10 Ridiculously Simple Things I Can’t Seem To Do Because Anxiety

Some people (read: people not living in my version of reality) like to say that there’s usually a method to be found in the madness. If there is a method or a shred of reason to my anxiety, I have yet to find it.

And trust me, I’ve looked.

The truth is, my anxiety is the equivalent of an infant screaming and throwing things in my head all day long.

No logic. Just really disconcerting noise.

One thing about my anxiety that I have yet to understand is why, for the love of all that is good, that I can’t seem to do really simple things without panicking.

The logical part of my brain says, “This is easy. It’ll only take a minute.” But the anxious part of my brain starts making a racket until it’s so loud that I just avoid the thing altogether.

Maybe you can relate?

I don’t know whether to laugh about it or cry. Today, I’m choosing the former. Here are 10 of the most ridiculously simple things that my anxiety does not, under any circumstances, want me to do:

 

1. Wish my friends a happy birthday on Facebook.

I have 400+ Facebook friends. And it seems like every single day, at least three people have a birthday.

Facebook likes to remind me of this fact with a notification informing me. Sometimes the notification goes straight to my phone, as if to say, “Hey, asshole. Your friends are having birthdays today, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, CHUMP?”

Nothing. I’m going to do nothing, Facebook. Because if I wish one friend a happy birthday, I have to wish all of them a happy birthday. If I wish all of them a happy birthday today, what about tomorrow? The next day?

This is a commitment of over four hundred well wishes.

Maybe it’s just me, but I honestly can’t handle this kind of pressure.

And don’t even remind me about when it’s MY birthday. Do you want to guess what I did when I received all those “happy birthday” posts on my wall?

Yes, exactly. I did nothing.

 

2. Go to an ATM and withdraw money.

I have withdrawn money from an ATM once in my entire life. I am a 24-year-old adult and the idea of going to a machine to withdraw money stresses me out. Why? I don’t know.

First, I have to find said machine, which means going out in public (which I hate), potentially taking public transit (which I also hate), and handling finances (again, hatred). Then I have to figure out what kinds of fees are involved.

Why would I involve myself in this headache when I can just use my debit card for literally everything?

I always know who my best friends are because they never ask me, “Hey Sam, do you have any cash on you?”

No, I don’t. And I never will.

 

3. Cook anything that requires something more than a microwave.

If you’re detecting a theme here, it’s because there is a theme. The theme is, “Why do something that involves multiple steps when I can do something that involves one step or, better yet, no steps?”

If there is any evidence of intelligent design, it’s microwavable meals. I know that a higher power was thinking of me when said power created this convenience.

What’s the alternative? Cook something?

To be clear: You want me to set aside at least an hour of my time in which I could just be watching Gossip Girl, to look up a recipe that fits my dietary restrictions, purchase multiple ingredients from a store, assemble said ingredients correctly, make a huge mess in my kitchen to clean later, and for what?

A home-cooked meal?

This sounds very romantic (and, duh, delicious). But try telling my anxiety that. Because all my anxiety seems to understand is that this involves too many steps and therefore should be avoided at all costs.

Until you’ve had a full-blown panic attack over your (need I say it, failed) attempt at making a stir fry (YES, A FUCKING STIR FRY), do not judge me for my frozen meals.

 

4. Build or in any way assemble something with multiple parts.

Yesterday, I watched my roommate and my partner assemble a bed frame. I’m pretty sure the bed frame came from IKEA. While these angels were hard at work, I sat on the couch eating Pringles, praying that no one would ask me to help.

If my anxiety could understand English, I think its least favorite phrase would be, “Assembly Required.” I do not like things that I have to put together, especially things that are easy to fuck up. I do not like reading instructions, even when said instructions are just pictures.

No, I think I will just sit in the corner and pretend to look thoughtfully at the instructions, pass you the hammer when you need it, or fake an injury when we’re carrying the damn thing up the stairs.

The sight of an unassembled project scattered all over my bedroom floor is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. I do not know why. If there were any logic to this, I would share it with you.

And before you say it, save your breath: All of the empty platitudes about “eating an elephant one bite at a time” or about “the first step being the hardest” mean nothing to me.

