Isn’t mental illness sexy? Isn’t it just so alluring and delectable in a potential partner? Thought Catalog thinks so for Reasons Unknown, and I gotta say I take offense. You might wonder why I’d get my self all up in a bluster about an article that states explicitly that a symptom of my injury makes me oh so delightful and perfect as a partner. Don’t I like compliments? Isn’t it fortifying to hear that I’m not broken and may even be desirable? It might, but consider the following:
-The article misinterprets manifestations of anxiety in a total creepazoid manner.
-The article romanticizes parts of my problem that I personally know to be terrible for others.
Granted, I don’t have straight up Just Anxiety, Please, No Ice like I feel the article is trying to swaddle up and present to you as a good excuse to lean on a nervous girl to date you. I have post traumatic stress disorder, a component of which is elevated arousal and attendant anxiety. Therapy has eased me into sitting with a professional and letting them call it what it is, into facing it as a challenge and embracing treatment. I’m also acclimatizing to the language of recovery. Flashbacks, triggers, and hypervigilance are words for things I’d long accepted as nameless and formless elements of my existence.They also make me a poor choice as a date for reasons I’ll cover as I pick the article apart.
“When you love someone who has anxiety, you’re loving someone who is in tune with their every emotion. Someone who feels everything with their being and doesn’t apologize for it.”
People experiencing extreme, physical anxiety are mainly in touch with vigilance and dread. This isn’t a Star Child Power, and it can actually deaden your connection to what you’re feeling underneath the fact that you can feel your pulse in the backs of your hands. Taken to extremes, it puts you in a constant low-grade panic that puts your emotions on the back burner and makes it impossible to process and communicate them.
Also, it’s not uncommon for people with capital-A Anxiety to apologize for everything. Especially their own feelings.
“They are going to be the type of person who senses your tension after a long day of work. They are going to sense your anger, just from your footsteps in the room. They are going to see your body language and hear the way you’re talking and immediately know if something is wrong.”
This grossly misinterprets the tender manifestations of deep suffering. This is vigilance to your angry or moody body language because they’re terrified you hate them, and it isn’t alluring. Or it shouldn’t be, not to a healthy person who understands why they behave this way.
I often have to leave the house when someone is quietly angry, because I’m always on high alert for What Terrible Thing Shall Next Befall. I know someone is angry before they know it. Recognizing the subtle cues of anger was a way of keeping safe as a child. It’s not one I unlearned, it’s not an association I uncoupled.
“They know that they have baggage. They know that they have issues and that their mental health can sometimes bring you and your relationship down but, they trust you won’t leave.”
For many, anxiety results in a steep reduction in interpersonal trust and a creeping, ever-present suspicion that you and everyone else will abandon them. I don’t experience this, but I’ve watched it chew others apart. Their relationships, too.
“You are loving someone who will nurture you when you are hurting, because they know exactly what that feels like.”
When your brain is a traitorous wreck, it is in fact really challenging and draining to hold your manipulative, oblivious girlfriend’s hand and listen to her problems all evening. It can be hard to put out emotional energy for anyone else when shit gets bad because you’re dragging yourself through your days ready to sock someone or run screaming into the sea.
“You are loving someone who will hold you when your stress gets the best of you, because they know exactly what that feels like.”
Or they’ll feel terrorized by your stress reactions, avoid you, and ooch closer to calling the relationship off because you’re unhappy and that must be their fault and you’re scary right now anyway.
“You are loving someone who will never take you for granted, because they know how rare it is to find love.”
This (and much of the article) is romanticized codependency. The article jabbers on and on about how someone with anxiety will never take you for granted, how they’ll put everything they have into your relationship, how you’ll be their number one with a bullet just drop the beat down now chop it and screw it or however it goes forever. But that’s.
That is a love that a creep wants. “Date someone broken,” the article suggests. “They’re too broken to leave you, and they’ll pour all their broken heart into keeping you because their brain keeps them in constant fear of upsetting and losing you.”
Date someone broken, because they’ve been beat down and don’t believe they can do better.
Date someone broken, because their damage has made them super attuned to signs of distress and they’ll dash right over to put out your unrelated emotional tire fires because they fear the consequences.
Date someone broken, because the ridicule they face every day has lowered their standards for the positive attention they already crave so desperately.
Date someone broken, because apparently everyone else got smart to you.
I’ve been the broken someone in a couple before, a few times, and let me tell you: The undercurrent of “It’s ideal! They slather you in love and never leave! THE PERFECT DATECRIME!” that practically swallows this article into a sinkhole? Not even true in my case.
I’ve ended every relationship I’ve had so far because commitment is terrifying. Because the fear of re-traumatizing myself is so real. And because I knew I was the Broken Someone. I didn’t know the words for it then, but I knew something was up with me that made me very hard to be with and made it very hard to be with anyone else.
Don’t make this out to be an alluring fragile flower old soul thing. Frightened animals bite, and people terrified you’ll leave may very well manipulate and harm you. Anxiety isn’t all writing in notebooks and snuffling in your PJs with mood lighting on.
And anyone who sees the panic and reads it as “Good to fuck because it makes me happy and never leaves,” is High Lord Magistrate of Creep Mountain.