Addressing My Addiction To Anxiety

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By Julie Winsel

So much of my anxiety revolves around fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of people finding out about my failures (linked to fear of rejection). But I also fear the anxiety itself and what it could or has already done to me or my relationships. My depression, in conjunction with this fear, leaves me unmotivated to face these fears and, in fact, makes them into reality.

In season 7 of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Rupaul Charles is walking around helping the queens with their characters for the upcoming “Snatch Game” challenge. She comes up to Katya Zamolodchikova, who is terrified about her character choice and stuck in an anxiety loop.

Rupaul very plainly tells her, “You’re addicted to the anxiety.” This, of course, blows Katya’s mind and, subsequently, mine.

It’s so easy to get trapped in the fear cycle, and that fear only builds upon itself until I’ve been paralyzed for so long that I’ve made it into an issue.

At my last desk job, I often found this to be a problem. For example, I would put off calling someone, day by day, secretly hoping they would either call me or the whole thing would be forgotten, simply because I was afraid of the possibility of backlash or condemnation for taking so long to call them back. This, of course, would compound on itself, the longer I waited to call them back, the higher the likelihood of reprimand. I would get stuck in an anxiety loop, addicted to the anxiety when it would solve everything just to make the freaking call.

Instead of making the call, a simple two-minute solution to the hours of dread I was putting myself through, I was feeding into the anxiety, addicted to it, like Rupaul said.

Then when I finally would call them, or email them, because I was too chicken to call, things would be fine. They had been waiting for my call, of course, but it was never earth shattering that I had waited a few days to do it.

My brain’s propensity for fear, and those fears of rejection and failure, have made me paranoid that I am going to face misunderstanding and confrontation everywhere I go (including the grocery store) and that every confrontation is going to be devastating to my life or career. In fact, I’m increasing their likelihood when I don’t break the cycle.

When Rupaul told Katya she was addicted to the anxiety, I understood it immediately. I knew that’s exactly what I was doing as well. I feed off it and feed into it. It’s a codependent cycle. I can make the excuse that the anxiety is what’s making me afraid, but the anxiety compounds and makes that excuse stronger than me.

But I can’t let it.

I have to be more conscious of the cycles and not get stuck in the cyclone. It’s like in the end of The Little Mermaid when Ursula, in all her big girl glory, whips the ocean into a twisted mess of ships and wreckage. The anxiety is not Ursula, although I want to believe it is.

I am Ursula, in all my big girl glory. I am the one who drives the trident into the sea and shoots lightning bolts at Ariel and Eric, which are my responsibilities and chores. It’s only a matter of time until my responsibilities and chores drive the sharp bow of a ship into me, deflating me.

But I think that’s the worry all along. In the cyclone, I have a sense of control. It’s a false, sense, but it’s a nice delusion. In the cyclone, I am whipping all the ships around me and as long as there is chaos, no one can see that I’ve in fact lost all control completely and have no idea what I’m doing. I just know how to make storms.

That’s the ultimate truth and what my anxiety breaks down to: I am terrified of not being in control. I have control over the cyclone; I created it and I know how to keep it going. But the longer I keep the cyclone going, the bigger it gets and more things get sucked into it. But if I keep it spinning, I know those things are in there and I know exactly where they stand.

There’s the problem with my fear of not being in control. It’s horrifically misguided and mishandled. Instead of creating cyclones, I need to create weather stations and send out weather balloons. I need to set up systems to watch for signs the impending storms.

I need to return King Neptune’s trident. I need to sit quietly on the beach and find the calm within myself. I need to not wait to address my responsibilities and instead act quickly to resolve and complete things. I need to be accountable to myself and others around me, because my actions affect them as well.

Thanks to Rupaul, Katya and I both realized we’re on a treadmill. You can keep running on the treadmill or you can get off of it and actually address what you’re running from. It’s waiting at the end of the belt.

And I promise it’s not as scary as the storm.

Julie is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via unsplash}

4 thoughts on “Addressing My Addiction To Anxiety

  1. Catherine says:

    Wow. This describes so much of my life – just last year I realized my anxiety – and my addiction to that cycle and false sense of control – was a bigger problem than I thought (medication has helped me greatly but in combination with actually addressing the issues). That Rupaul comment is spot on. Thanks for sharing this.


  2. sunriseandraindrops says:

    That’s so true! I can totally relate! Love the comparison with the little mermaid. I think anxiety can become a habit just like biting your nails. I don’t mean that the anxiety is not real but you get so used to it that you don’t even see it anymore. It just becomes “normal”. So sometimes we need other people to help and point it out to us…


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