When I see unassembled furniture, I see a nightmare coming alive. I see hours of hitting my head on the wall, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing.

And I see the worst case scenario in which I put the wrong screw in the wrong hole and suddenly I’m on the phone with IKEA, trying to get replacement parts and crying about how this all could have been avoided if I’d just never tried.

And yes, I see the IKEA representative hanging up the phone, turning to his coworker, and saying, “You won’t believe this, but I was just on the phone with a customer who was crying because he couldn’t assemble his bed frame.”

They laugh. They laugh at my suffering.

 

5. Schedule appointments over the phone.

This really only takes like, five minutes tops. But when I picture myself going through it, it sounds like the worst five minutes of my life.

 

6. Ride a bicycle.

I don’t care if there are bike lanes. I don’t care if I’m wearing a suit of armor that protects me against injury. I don’t even care if cars disappeared altogether.

I need my feet on the ground. I will ride a scooter or hop on some roller blades but do not even suggest that I ride a bike someplace. It’s not happening.

I live in a pretty eco-friendly city so it’s not uncommon for someone to suggest that we bike together. And you would think, based on the looks I get, that I didn’t say “I don’t ride a bicycle” but instead said something like, “My third arm is actually made of pasta and it is growing out of the base of my spine.”

Before you ask, yes, I actually know how to ride a bike. I used to enjoy it. You know, when there were training wheels and sidewalks and elaborate suburbs where cars seldom appeared and my Dad was ten feet away to carry me back home if I hit a sprinkler and toppled over (thanks, Dad).

The physics of a bicycle alone – the idea of balancing on two wheels and not crashing into the ground somehow – is a kind of demon’s magic that I cannot comprehend.

So I pretend it doesn’t exist. And I don’t ride bikes.

 

7. Look at a map to determine how to get somewhere.

I will ask my phone, thanks. No, I do not want to look at a map. I do not want to learn street names. I don’t even want to know what direction I’m traveling in. I just want this robot voice to tell me when and where to turn.

And if my phone dies, guess what? I’m not going anywhere.

 

8. Figure out what size pants I wear.

File this under “I don’t know why the hell this is stressful, but I’m going to avoid it for as long as possible, even if that results in owning two pairs of pants for the indefinite future.”

 

9. Clean my bathroom. Or, wait, clean anything.

You know what’s even more stressful than a messy room? An even messier room. And you know what happens to a mess you avoid cleaning because it stresses you out? Yeah, a bigger mess.

“But wait,” you might be asking. “How does anything get cleaned, then?”

In my house, we are all (involuntarily) a part of this fun competition to see whose anxiety is the least debilitating.

It happens to be a competition I almost never win.

 

10. Deal with insects or household “pests.”

Is there a spider in the kitchen? I guess I’m not going in the kitchen ever again.

Are there ants in our room? Cool, I’ll be sleeping at someone else’s house.

Did you see a cockroach in the bathroom? Great, I will now require someone to accompany me to the bathroom and I will make loud screeching noises the whole time I pee in an attempt to scare them into hiding.

I am not exaggerating.

The only silver lining here is that I’ve found, at least with spiders, that if I name the insects in an attempt to humanize them, they become slightly more tolerable. I once named a spider I found in the bathroom Matt and we were actually able to coexist for a couple weeks.

Until Matt appeared near my bedroom. And then all bets were off. Because we can chill in the bathroom, but when you get close to where I sleep, that shit becomes personal.

What other ridiculously simple stuff is anxiety preventing you from doing? Tell me in the comments. #AnxietySolidarity #LaughingSoWeDontCry #SomebodyHelpMe

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32 thoughts on “10 Ridiculously Simple Things I Can’t Seem To Do Because Anxiety

  1. MelisLov says:

    Texting first, texting at all is a big, ridiculous challenge for me! There’s no explanation but it interferes with simple things like texting to make plans. I freak out and ask a bunch of silly questions like, was I too aggressive? Too forward? Too “communicative”? I realize nobody else is thinking or spending that much energy evaluating my simple text. I build it up, wait a few hours, draft, and then rewrite and reread literally 160 characters until I just convince myself not to text/write/comment/engage at all or impulse takes over and I send it and panic and reread the sent text until they reply. Yep – exhausting.

