My therapist is really fond of trying to get me to not worry about things I can’t control. I laugh sometimes because the entire foundation of my anxiety disorder rests on me worrying about things I can’t control. Death, the weather, car accidents — things that are out of my hands is my specialty.
So we talked this week about my anxiety surrounding the election and she trotted out the usual “it’s out of your control” lecture and I stopped her. This isn’t something I can talk myself down from, I told her. This isn’t me worrying about a hurricane that’s not even going to hit us, or getting into an accident on the way to work, or dying in my sleep. I was worrying for the fate of the country. I was taking on the anxiety of everyone. And with good cause! There’s a lot to be anxious about!
I know I have no control over any of this, except to go do my duty and vote. That is the only thing I can control and it is a miniscule thing, something meant to make me feel a power I don’t really wield. I can only sit back and watch it all unfold, soaking up cable news, doomscrolling twitter, eschewing sleep in favor of watching charts and graphs change and evolve.
Is any of this good for me? No, it’s not. I know that and my therapist knows and the fact that I am starting to spiral out of control concerns her. But it does not really concern me. My anxiety has become ambient; it surrounds me like an aura, it is part of everything I touch and see and hear, it has enveloped me. No amount of “talk yourself down” from the peanut gallery is going to affect me now. I live for this kind of anxiety. I revel in it, bathe in it, luxuriate in it. My therapist asks me how I’m going to have a productive anxiety, how I’m going to channel all this nervous energy into something good and noble. But I don’t want to bake a cake or rearrange my closet or start a new novel. I don’t even want to take a Klonopin. I want to lean into this, feel my body vibrate with energy and make things utterly worse for myself in every way possible. Because I don’t know any other way and I’m not about to learn now, the day before this immensely consequential election.
I am prepared for my brain to go into overdrive. I am prepared for my hands to shake, for my stomach to turn, for dread to settle into the far reaches of my mind where anxiety has not stuck its claws in yet. I am well versed in experiencing dread and anxiety at the same time and hoo boy, it’s a ride. I may throw up. I may pass out due to mental exhaustion. But at no time, in no way, shape…