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humor mental health

Crankxiety

Dry means dry, I think to myself, as I watch a big metal cylinder flip my clothes around and around. I’m frowning, arms crossed, in a July-hot laundromat in Chesterton, Indiana. The husband thinks that dry means done, which means he takes clothes out of the dryer when he’s tired of waiting for them, even if the necks of my t-shirts and the toes of my socks are still damp. How wrong he is to not understand that dry means dry! How frustrating when he does things wrong! I watch myself agitate, feel my shoulders and jaw turn to gravel. At that moment, dear reader, the husband is six hundred miles away. His laundry misdemeanor occurred a week earlier.

Cranxiety: the crunchy combination of grumpiness and worry.

Everywhere I go, cranky mixes with anxious into a new kind of miserable. On a hushed mountain morning, the husband walks by as I write, on his way to the kitchen for a cup of tea. His footsteps and the kettle’s hissing jolt me into worry that I can’t write, not now, probably not ever again. Why can’t he just be in the other room until I’m done? And why must I be so ill-tempered?

Crankxiety is what happens in my head when the wifi goes out. Where does the wifi go when it goes out? When will it come back? I ruminate on how wrong I am wrong to focus on what is wrong. I am supposed to be sweet, happy, and productive. I am not supposed to flip out when the husband makes tea or the wifi goes for a walk.

Cranxiety is part of what led me to re-start therapy last spring. A few weeks in, I got into an argument with my therapist. Jenny-Lynn, he said to me, so kindly that you would have thought he was a nice person. Hot tears were streaming down my face. Damp tissues were wadded in my left hand. Jenny-Lynn, he said, it is all right to feel. My objection was immediate and visceral—opposition from my toe joints all the way to the hardest part of my skull. I only wanted know why I was crying so I could stop. But I didn’t know why, and I couldn’t stop, and for some reason, I hated that he told me it was okay.

For me, anxiety is a despairing and physical need for everything to be different, inside and outside myself. It is a belly churning worry over the past and the future, including how much worse the anxiety might get, and how much crankier it might make me.

A few days after my laundromat diatribe, I tell my doctor, Crankxiety is a new circle of hell. She nods sympathetically as she fills my first-ever prescription for an anti-depressant. I’m not depressed, I report, I am just miserably irritable. Eight weeks after starting a low dose anti-depressant, crankxiety still rears its ugly head, but its talons don’t grip my belly for hours or days at a time. I can shrug and go on with my next, more helpful thought. I don’t have to be different, and neither does anyone else. These days, I say to myself, Jenny-Lynn, it’s all right to feel sad. It’s all right to feel anxious. More than anything, I feel more like myself, complaining and sweet in turn, and just exactly good enough.

By Jenny-Lynn

Jenny-Lynn is a former psychotherapist living in Denver and in South Park, Colorado. Her essays have appeared in The Colorado Sun, Pithead Chapel, and Dreamer's Creative Writing. She blogs at themoreiwrite.net and can be found on Instagram @writeriderepeat.

10 replies on “Crankxiety”

“When she was good, she was very, very good. And when she was bad, she was horrid!” I’m not sure why this always has to be about a girl/woman. Males are certainly good and horrid in turns as well. I’m glad you’re coming towards some balance with this. Join the club.

Wonderful writing, open, honest and amusing (as we all should be).

Liked by 1 person

Crankxiety is a marvelous invention. I’ve got that. I can hear women everywhere repeating: I’ve got that! Touching, vivid, honest description of the crisis and taking action to deal with it, and remembering what we seem to have to learn over and over again, that it is O.K. to feel.

Liked by 1 person

I’m so grateful to you for so many things… and now, a new word!!
I’ve NEEDED this word.
Your writing— so smoooshed close to the gut. I love it.

Liked by 1 person

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