One time my ex boyfriend, Cameron, was helping me create my Halloween costume. I was a mermaid, and we were hot glueing seashells to different pieces to make a purse, bra, and different accessories. When we were hot glueing the shells to my shirt, some glue dripped and landed on my skin. It burned, of course, and my first instinct was to wipe it off, so I did, with my hand. Now I was burnt in two places (my hip and my fingers). I was very scared as it hurt a lot.
Cameron had his first aid training and had ran upstairs to grab things to help with the burn, and he returned with bandaids, polysporin, a damp towel, and a couple of other things. That was when I made a request that Cameron did not understand: I did not want him to put polysporin on my burn.
I took the towel from him and held it to my burns, and asked him if he had any vaseline. I had been burned many, many times before as a child, and all we ever did was cool it down, apply vaseline, and wrap it in paper towel. I had never used polysporin before, and I was scared. I refused to let him apply polysporin, and he did not have enough vaseline to cover my burns. He kept telling me that vaseline does not help, and that polysporin will. I believed him, but I couldn’t bring myself to let him do anything.
We had gone up to the washroom, and he sat down and I sat on his lap. We stayed that way for a very long time while I held the damp towel to my skin. The entire time, I was building myself up to let him apply polysporin to my burns. I knew I was being ridiculous, and I knew he was trying to help, and I knew that he had much more knowledge than I did. But I could not bring myself to let him do what he needed to do to help me.
“I knew I was overreacting. I knew that he was trying to help. But I couldn’t convince myself to let him.”
That’s what anxiety is like. You know that you have anxiety, you know you’re overreacting, and you know that other people are trying to help. You know what’s best for you, and yet your mind just does not let any of those things calm you down. I cried the day that I got burnt. Not because it hurt, but because I knew that what Cameron was trying to do would help me, and that I couldn’t let him. And what a silly reason to panic, because someone was applying something to my skin that I had never used before. And I know that, and I did while it was happening. But when you have anxiety, your mind doesn’t work the same way.