Everyone tells me not to worry about things -- just be happy or whatever -- but I have an anxiety disorder, so technically that's not possible unless I'm on pills (which I'm considering). I was never properly diagnosed with anxiety, but my whole family has a problem, and it doesn't take a genius to figure it out. The world could be melting into a pit of fire and I would still be worried about whether or not I have apples at home for breakfast.
Most fears that anxious people have are actually of little threat, if at all relevant. We don't necessarily know why we care, but we're positive if we don't, we will either die or our lives will go to shit. What the Garcias have realized, however, is that anxiety also has its perks -- there are many ways to take advantage of the negative. It's like having a handicapped pass hanging in front of your face for all of life. You could either be ashamed of it, or you could use it to get a dope parking spot at the mall.
My mom -- a claustrophobic -- used to manipulate her disorder to get out of going on amusement park rides, for example. She'd tell us there was "no way" she could ride the Vortex because she would feel "trapped," like she "couldn't escape." Yet somehow she managed to struggle through Rip Roaring Rapids and the Log Flume with no alarm whatsoever. Apparently, she would dive into the fake river if necessary. While my dad dutifully took my brother and I on every rollercoaster twice, my mom would go missing in the park, only later to be found juggling a handful of arcade prizes and ice cream.
My dad is OCD and a germaphobe; he idolizes Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets. As a result, he refuses to share any of his food with us at home. He has his own fruit basket; his own container of orange juice; his own shelf in the pantry. Even if we are all eating Cheerios, there's a box for my dad, and a box for the rest of us; and he notices when anything is missing. He does this because a) he believes we will contaminate his food; and most importantly, b) he doesn't like to share.
My little brother used to get nervous taking tests when he was in school -- he said his "hands would shake" -- so he was allotted twice as much time as everyone else to take the SATs, and also had his own personal note-taker during class.
"Seriously?" I asked, astonished. "She just sits beside you in class and writes everything down, so you basically don't have to pay attention at all?"
"Pretty much," he replied, flashing me a big, toothy, "I Love My Anxiety" grin.
What I've realized over the years then is that I'm the only family member not making use of her anxiety. Thus, I'm going to start right now.
The first thing to do is make a list of everything I'm nervous about so I can determine how to capitalize on my assets. On any given day, I've come up with 35 items of concern. They are as follows:
1) That soon, I will be so scrapped for cash, I will be forced to write about the Kardashians in Us Weekly
2) That people are laughing at me when I parallel park
3) That Radiohead will break up
4) That I'll get hit by a car when I'm running -- my body crushed in the middle of the street -- and when they find me, Taylor Swift's song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" will be playing on my iPod and they will mention it in news reports
5) That people really can tell how often I check their Facebook profiles
6) That I accidentally killed my first hamster Chowder by shutting a drawer on his head (he died the next day, but definitely could have been a coincidence)
7) That I'll get struck by a shanked golf ball
8) That my kids will turn out to be smart asses just like my mom used to tell me she wished would happen
9) That a home video of me rapping "Shook Ones" from New Year's Eve 2009 will resurface
10) That my tweets aren't good enough
11) That there really is a hell and it involves Ann Coulter
12) That geese will chase me down and peck me and no one will be around to believe it despite the fact I've been prophesizing this for years
13) That my landlord will realize I figured out how to use the laundry machine without paying
14) That I need alcohol to have a good time
15) That marketers will eventually stretch the holiday season out for the entire year, thus making it acceptable to play Brenda Lee at all times
16) That I'll be the next victim of the killer in the backseat from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
17) That someone posted a photo of me online without using Instagram filters
18) That Trader Joe's will discontinue Joe Joe's cookies
19) That the world will end and I still won't have won the New Yorker Caption Contest
20) That I'll intentionally run over a pedestrian who pauses when crossing an intersection to text
21) That Rosemary's Baby is real, yo
22) That my future husband won't cook
23) That there is no future husband
24) That the bump behind my knee is cancer
25) That the bruise on my ankle is cancer
26) That everything on my entire body is cancer
27) That the exorbitant number of trips I make to the grocery store each week indicates I'm turning into my dad
28) That snakes are jumping out at me from the bushes (a new issue, potentially more serious)
29) That the 49ers will suck again
30) That there's a stain somewhere on my clothes I'm not aware of
31) That no one will show up at my funeral
32) That, due to crowds and general layout, I won't be able to find Tupac when I get to Heaven
33) That -- and this is totally unlikely but -- I'll be flying in a plane; it will crash into the ocean; and, even though I survive the crash, I will get eaten by a shark
34) That I will one day lose my mind either due to senility or neuroses
35) That I will fail. Not at any one thing specifically, just everything
So far, I'm not seeing any positive uses for these fixations, but I'm sure with a little thought, and a prescription it will come to me. There are many negative consequences to anxiety -- these I deal with each and every day -- but ultimately, the Garcia way is to look at the bright side. We demand special treatment for our problems, and that, I feel, is a wonderful solution.
Consider me crazy from here on out.