From Anxious Mom To…Anxious A**hole?

While reading some stuff on anxiety last night, I came across a post (well, article since it was on what seemed to be a legit site, but it read more like a blog post) that talked about “indulging” your anxiety and how doing so can make you an asshole. And, if you do indulge in your symptoms, then you ultimately don’t deserve relationships at all. After all, one can’t expect their friends and family to be inconvenienced by episodes of anxiety. Or depression, as depression was mentioned, too.

No, I’m not going to post the link, as the website doesn’t deserve the traffic, but I am going to rant a bit. Typically I would just roll my eyes and move along. There’s always going to be a few idiots who think it’s appropriate to say really stupid things, but in this case, there was a shit ton of comments, and in many of the ones I read people agreed and voiced how tired they were of people playing the “anxiety card.” That was one was new to me — first we had the Race Card, then the Woman Card, now Anxiety Card. So, I’m going to do the rant thing a little and maybe someone with similar thinking will come across this and take heed. Probably not, though.

First of all, “indulging one’s anxiety symptoms”? Typically indulging refers to someone getting/doing something they want. Indulging in chocolate. Indulging by buying your grandkids a bunch of toys. Indulging by doing something you want, whether it’s a healthy something or not. But no one with anxiety or depression (or any other mental illness, since I’m sure that displaying symptoms of those would also warrant being accused of playing the (Whatever) Card and inconveniencing people) wants this. A lot of it is out of their scope of control.

Here is a list of general anxiety disorder symptoms from good ol’ WebMD, also known as the anxious person’s hell, in case you’re not clear on the frivolities people suffering from an anxiety disorder are indulging in:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Not being able to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

The last time I checked, feeling like I couldn’t breathe and was having a heart attack, feeling like I’d be en route to the ER if I didn’t know better, isn’t exactly indulging. Taking medication, avoiding triggers, and all the breathing skills in the world don’t do a damn thing sometimes, especially for the anxiety episodes that come out of the blue with no apparent cause.


Definitely not how “indulging” anxiety feels.

I wonder, when someone with a physical illness experiences symptoms that they have little to no control over, is it indulging then? “Oh, please, you’re just indulging your laryngitis by not being able to talk in a loud clear voice.” Or something equally as stupid.

Second, the notion that friends and family should “dump your ass” if you “give in” to multiple episodes of anxiety is just ridiculous. If that’s the way someone feels, then maybe they’re the one with the problem. If they can’t see past the inconvenience of dinner plans being canceled or having to postpone game night until next Tuesday, and have a little compassion upon hearing the reason the plans were canceled, then is that really a relationship someone should want to keep up? Yet the writer of the article made it out so that the people with anxiety were the assholes here, the ones who were the toxic people.

Oh, and when people with an anxiety disorder back out of things, it’s not because they want to risk further isolating themselves. It’s because they can’t do whatever the thing you want them to do without feeling absolutely miserable. And wouldn’t that be kind of a party killer anyway? Panic attacks between shots of tequila doesn’t sound fun for anyone.

sheldon cooper big bang theory

Yeah, the irritability and mood stuff can be difficult to deal with, but again, would you shame someone that was suffering from a physical illness for acting pissy every so often? Even when they feel terrible for it, take responsibility, make amends, and take steps to prevent it from coming out around others?

Third, stop the tough love bullcrap. It. Does. Not. Work. Why, why, why would someone think that it’s appropriate to tell people suffering from an anxiety disorder to stop doing the things that help keep them grounded and get through the day? Apparently telling the anxious person in your life to kick that shit to the curb or be kicked to the curb themselves is a form of tough love. No, that’s just bullshit for saying that you’re so selfish that you don’t want to be inconvenienced by other people’s problems, that if everything can’t be on your terms, then you’re not interested.

Now that I’m getting close to the end of this, let me go ahead and say — for the record, yes, people with an anxiety disorder can be assholes, because I’m sure someone will pipe up and say “Well, I know someone with an anxiety disorder and they’re definitely an asshole.” But guess what? They aren’t assholes because of their mental health problems anymore than the asshole three doors down is an asshole because he has diabetes — they’re just assholes who happen to have an anxiety disorder. Maybe they like to blame treating someone like shit on anxiety or another problem to try to get a free pass to do whatever the hell they want, but know that it isn’t so much the disorder as it is the pre-existing asshole condition. Certainly don’t suggest that all people with a mental illness are assholes because they’re experiencing a symptom.

