I’m writing this post with the complete understanding that I may come across a little insane. Perhaps even more than a little. Maybe you’ll skim through the first few paragraphs, write me off as decidedly mad, and never listen to a word I say again.
That’s fair. On some days I really wouldn’t blame you. Besides, this is about my new imaginary friend. Well, not quite a friend, but we’ll get to that.
This story starts as most of them seem to: I was hanging out with my boyfriend. Absolutely nothing went wrong. We talked about his birthday, about the fact I want to get my own apartment, and either napped, cleaned, or watched trashy shows for the majority of the day. Besides his insistence not to clean up after himself, it was all good.
I go upstairs, trying to do the responsible thing and go to bed earlier. Besides, I’m starting to feel a bit off. I wash off my makeup, climb into bed, figure out my plan for tomorrow, and then it hits me. The anxiety, that is. Sure, I had noticed it creeping up a few times during the evening, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to hit me so suddenly. Guess I really should learn by now, shouldn’t I?
The conversation went a little like this:
“Come on, Chale, be honest with yourself. He’s never going to want to move forward, especially with you. There’s no future in this, and you know it. He doesn’t want you around. He only showed up because he was bored. You didn’t have a good night with him at all. And you’re wanting to have an apartment with him? You honestly think he could handle being around you that much? You’re far too obnoxious. That’s enough to turn him off that idea right away. You really should break this off now before you end up wasting anymore of yourself on someone who’s too good for you.”
So I cried, texted my friend hoping she would respond at two in the morning, and wanted nothing more than all this stupidity to leave me alone.
That’s when I came up with an idea.
Recently, one of my good friends and I have been joking around about characters known as Dorito Chins, simply because of the length and shape of their face. It’s a pretty awesome pass time, but that’s besides the point. I flipped open my sketchbook, intending on spending some time venting my feelings, when what appeared before me?
So that got me thinking: what if my anxiety had a name, and what if this name was Dorito Chin? What if all my stress and panicking wasn’t coming from me, but rather, it was a jerk with a really pointy chin mumbling things to me on a constant basis? In which case, it would look something like this:
The more I got thinking about it, the more it started to make sense. If I could classify my anxiety as a character, and picture this character talking to me, I could not only separate myself from the lies that I’m hearing, but suddenly they don’t seem as legitimate anymore. It goes from something like “LOVE ISN’T ENOUGH TO MAINTAIN A RELATIONSHIP AND I’LL HAVE TO BREAKUP WITH MY BOYFRIEND,” to “wow who’s this moron with the massive chin talking to me?”
The point is, my anxiety is not me. It’s something I struggle with, sure, but it isn’t who I am. I’m brave, confident, and capable. My anxiety is a jerk with a massive face and stubby legs. We’re completely different. When I get anxious thoughts, they’re not coming from me. They’re not there because they’re valid, or because I actually have something to be concerned about, they’re there simply because some moron is trying to spiral me down into chaos. Which isn’t to say that this has helped me feel a whole lot better, or taken away my stress in any way, but those intrusive thoughts become much harder to believe when they’re coming from a pointy-faced idiot.
That’s the thing. He can scream at me all he likes, but I really don’t have to listen. It’s not like I didn’t know that before, but senselessly trying to ignore and suppress my anxious thoughts has never worked for me. But now I can just dismiss them as being the of an idiot.
On another note, I think this is a great analogy to use – not only to help me understand myself better, but for others to understand me as well. Telling people that I have anxiety is one thing, but I never really got the sense that they knew what it was like. Telling people that I have an idiot constantly shoving all my biggest insecurities in front of my face every second may make it easier for them to understand. Instead of buying into my anxiety and letting it take over, I can simply tell them that Dorito Chin is saying something or another to me, and it’s quite obnoxious. Again, this also separates my identity from the anxiety.
In the end, I can’t shove thoughts into a corner. I can’t tell them to go have a time out. I can’t blow them up with a torpedo gun. But what I can do is punch Dorito Chin in the face when he starts getting too personal. I can tell him to shove off, lock him in a closet and starve him half to death, or put him on an uninhabited planet and then blow it up with the Death Star. I don’t have to listen to him. This is my life, my house, my relationship – not his – and he has absolutely no control over any of it. I do. I call the shots, I’m in charge. And even though I can’t shut him up completely, and he’ll be there to keep shoving dumb things in my face, I can just lock him outside. Because I’ve taken away the control he has over me.
So hey, maybe it’s something to try, even if it does make you seem a little insane.