Anxiety, My Terrible Roommate

This is the kind of shit that Simon tells me. Except about everything. Source.

You still haven’t started that paper. You forgot to send that email again. What’s wrong with you? You haven’t done the dishes in a week. When are you going to write your aunt back? I can’t believe you said that stupid thing at work today. You better call the dog in. Are you ever going to start that paper?

So goes the monologue that so often takes over my mind, and that’s on the good days. I’ve posted before about my experience with anxiety and obsessive thinking. I recently stumbled upon a strange method for getting a little distance form it. I named it Simon.

I got this odd notion from an episode of On Being (one of my favorite podcasts) with pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. She explained,

I named my depression Frances because it was like a really bad roommate who would never leave. And at the time when I really suffered from depression, it was when Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love had their child named Frances Bean, and so I named my — at the time they named their child, I named my depression Frances.

But I always pictured her more like Courtney Love, kind of emaciated in a vintage nightgown with like smeared lipstick and a gin bottle and a cigarette. Like that was Courtney. I mean, that was Frances, my depression. And like at first, she was kind of interesting to hang out with, but then she just never moved out.

Something just clicked when I heard this. Of course! All this time I’ve been observing my thoughts, knowing myself as the awareness, not the thinking/thinker. But it’s damn hard to remember when the dust-devil swirls in. What better way to disidentify from my obsessive thinking than to give it a name?

So I named it Simon. I picture him vividly: a skinny, scrawny boy of 18 or 19, with messy black hair and wire-frame glasses. I feel like he’s my younger cousin or something, and for some reason, I’m expected to live with him. Simon is the kind of roommate who leaves his dirty socks on the floor and eats the leftovers you were saving. Simon has strong opinions on matters on which he is utterly uninformed. Simon believes everything will go wrong and he wants me to know it.

Naming Simon has sparked something of a revolution in my mind. That evening, all my anxious thoughts were suddenly in sharp relief, obvious in their absurdity and complete uselessness. Shut the fuck up, Simon, I though to myself over and over. In the few weeks since this happened, my anxiety has plummeted. Best of all, whenever it rears its ugly head, it is easily shot down. I wouldn’t put up with this crap from a roommate; there’s no need to put up with it from myself, either.

No more Simon Says.

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5 comments

  1. Lesboi

    After some thought, my anxiety’s name is Eva. That’s my mother’s name. I wrote down all of the stuff that my anxious mind spits out at me and every one of them are Eva’s Rules and my fear of breaking them. Now I can just tell Eva to be quiet and remind her that she was wrong about just about everything in my life. Brilliant idea by the way. Thanks.

    • rimonim

      Thank you for sharing, and I’m so glad this idea was helpful in quieting the voice. Simon is the spitting image of my dad as a young man, and it’s not a coincidence.

  2. Tamelonie Thomas

    This is such a great idea! The task of naming our ailments begins to humanize it! When we humanize this disorder that takes a hold of us we begin to humanize ourselves. We stop thinking of the ailment as this mental object, but as a person that we can dismiss like we dismiss a human being out of a room!

  3. Alice

    Naming it, picturing it, personifying it–I have found this such a crucial step in separating (and valuing) myself apart from all the damaged parts and distorted thought patterns in my head. “Simon” is such a vivid portrayal, and I’m glad you’re not letting him eat all your leftovers any more!
    Best, alice

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