Let’s stop with the “playing the (whatever) card.” Spewing that bullshit does nothing more than create shame and make it less likely that people struggling will forgo or continue to forgo seeking treatment.


33 thoughts on “From Anxious Mom To…Anxious A**hole?

  1. Jeeeez. I think the person who wrote the article is an asshole. I’d also like to make sure that it’s not the person whose graduation I missed because I didn’t have it in me to make the 4-6 hours drive on a Thursday night! (which apparently, people without mental illness aren’t keen on, either)
    Yeah, when I was lying in the hospital with the electrodes all over me, I was NOT thinkin about how I was indulging myself. I was thinking about how my children are too young to be motherless.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The latest of these “card”-complaints to really get my goat was ” Stop playing the victim card!” (I’ll spare you the invective that spewed outta me at that one. I’m sure you can imagine!)

    [BTW, I’ve been thinking about something you wrote recently — in response to the awards-thing questions, I think? — about how you “averaged” between 3-7 hours of sleep a night. My own sleep has been wackadoo these past few years (prior to my breakdown/breakapart, I slept a reliable 8hrs or so most nights), and I found it strangely comforting to know I wasn’t alone in the “every night a crap shoot” sleep arena. Because so many things I read — maybe you and I should just KNOCK IT OFF with the thing-reading! 😉 — talk about “vital importance of regular sleep schedule yadda yadda” as if it’s something I’m supposed to have total control over. Anyway — thanks for that moment of helping me feel less freaky and alone! ]

    Liked by 1 person

    • The victim card? Good lord. I can only imagine your response. People who say “play the ____ card” should be punched in the face.

      I’m sorry you have such a hard time with sleep, too. If it were for Ambien, I can only imagine what that average would be. Mine has been that way since I was a little kid. I remember as early as first or second grade not being able to sleep, largely because of anxiety getting at me. If only getting that 7-8 hours of sleep were as easy as people make it out to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Juana says:

    Wow, that article sounds ridiculous. Some people are just assholes, and assholes come in all sorts of packages, just like non-assholes. What a horribly harmful generalization. I can’t imagine being a person who says someone’s anxiety or depression is a sign they’re an asshole and not in need of support. The fuck. Smh.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Whe people get sick, I tell them not to play the flu card. They just need to stop being sick and puking all over the place. Their fever is probably fake anyway. What an asshole to get so violently ill they think they can’t go out drinkin! I don’t view mental illnesses any differently than I do physical. I really wouldn’t tell someone physically ill to just get over it any more than I would tell someone with a mental illness the same thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    That is exactly why there is so much mental health stigma out there. So many uninformed opinions and people that are secure in their lack of knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Only explanation I can come up with is that people are pretty stupid when they try to discuss things they have not experienced and thus cannot possibly understand. I guess I am ‘indulging’ myself when i use an inhaler for asthma symptoms or take a shot of insulin for my diabetes too! Sheesh. You’ve got enough on your plate without having to hear that crap! Hang in there … hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Whoever wrote that article is indeed an asshat. As others have mentioned in previous comments, it’s uninformed people standing on soapboxes with other uninformed people nodding their heads in agreement. Maybe the author was misdiagnosed with the anxiety disorder, which was how she was able to “cure” herself.

    It’s things and people like this that could prevent others from speaking up about how they are feeling and looking into whether they may have an illness that could be treated. How aggravating.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for this. Reading this made me feel less like a freak & more like a person.
    It’s comforting to know that not only are there others, but there are others that are sick of the bs we face everyday too.

    I hope you change a few minds. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow. I… I don’t even know what to say to that. That’s definitely the first time I’ve heard of the “anxiety card” though I do often wonder how many of my friends often think about it that way.

    Your post was great though. Definitely something along the lines of what I would say/reply with. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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