What It Costs To Have Anxiety

Most people can never truly understand the currency of anxiety. Each letter typed is worth about 3 negative thoughts. Now before you get worried about the negative-thought-to-word conversion rate, perhaps wait for me to lay it out below. And if you’re that concerned, maybe it’s because you would like to know what the conversation will leave you with in your own struggle?

Here’s the going rate:

Having to make a decision will place you into insurmountable debt and publicly declaring an opinion will definitely make you bankrupt. To avoid losing in the conversion, attempt converting anxiety into joy first whenever possible. That’s the only true counter-currency—positive thinking—consistently thwarting illogical, circular thinking with positive, reinforcing thought. Since anxiety has high inflation, sometimes positive thoughts will feel like they are impossible to earn, ensuring, once again, the victory of anxiety.

Let me walk you through the math in more detail.


These sentences I am writing have to break through many negative thoughts just decorate the blank screen.

Every simple word feels like a triumph. That excitement reinforces my overall capacity for joy (positivity) and suddenly a whole sentence is out. Then a paragraph.

Anxiety will come collect later though, usually by isolating me from my friends and loved ones for at least 20 minutes, so that I can truly stew in my fear. I'll mark all of the things that still don't meet my ever-high standard. Noted adjectives that I could have made more colorful will add another 5 minutes to the debt. Misspelling a word and not catching it in spellcheck will undoubtedly evoke a memory of my mother telling me that I will unlikely be able to ever amount to anything worthwhile.

How about a scenario , where the conversation is taking place face-to-face? I can’t possibly enjoy friendly banter. That will send me to jail.

In addition, my anxiety market's gold standard is determined and reinforced by post-traumatic stress disorder. Having a flashback might buy me 14 minutes of reassurance from loved ones that I’m are alright. That’s enough of a return, right?  Since after each flashback there is a period of reacquainting myself with actual surroundings, i.e. reminding myself that I am not longer in said flashback, I get another 14 minutes to spend appreciating things like breathing instead of hyperventilating.

It’s a sale. My brain will also throw-in the affirmation that my mother’s past words no longer affect me as an adult. You’re welcome it says, like I’m getting the better end of the deal.

Other things cost moments of my life I will never get back, and I remember them all. I think of one and anxiety is sure to send them all swirling back: The job I kept because I didn’t believe I could get a better one. The relationship I stayed in, even though I know I was not in love. The home I remained in because I was hoping things would get better. Anxiety is sure to remind me to really mull these over and feel bad that there is nothing I can change now.

So yeah, I can get 100 words, 10 minutes of peaceful writing time. For that I will pay in editing. Everything is stupid and why do you even think anyone will read this, says anxiety. The twentieth re-write still isn’t good enough, so I quit writing, although it’s all I ever wanted to do.

So where does that leave me? Here’s the final math: all of this will result in about 2 minutes of a reader’s time. 3, if I’m lucky and something makes them read to the end.

Anxiety is exhausting. It feels like doing algebra blindfolded while riding a horse. It’s like trying to understand the stock market, only to lose all your money when you finally have the bravery to get in.

No, there is no real conversation rate. But having one would make having anxiety so much easier. Imagine you knew how many good things will happen in your life if you just worry a certain amount? But anxiety doesn’t work that way. In truth, all worrying creates, is inaction.

Now pardon me, I need to re-read and edit this at least five more times. Hopefully I can make it worth 5 minutes of your time, even though it will cost me at least 20 minutes of self-deprecation later.


Header Photo by Tristan Gassert on Unsplash
Meme from Office Space
Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash