9 Ridiculous things that make me anxious that only disabled people will understand
One of my biggest pet peeves in the entire world is the comments you get from people who genuinely believe you can outthink your anxiety.
Come on, it’s all in your head.
Just calm down.
You know nothings happening, right? You’re fine.
Stop thinking about it.
There’s a big difference between being anxious for a reason and being anxious because your brain is an angry loser who makes you panicky all the time whether it’s necessary or not. It’s not like nerves before a performance or forgetting to study for an exam, which might actually serve a purpose.
It’s useless and it’s intrusive. I once saw a tweet that explained it as “always hearing the enemy music but never seeing an enemy” and that’s one of the best ways I’ve ever seen it described.
I feel like my baseline is around a 3. It’s never gone, but it’s not always overwhelming. Like the warning music is just loud enough that I can barely hear it in the back of my mind, but loud enough I can’t forget it’s there. As soon as my anxiety latches onto something or someone, it jumps up to a 6 or 7.
And man, it latches onto the most ridiculous things – some of which I’m pretty sure only other disabled people will understand.
Are they going to be automatic? What if they’re not working? Or if they’re just not automatic? What if there’s no one there to help me open it? And I’m stuck outside peering through the window like the sad picture of the Ikea monkey? Welcome to my inner monologue going into any new building or room.
They’re always too steep or too off to the side that they’re actually sending you out into traffic. Or there’s a curb cut on one end of the sidewalk but not the other. Sometimes all I want to do is go on a walk but I’m so stressed about getting on and off sidewalks that I just give up the idea.
Crowd participation of literally any kind
Because there’s nothing worse than being put on the spot, trying to politely decline, having the host insist, and then having to awkwardly but quickly explain why you actually can’t do what they want and they need to pick someone else. And then there’s dealing with the aftermath that will haunt you for the next 36 hours.
Movie trailers with disabled characters
As much as I love representation and I’m always begging for it – sometimes movies are just better without it. And by that I mean, it’s almost always so poorly done and offensive I just wish it never made it into the film. I want people to make the effort to be inclusive, but if you’re not going to bother to do it well, and with actually disabled actors, then don’t do it at all.
It makes me anxious because I get my hopes up and then I just dread how awful it will inevitably end up being. Will I ever stop being bitter over ‘Me Before you’? No. I literally never will.
Last minute invitations
I always love being invited to literally anything, whether or not I have any interest at all in going. But the last minute thing sucks because you never know if it’s going to be accessible and by that point, it’s too late to change anything. You don’t want to be a hassle asking a ton of questions. If you do have to turn it down, you feel crappy for not being fun and spontaneous.
Also because you know you probably could’ve gone and had an amazing time if you’d just been given a little more notice.
When someone says “can I ask you something personal?”
This sucks for anyone, but when you’re disabled, people tend to think that your entire medical history and everything about the inner workings of your body is fair game. You will be asked how you have sex or go to the bathroom, if you’re going to die soon and how, and what’s “wrong with you” often. It doesn’t go over well if you opt out of answering, either.
Trying a new restaurant
There’s just so much that could go wrong in this scenario. From tables that you can’t pull into, food that’s difficult to eat, and rooms that are too crowded to navigate because people never pull their chairs into their table far enough but then do an awkward shimmy like that half an inch they shifted is going to make a difference.
Complaining about your problems
Sometimes I feel like I have to be careful how much I complain about things relating to my disability. I have a moment of panic any time I just want to whine about muscle cramp. Or how much I hate that I can’t drive.
I always worry that someone’s going to take that and try to use it against me. Like it will somehow negate everything positive I try to say about my experience being disabled. I’ve seen it happen to other people and I’m always aware of everything I say because of it.
For people who can’t lift their arms up, smack hard enough to make a satisfying clap, or have muscle contractions that make straightening your wrist/palm/fingers impossible, high fives are the devil. The devil in the form of white peoples favorite greeting to everyone. Please, stop trying to high five me. It’s uncomfortable for everyone involved.
It’s pretty hard to logic your way out of a feeling that is already so beyond logic in the first place.
There’s literally no reason to be anxious when I eat grapes with seeds in them, but it still freaks me out. I can tell my brain all day that it’s no big deal, but it doesn’t change anything. Sometimes it’s the little mundane things that most people never think about that make people with anxiety suffer the most.
And within all those mundane little things, there’s a subsection of things that only disabled people notice. We have to deal with so many little things that no one else ever has to think about. Whether that be trying to cross the street or planning how you’ll get out of your apartment in an emergency.
Anyway, the point is that anxiety is incredibly invasive. I know that it’s silly sometimes and irrational, but that’s why it can be so hard to fight back against. Because it’s not fighting fair.