    Also #8 is very real for me too! :p

    Liked by 2 people

  2. JaySprout (@JaySprout) says:

    I can’t use a phone at all – a bad experience has made this significantly worse over the past few years, now I can’t even be in a room with someone using a phone without it causing problems: namely increased anxiety, lowered functioning that day, and flapping (I’m Autistic).

    I can’t reply to people on Facebook – even just being notified that someone has ‘liked’ my comment is too much, I can’t bring myself to return to a thread (same issues with other sites). Sometimes this is a good thing as saves reading white cis mens insults, but sometimes this is a terrible thing as it means little social interaction and inability to form friendships.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Mxtrmeike13 says:

    Recently, I came to the realization that reading the news (e.g. Google News or Flipboard) is something I cannot do. I love reading the news, it’s probably my least nerdy pastime. But they have articles about spiders, the one thing I have a phobia of, and there guess that hobby. >=[ And I refuse to look up any sort of animal in Google image search, because you’d be surprised how often those eight-legged monstrosities crop up for absolutely no reason at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bobcabkings says:

    How about deciding whethr or not to respond to FB friend requests from people (or, perhaps in some cases Bots?) whose pages show no common interests, activities, or friends in common? Will they be offended? Are they real? Are they trolls, or con artists, or just desperately lonely? usually I don’t respond and the request just sits there, occasionally reminding me. Its not screaming toddler level anxiety, but it’s there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says:

    Crowds. A couple days ago I found myself at a famous observatory and booked a spot for a guided tour of the stars that evening. I NEVER go anywhere if there are likely to be other people around, so, what was I thinking?!?! It was going to be just me and the astronomer???

    Noooo, there were busloads of shouting, milling undergrads. I bailed out before the event even started, ran back to my van, ate two Ativan, hugged my dog for a while, then had another panic attack because I thought I was lost in the dark driving back to my campsite. No cell signal. What an idiot, I forgot that I can’t even go to a movie anymore, because the place is crawling with-ugh-PEOPLE!

    And about spiders…I explain to them that I totally appreciate what they do for me, in terms of eating other unpleasant bugs…but they must stay out of my sight. If I see them….QUICK, HARRY! THE FLIT!

    Roaches? Boric acid or diatomaceous earth. Gets rid of them, and pronto. Hate fucking roaches. I feel offended by them. Who the fuck gave them permission to invade my space?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. thedreamer01 says:

    SO MUCH YES! Being an extremely logic-loving person, I have made many attempts to explain my anxiety in a logical way. So far, the most logical thing I’ve come up with is, “Anxiety doesn’t give a SHIT about logic.” 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Dre M Harris says:

    One I had in college was opening doors to go into rooms with “lots” of people in them. Read that as “rolling into my classes when I was late” (I use a wheelchair to get around). I was terrified of that thing where I make noise and EVERYONE turns around to stare at the idiot who’s late to class, to the point where I would just not go to class if I was late.

    I still can’t handle being blindfolded. I have literally left a party because of peer pressure to play pin the tail on the donkey.

    Going to sit at a table where people I know are sitting. Like when you were in grade school and you were afraid to try to sit with the cool kids. And I’m 38.

    One I’m really ashamed of is that certain people’s voices make me anxious to the point where I have to plug my ears or otherwise distract myself when they talk. Sometimes it’s not their voices but what they’re saying. It’s not annoying, it actually makes me anxious. Unfortunately some of these people I’m required to attend a weekly meeting with.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Raney Simmon says:

    I would definitely have to say a couple of the ones on your list I can relate to. Mostly the cooking one because whenever I try cooking it always ends up a disaster (for instance, the past couple times I’ve tried making eggs sunny side up, at least one, if not both of my egg yolks break while still in the pan), But I can also relate to making phone calls too. Especially if it’s someone I don’t know calling me about something, even if it’s something important, like loan payments or job interviews. I’ll listen to the message but end up too anxious to respond or call back. Just calling people I don’t know makes me extremely anxious.

