Too many people still don’t understand what it means to have an anxiety disorder. If I was able to just turn off the anxiety, I would. If I could just take a few deep breaths and relax, I would. Anxiety disorder is not simple.
Two weeks ago, I was at the nail salon. I just wanted a pedicure and a regular manicure. I have horrible cuticles and if I don’t stay on top of them, it’s really gross. Just trust me. I also wish I could take care of them myself. I try. I fail. It’s my reality.
However, on this day I wasn’t able to go to my usual spot. I went someplace else. A place full of people who don’t know me. A place filled with judgment.
Growing up, I bit my nails all the time. All.the.time. It’s honestly one of those things where if someone tried to stop me, they unleashed an angry beast. Don’t stop me from my relief. You have no idea what you’re REALLY doing when you try and stop me from the one activity I find the most productive outlet.
Family members tried to bribe me all my life to quit. I just couldn’t. It wasn’t until I got engaged I realized I needed to quit. My motivation? The picture the photographer would inevitably take of our hands together with the rings. I didn’t want gnarly nails. I started getting manicures religiously. Every two weeks. (The same girl did my nails. She even noted if she wasn’t the one seeing me every two weeks, she would think months had gone by because that’s how awful my cuticles grow.)
For years I did a really good job about not biting my nails. I stayed on top of my manicures and even started getting gel manicures to help strengthen my nails.
However, the last several years have been difficult for me to get my anxiety under control, so the nail biting began again. I hate it. I really do. I have immediate remorse once I’m done biting them all off like a savage.
So I went to a new nail salon and they were trying to convince me to do the dip polish. I super hate the dip polish. I did it once. It seems unsanitary (everyone else is dipping their nails in the same tub!) and it peeled super quickly.
I politely declined about 4 times. Then the manager came over and asked why I wouldn’t do the dip polish. Okay, seriously, what the hell, people!? Then he looked at my nails. They weren’t chewed, but they were short. I also have trouble with them being short and brittle. Even when I’m not biting.
He said, “Oh… you bite.” I ignored him. I’ve gotten used to the judgment of being a nail-biter even though I’m not currently biting them. (I honestly feel like I’m justifying a serious dependency as I write my nail-biting defense here!)
Apparently, it’s not acceptable to bite your nails in this salon. Ignoring him was a worse offense.
The manager continued and asked, “Why you bite?” Totally irritated and wishing I could just walk out and leave despite my manicure just beginning I said, “I don’t know.” Then he said, “I ask my clients. They say ‘oh, it stress. I’m stressed. I got stress.’ It’s just excuse. You can quit.”
I continued to ignore him.
Then he said, “You hear me? You can quit, you just won’t.” And then he rolled his eyes at me when I stone face stared at him.
If I could quit suffering from an anxiety order, you don’t think I would? Suffering from anxiety is one of the most torturous obstacles of my daily life. Between anxiety and hyperhidrosis, I’m basically sick of myself on a daily basis. But these are things I can’t control.
I take medication for my anxiety and depression. I work hard every day to better myself and focus on what I can control.
My brain doesn’t always agree to this plan.
This is why I’m medicated.
This guy was a jackass. I get it. But I’m hoping to gain further awareness about anxiety disorder and why it’s not so easy just to “stop” being anxious.
From the Anxiety and Depression Association
If someone close to you has an anxiety or depressive disorder, here are some ways you can help:
- Learn about the disorder. Understanding what your friend or relative is going through will help you give support, as well as keep your worry under control.
- Encourage treatment. Offer to drive him to an appointment or attend a therapy session with him/her.
- Realize and accept stressful periods. Modify your expectations of how your friend or relative should act and be sure to be extra supportive during difficult times.
- Remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently. Be tolerant, supportive, and nonjudgmental. Respect his or her feelings even if you don’t understand exactly what your friend or relative is going through.
- Be encouraging and don’t get discouraged. Give praise for even the smallest accomplishment. Stay positive.
- Ask how you can help. Listen carefully to the response.
- Talk to someone. Being supportive all the time is difficult, so make sure you have someone—a friend, family member, or counselor—to support you, too. This support system may be especially important if your friend or family member is not seeking treatment.