“Am I a fool? I don’t think I’m a fool. But I think I sure was fooled.” – Kenneth Lay
This year, I almost got through April Fools without incident. That is, until about 6:00pm, when I received a text message from my boyfriend (who happens to be a pharmacist at a children’s hospital) that explained that he was involved in a medicine error that caused a child serious brain damage and could have cost him his job and license. Looking back, this was probably hysterical as I texted him asking if everything was okay and then sent a slew of expletive-riddled tirades about how mean he is after he broke the news that it was all a joke. I mean, any logical person would have probably seen through his ruse because how likely was a 1-in-a-million error like this to happen on April Fools Day.
However, there is something different with an anxiety brain. Instead of thinking “oh, he must be joking”, I immediately jumped past the thought of April Fools and started running through every worst case scenario in my head- how would I support us both financially? What about the dreams that we have created together? How can I manage my depression and the inevitable depression that would come from a situation like this? What if he becomes suicidal?
As I sat in my living room- waiting for the punchline, my stomach twisted into knots, I felt like I would vomit, and I started breathing exercises to avoid a full-blown panic attack. None of this is logical, yet it is something that I experience often. An email that come across as scolding, a text message that seems too short, or a frustrated glance can trigger feelings of anxiety- what did I do wrong? Is there something wrong with me? Is everyone mad at me? Am I annoying? April Fools Day is my least favorite day throughout the year, as it seems to play into my anxious mind and thus turns me into a hot mess express headed towards dysfunction junction.
My poor, sweet, amazing boyfriend then felt the needs to apologize over and over again, as he never intended to trigger my anxiety. He felt bad that he upset me; I felt bad that he was feeling bad. This amazing human being, who supports me through thick and thin, loves me for all of me, and tries his best to understand my mental illness, tried to play a little joke that (on anyone else) would have been hilarious and my anxious brain turned the entire thing into an ordeal.
One positive thing has come from this whole experience- forgiveness. Although salty for a few hours, I did forgive the datemate for freaking me out. He forgave me for the harsh things I said in a state of anxiety. But most importantly, I forgave myself. Many times I have found myself replaying similar situations and getting angry at myself for being overreactive or overemotional. I have anxiety- it is going to cause some awkward situations, but that’s okay. My anxious brain doesn’t control me- I can forgive myself and I can live a life bigger than my mental illness.