    I also get anxious when put in certain situations. Sometimes in these situations, something will go horribly wrong and I’ll end up overreacting to it by either being really freaked out or just cry because I’m so stressed and anxious about it. I try the best I can to not react in either of these ways, but it never works.

    I’m also anxious about cars too. I don’t have a drivers license and have no interest in getting one and every time my Mom or sister ask me if I want to learn how to drive, I’m just like “no.” Just the thought of driving, especially with how crazy people can get on the road, fills me with a lot of anxiety and I just don’t want to deal with it.

    And just being out in public. Or the thought of being in public, dealing with people. Once I’m out and about, I’m normally fine. But the thought of being around people I don’t know just makes me anxious.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cheyanne says:

    I’m cracking up about the Facebook birthday wishes! I’m the same. I’m trying to be better this year so today, realizing it was the 8th, I found a charming old picture with a friend of mine and wished her THE HAPPIEST OF BIRTHDAYS. It was a fairly gushy post and I included a link to a song that always reminds me of her. Aaaaaaand then I realized it’s February and not April. I left it up (with another comment “Ooops, I’m 2 months early! It’s not April LOLLLLLL oh well, still love you!”

    That was 12 hours ago. Not a single person has liked or commented but it gets more and more (AND MORE) awkward to delete it as the day goes on. So.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rachael Stephen (@mythicflux) says:

    Also, folks who also have trouble making appointments on the phone:

    I put off making appointments for SO LONG and it’s literally the worst, because you know you need to do it, because yknow, doctors. And anxiety/mental illness, whatever else might be going on for you healthwise… probably not just going to disappear on its own!
    BUT I have gotten a bunch better with this particular one recently and I think it’s actually because I got myself an organiser.
    I know, it sounds bizarre, but I think other than just speaking to someone I don’t know, the main fear about making appointments was that I would forget something I was doing and double book, or they would ask me for info I didn’t have. I found having my planner in front of me, with my calendar and most details they might ask me about has done WONDERS for helping me make necessary phone calls even though I hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pax Ahimsa Gethen says:

    I can relate to a number of these, especially telephone anxiety. I will go to great lengths to avoid talking on the telephone, and am fortunate that my doctor’s office has a web interface for appointments. Some months I have zero voice minutes used on my cell phone. I actually ended one relationship partly because my boyfriend could not understand or respect my strong aversion to talking on the telephone. Some people assume this is a generational thing, but I’m 46 years old; I grew up in a time when e-mail and texting were not available. Now that they are, I strongly prefer those methods of communication when I’m not with someone in person.

    For Facebook, I removed my birthday from public display this year so I wouldn’t get happy birthday messages from anyone who I wasn’t actually close friends with, some of whom I never heard from otherwise. Facebook doesn’t care about real friendship, they just want people to spend more time on their site so they see more ads. I know that doesn’t help your anxiety, just putting it in perspective.

    As far as cleaning, I can wash dishes, but the clutter in my home is out of control, and it’s not for lack of time to deal with it. I just get a crushing, horrible feeling when I look at the piles of junk in my home office, many of which trigger stressful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. vjearle says:

    Ha ha, I so get the FB birthday thing – thought it was just me – spend way to much time agonizing over whether I should or shouldn’t.
    Reading through your examples, I projected elements of anxiety, rebellion, non-conformist tendencies – key point – projected. Made me wonder, how much of what I don’t do is some weird need to make a statement – oh no, now I’m passive/aggressive. Gee thanks, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hart says:

    Getting an art locker at college for my ridiculously large and heavy toolbox that I would otherwise have to shlep onto and off the crowded evening train. I knew I needed a locker, and exactly where to get it, but I couldn’t do it because I would need to speak with another human being. I put it off for several weeks until I decided the anxiety about carrying and potentially losing my toolbox on the train was worse than the five minutes it would take to get a locker.

    I only wish my fear of driving on the highway was as easily remedied. I’m at about four years, maybe more, of not driving on the highway. And riding in a car on the highway is a highly traumatic experience for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ideaphilosopher says:

    “Nothing. I’m going to do nothing, Facebook.” Yes! Those birthdays get overwhelming! At first, I tried keeping up with it. Until my Dad, who has thousands of friends and received hundreds of simple “happy birthdays”, called me to say “how come you wish other people a happy birthday on FB but not me?”. For the record, I actually called him for fucks sake. So, that became way too much maintenance.
    My second one would be dealing with any kind of insurance. Health insurance, car insurance, you name it. It’s so overwhelming that I just avoid it at all costs.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Alyce Cheshire says:

    Does leaving the house count? I’ve been unemployed since September (fortunately I can afford to be) and I get so positively stir crazy in the house, but I HATE leaving. The only time I’ll voluntarily drive anywhere is to the gym, which is my home away from home. I can get all sweaty and stinky and pump iron in front of strangers, but I’m terrified of looking them in the eye or talking to them. I’ve lived in this city for a year now, and I’ve yet to make any friends outside of those in relation to my boyfriend (who I beg to drive me virtually everywhere and anywhere)

    Outside of that, I’d say making phone calls (if there isn’t online ordering, I’m not getting pizza), answering the phone/door, speaking up when I need something at a restaurant, and basically anything that involves social interaction…

    Generalized/Social Anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, PTSD, and OCD here. The struggle is real…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. jlo05 says:

    From 5 years old, then into my early 20’s, I would be incredibly nervous picking up a phone to call anyone. I fretted over how to ask someone for information or scheduling something with a friend or a business.

    I got over this with practice. I started writing questions and possible answers and follow up questions on a pad of paper. Every so often I still do this to keep my mind focused but many times I forget to do this and I’m fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. goblinbox says:

    I have no idea how I got here, but this post in praise of, essentially, laziness, due to anxiety, makes me mad bro, because the only way to fight anxiety is to DO THINGS ANYWAY, EVEN THOUGH YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO, BECAUSE OTHERWISE THAT MOTHERFUCKER WILL MORPH INTO FULL-ON AGORAPHOBIA, THEREBY TAKING YOUR ENTIRE LIFE AWAY FROM YOU, AND FUCK THAT SHIT, SERIOUSLY. Extolling the virtues of TV-watching and microwave meals over leaving the house and cooking decent food is essentially saying that you choose anxiety over activity because you’re Just That Lazy.

    And as someone who suffers from panic and anxiety myself and has done for the past, what — fifteen? twenty years? — I mostly just want to shake you until you retroactively suffer crib death because I know it sucks, man, but you CAN’T NOT DO THINGS or not only will you never get anywhere in terms of mastering the condition itself or your quality of life BUT you won’t have anything to review on your death bed, which will be soon if all you eat is crap pre-prepared frozen food. Now I love being lazy, do not get me wrong, but laziness is not a virtue, no, not at all, although aspects of your post were totally wry and funny.

    All that said, TOTALLY with you on scheduling appointments over the phone. Screw that noise.

    Sorry for the utterly random drive-by commenting; as I said, I don’t even know how this tab got opened, really.

    Like

  18. jerbearinsantafe says:

    I relate to many of yor activities you avoid because of anxiety. For me talking on the phone is very anxiety inducing. I prefer texting or using Facebook Messenger. Going out at all is anxiety inducing for me and that increased after accepting my gender identity and changing my wardrobe and appearance. I actually had a really traumatic exchange with a friend from my youth where she used fear mongering to desuade me from my gender identity. I tried not to let it affect me but it did. Being Trans/NonBinary/Agender and having anxiety is not easy. Thanks for confronting your anxiety and sharing your thoughts.

    Like

  19. sophiaphilo (@croutonography) says:

    I’ve abandoned my facebook account, I think I last logged on ~2 years ago. Too many people by far. And I kinda lost most of my friends because I would either not see/not be able to respond to a text or facebook message for long enough that I’d feel guilty, like worrying that they thought I was ignoring them? And then to get away from the guilt I would legitimately ignore them. Or my phone. Sometimes for multiple weeks. People sort of stopped asking to hang out…

    Like

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