self-doubt personally, professionally, romantically, mentally, and spiritually. That’s the extent of my message this week. Thank you, and good night.
Welp, this post has already gone off the rails.
Typically, my Wednesday posts go up at 9am sharp, so the time stamp on this here post should be a strong indicator of how my week’s goin’. I’ve committed to you and myself, though, to post on Wednesdays, and I wanna keep that commitment. Which leads me right into my point this week. I read somewhere, perhaps in So Sad Today by Melissa Broder, that the best cure for anxiety is thinking of others.
It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it, to take focus off yourself to pull yourself out of the mental meltdown taking place or threatening to take place inside of your head. It’s like when I get upset with someone, like a stranger who cuts you off in traffic or is snippy at the sinks in a public bathroom for no discernible reason (can you tell I had a v specific encounter at LaGuardia? LaGuardia is the place where souls go to die), I always try to remind myself that that person is or once was someone’s beloved baby. I also try to think about the fact that hurt people hurt people.*
ANYway, in that same vein of being on the receiving end of something negative and recalibrating my thoughts, it’s an interesting challenge to try to redirect my focus onto someone else: I wonder how my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Johnson is doing, ’cause she was so good to me when my anxiety was undiagnosed. Is my mom (a flight attendant) in the air right now? Is that UPS driver happy, and would they like one of the cold bottles of water Whole Foods keeps sending me that I didn’t ask for and I now suppose their secret plan all along has been to hydrate strangers? What might I get [person I like so much/maybe even person I don’t like so much] for their birthday? What would make them smile? So on and so forth.
While anxiety has very real physical manifestations, it either starts in your brain OR your brain perpetuates and escalates the situation into longer unrest. This is a trick worth trying, wondering about other people and possibly how you might help them or make them smile. Wouldn’t you want someone to help you or make you smile? One time I was sobbing by the East River, as New Yorkers are wont to do because, waiting for results from my neurologist, I’d convinced myself I had a brain tumor and that this was it, my nerves fried, my adrenaline dumped, and nothing left to give. My limbs had gone limp and I was melting into a park bench like a lumpy black-clothes-clad popsicle in the sun. A woman walking her dogs stopped to ask if I was okay, and I still think about her a bunch. How’s she doin’? Is she okay? I like your dogs! Thanks for checking on me! Sorry for lying to you about whether I was okay! Wish I could send you a Starbucks gift card!
Next time you’re wiggin’ and feel anxiety creeping in, try redirecting your thoughts outside of your body. It might be a crash and burn, or it could be lit, as the youths say. Won’t know til ya try it.
*Sometimes I think I need a writing wrangler. Like, someone who’s watching the words and sentences build from my fingers on the keyboard in real time and then they’re like * skrrr! * (skidding tire sound when braking) “We’ve got a, uh, 9-oh-6 violation of severe digression, please resume to your point, ma’am.” Now that I think about it, that’s what an editor does.** But, sometimes digression is kinda funny. Or, at least it’s kinda fun…ny… for me.
**I’m a freelance editor and am actually v good at it. So, I guess I exorcise all of my pent up digressions here on ye olde blog.
Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.
More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: The Gold of One’s Spirit
Mental Health: Flip Over Some Emotional Rocks, See What’s Happenin’ Underneath! (Pandemic Activity Idea)
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If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.