My Anxiety, Part II: The Feelings

Jen Sullivan
10 min readSep 19, 2023

Continuing from my last post, let us look at the main question: what is it like to have crippling anxiety? I consider mine to be “crippling” because it affects my ability to do simple tasks, like drive a car, for example, or sometimes just leave my home. Most people do not understand this and think I’m just lazy or that I need to change my way of thinking. That is not how it works — you don’t just wake up one day and think “gee, I’m really tired of this anxiety, so I’m just going to get rid of it.” My anxiety can vary from day to day, sometimes letting me be almost normal, and then, like a tsunami, it crushes me and I feel different.

There are many levels to my anxiety, and I’ve realized they are all related. Perhaps I have had it all my life, but it manifested in a different form until my brain suddenly couldn’t take it anymore. It was like a switch flipped in my brain, changing my “fight or flight” response from mostly fight to just flight. That was the change in 2016, shifting my frustrations from creating anger, which often makes me feel empowered, to feeling the need to hide.

There are three main emotions that come with my anxiety: anger, anxiousness, and depression.

Anger

My anger is much more than simply being mad at something. Some days it’s subtle, a general frustration at the world and everyone in it. The eye roll at the stupidity of mankind and the sigh of irritation at the annoying questions from others. It isn’t that something — or someone — makes me angry, it’s just how my anxiety manifested that particular day. I often wonder if this is the default mode of my brain — it certainly seemed to be up until 2014 when my ex-boss and then-best friend entered my world, along with many friends from Faire. I felt valued there, and that certainly does a lot to affect one’s mood.

However, I have discovered that, like the Sith in Star Wars, I find strength in anger. When I was extremely ill in 2016, it was after my then-boss had enraged me so much that I started to get better. That, and getting engaged to my then-boyfriend. Looking back at my life, anger has helped me to overcome many obstacles, but at a cost: I was often known as the angry one, which affected my relationships with others. People would avoid telling me things because they feared I would get angry, which puts distance in any relationship, especially close friends.

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Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, and a gardener, among many things. I enjoy writing as a way to share with others. You'll find no AI content here--I am a real writer.