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“For me, it’s always like this”

In last week’s blog post, I wondered why I wasn’t an anxiety ridden mess in the face of a pandemic and mass hysteria despite my mental health issues. I concluded that it might be due to already living through several viral outbreaks or having dealt with the insanity and chaos that is Black Friday in my line of retail work. It didn’t occur to me until I read a couple memes on Facebook that the actual reason for being so calm despite my anxiety is because I live with anxiety. What a weird paradox.

It’s been interesting to watch how the general population is feeling a lot of the same things people with anxiety feel on a daily basis and how people with anxiety, including myself, have been strangely calm in a situation that has caused mass panic within the general population. One thing that comes to my mind when thinking about this is Silent Hill 2. The titular town is host to an alternate reality called the Otherworld, which appears different to each person as Otherworld is typically a representation of a person’s mind. During the events of the game, the player gets to see how the Otherworld appears to the characters Eddie and Angela. For Angela, the world’s design and monsters are representative sexual abuse at the hands of her father and brother and possibly the anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies that she exhibits throughout the game. When James meets Angela for the last time within her Otherworld, everything is suddenly on fire. As she leaves, James comments “It’s hot as Hell in here” and Angela, realizing that James can see and feel the flames, stops to say, “You see it, too? For me, it’s always like this.” She walks into the fire unscathed. This is her reality and she’s used to the heat, but James isn’t so he’ll get burned by the flames if the player tries to follow her. 

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The scene on the blazing staircase in Silent Hill 2 is similar to the situation with Coronavirus. Essentially, the general population is James Sunderland going “Oh my God…everything is suddenly on fucking fire!” and people with anxiety are Angela Orosco realizing he can feel the fire she experiences all the time. Like James seeing Angela’s Otherworld, the reality of people who live with anxiety is seeping into other people’s realities. Due to Coronavirus, the general masses are in a state of panic, fear, and helplessness while wondering when the impending doom they’re feeling is going to hit the fan. This is not normal for the general population, but for those with anxiety and other mental health issues like me, this is our default mode. We experience crisis on a regular basis thanks to anxiety making us feel things so intensely–sometimes so intensely that we have panic attacks that make us feel like we’re dying. We’re already used to our brains overstimulating our anxiety with thoughts of worst-case, world-ending scenarios so an actual crisis like Coronavirus doesn’t freak us out as much as it has the general population. So while normal people are buying up all the soup and toilet paper in a panic thinking they’re going to die and the world is ending, those with anxiety are basically sitting in the fire around them going, “It’s always like this.”

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