When you live with anxiety, it can be difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of the condition and all of the bullshit going on around you. I
frequently occasionally find myself asking, “Is this person being a jackass—or am I irritated because of my anxiety disorder?” (Sometimes it’s a tough call.)
Combine anxiety with depression, and those two jerks regularly have me paralyzed, wanting to complete a task but lacking the required energy. Unable to string together coherent thoughts. Unable to approach normal social situations with any grace (if I even make it out the door at all). Unable to function in the afternoon. Well, except binge-watching Netflix. I can always do that.
But sometimes, just sometimes, anxiety isn’t a complete asshole.
Recently I opened my spice cabinet and encountered the kind of disaster you’d see on an episode of Hoarders. Bottles crammed into every available space. Petrified herbs. Duplicate spices. Random oils used once to accommodate someone’s diet and then promptly forgotten. My shelves were puking the contents out the door.
Anxiety: Well, would you look at that. What a fucking mess. We should really clean out this cabinet.
Depression: Seriously? I just wanted some salt for my popcorn. Can we not do this right now? Please?
Anxiety: Maybe there are expired oils in there. Did you know that rancid oils contain free radicals, and those can lead to cancer? You want us all to die?
Depression: We’re all going to die eventually. Doesn’t a nap sound much better to you? I’m so tired. You look so tired too. We could snuggle?
Anxiety: But what if one of the spice bottles falls on the ground and smashes into a million teeny tiny pieces and even though we try to get them all the dog steps on one and gets a flesh wound and then the bloody gash festers and rots until gangrene sets in and we need to amputate his foot? What then?
Depression: Awww, I love our puppies. Let’s go cuddle with the puppies on the bed.
Anxiety: FOCUS. WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE DOGS BY SCOURING THIS CABINET. WE CANNOT SLEEP.
Depression: Fine, we can clean the cabinet. But just the one.
So Anxiety won, and I got to work cleaning. I pulled out the first spice bottle and a few came tumbling with it. Fortunately, none shattered on the floor. After I pulled everything out, I started reading labels. I found some spices that were older than my kids (ages 11 and 14). But this spice, this one takes the cake. (Sadly, there was no cake in the cabinet.)
It has a sell by date of 1995, which probably means I bought it in 1992 or 1993. It’s older than my and Mr. Foxy’s romance. And probably tastes like dirt. Actually, dirt is probably more flavorful than this bottle of dust. Also, what the fuck is marjoram anyhow? And why did I buy it over twenty years ago? What was I cooking—besides ramen and mac n’ cheese?
Purging the old spices and oils felt so good. Then I wiped down the shelves. And started organizing like a mo-fo.
I CATEGORIZED and ALPHABETIZED my spices, people. Who even does that? I do, apparently, given enough unchanneled anxiety.
Of course, I saved the fossilized marjoram as a badge of honor. Or maybe as a reminder to clean out the spice cabinet more often.
I’m not gonna lie—I love my newly cleaned cabinet. Turns out, anxiety wasn’t so bad in this case. Now I’m just waiting for this anxiety-induced productivity to kick in on the rest of the house. But maybe I’ll take a nap first.