Stuff I Talk About

by Christina Ledbetter


I’ve got the bad nerves. It started when I no joke went up to my mom and, in distress, asked her, “When I graduate high school and have to give a speech, what am I suppose to say?”

My mom sighed and said, “I don’t know, but you might as well start worrying about it now.” I was five.

(Turns out, the person who gives the speech is the valedictorian, and instead of finishing first in my class I finished 191st, so it all worked out.)

The next time I remember panicking was when I missed school on the day my first grade class typically went to the library, meaning I couldn’t return the book I’d checked out the week before. My mom tried reasoning with me, explaining that I could return it the next day. I wouldn’t have it. This was not a time to be calm. This was time to worry, incessantly.

When I was seven, I fretted over what I would talk to high school girls about when I became a teenager. The idea that my brain and thoughts would mature along with my physical stature escaped me, and I was quite troubled by the obvious fact that high school girls weren’t interested in Cabbage Patch dolls, but Cabbage Patch dolls were, like, my whole life, and what would I say when we met at our lockers, and now that I think of it, I’m really worried about having a locker because WHAT IF I FORGET THE COMBINATION?

Anxiety Locker

In high school my nerves eased up a bit thanks to heavy drinking and a general lack of concern over anything remotely important in life. Then, due to a somewhat fanatical conversion to Christianity . . .

Anxiety Jesus

the nerves stayed quiet. A few years later, I met Benson, we got married, and for ten years everything was cool.

But three years ago, they came back.

It was in the midst of a move, and the combination of having a lot of writing work (which is my dream job) plus scheduling movers (to move us into a fancy house with granite counters and who on earth am I to stress about moving into a HOUSE? I have a HOUSE. I do not live in the STREET.) and finalizing our mortgage (with a low rate because we actually own MONEY. We are not dependent upon payday lenders or selling our children on the black market) threw me over the edge and into a panic attack.

Here’s something I’ve noticed. My problems never match my anxiety. Like, if my problem is a .02 out of ten on a normal “What’s Stressful About Life?” scale, my anxiety will be at an 8. Case in point: I freaked out on one of those healthy living challenges (as chronicled here). It was a VOLUNTARY challenge. (I’d like to take this moment to apologize to every human living below the poverty line for my breakdown concerning VOLUNTARILY restricting my diet. I hope things get better for y’all, I really do.)

Anxiety Chart

So for the past three years, about once every few months, I get worked up and it feels like someone’s tied a belt around my sternum. Then I clutch my chest for half an hour trying to calm myself down. The dogs sniff me, wondering if I’ve died.

I have some tricks I use to combat the ol’ anxiety. Stay tuned. You’re anxiously waiting on my next post, right? (Get it?)


Categories: Lifestyle

4 replies

  1. I promise you every reader over a certain age has a word in mind to help you, Christina, and they all end in –epam or –lam. As In alprazolam, clonazepam, lorazepam. Go to a doctor and get some meds. I imagine you’re meds-averse but just try it.

  2. Last weekend I had anxiety because I was laying on the couch watching TV. “It’s just that I’m SURE I’m supposed to be doing SOMETHING!” Needless to say the hubby had a good laugh at that one….


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