Ms Ritzer looked like an old tree stump, sturdy and wrinkled, as she stood in front of the overflowing lecture hall. It seemed to me that she, as she stared at us with her stern, joyless face, that she was about to impart some great pearl of wisdom.
We all tend to think psychiatrists know a great deal more about the world and the human condition than we do. That’s why the room rang with silence as every one of my classmates waited eagerly, folded forward in their seats, for her to say something profound.
“Anxiety, you see, is all in the head,” she said finally. I risked a sidelong glance at my friend, Lee, who had thrown herself back in her seat, arms crossed.
I risked a sidelong glance at my friend, Lee, who had thrown herself back in her seat, arms crossed.
Ms Ritzer continued, “You know why people have anxiety? It’s because they’re living too much in the future…”
I didn’t hear her finish that sentence because I had to unwrap my scarf. The room was suddenly getting warmer. Besides, I was finding it hard to hear her. There seemed to be a buzzing in the room.
“A good cure for anxiety is to get a hobby, like cooking. I find it so relaxing -“
My fingers started to tingle as I tapped them impatiently on the wooden desk. Why was the temperature rising? Was I the only one noticing the air getting thicker?
“You can come see me after class if you’d like me to share some recipes.”
Lee tapped my shoulder. She was trying to say something, something important. Her eyes looked like two big marbles staring at me. Only, I couldn’t hear her. I couldn’t even move. So, I stared straight ahead, silent, shaking, as all the blood rushed to my head.
[Anxiety is not something that just goes away. It is not simply stress or nerves. It is a potentially debilitating disorder that can adversely a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks and comments like the ones made by the psychiatrist in the story are not helpful. These sorts of statements perpetuate the misconception that certain mental illness can just be gotten over. This is not the case and while a new hobby may help a person cope with a mental illness, it is by no means a cure.]