The Screaming Fire Baby

  Imagine someone shoves a baby made of molten lava at you. You are not allowed to drop the baby.

The baby is screaming.

It’s also on fire.

Now, try to go through your day holding this screaming fire baby. Imagine too, that you must hide the baby from everyone you come into contact with during the day. If you’re lucky, you can find something to distract yourself from the howling lava thing. But it’s always there.

It’s really effing hard to feel confident, energetic, or focused when you are taking care of that Screaming Fire Baby.

That’s about what it feels like for me when I am having an anxiety attack.

I’ve had a generalized anxiety disorder for most of my life. It started in late middle school, probably around the time I was getting bullied at school. My first full-fledged Screaming Fire Baby experience was in seventh grade.

For a long time, people said different things about it.

“Oh, she’s not good with change.”

“She’s homesick.”


“Too sensitive.”

“Drama queen.”

This is probably how I learned that it’s important to hide the SFB from the general public. Nobody wants to deal with my stupid problems anyway.

When I tell people, “I’m having a panic attack,” the response is usually to back away slowly. Because mental illness is catching, right? Or they say something along the lines of, “Everything is fine! Just breathe!” What I want to say is, “No, motherfucker, things are most definitely NOT FINE.” I get it. They can’t see the Screaming Fire Baby. They have never held a Screaming Fire Baby. They don’t know what to do. And they’re like, “Good luck with that thing. Come see me when you’re normal again.”

Several years ago, my GP convinced me to take an SSRI and it was life-changing. No more Screaming Fire Baby! Finally, I could have a life and be happy. YOU probably take your Happy for granted. You probably have a Normal Happy. I didn’t. Then I did. Now I don’t any more.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to go off my medications (for reasons I’ll save for a post later). And now the SFB is back. I’m thankfully past the part where I literally want to cry EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND. That I’m awake. But I’m on edge, I can’t sleep, and I’m always two steps from a crying mess.

I think it’s important to talk about these things, and lately I’ve appreciated things like and actor Wil Wheaton’s discussions of his own depression. So there you go. I hope you don’t have to deal with a Screaming Fire Baby. 


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