tomhanksrph: a guide sort of thing—anxiety.
So I figured I’d write up a little something on anxiety since I’ve seen it very poorly portrayed before in RPs. Note: this is all from my own experience with my anxiety, and completely my opinion.
So you’ve got a character with anxiety, eh? What I would do is get a physical piece of paper in front of you with a nice ink pen. Ancient materials, I know. Write out a few head canons for your character that you already know/have developed. Got it? Good. Now, you’ve just thrown anxiety into the big soup pot of your character’s development. What does this mean? Let us analyze.
- Why does your character have anxiety? What triggered their anxiety? Was it a certain event like a death, rape, or injury? Was it accumulated from multiple conversations? Figure out if there was one certain action that pulled a trigger for their anxiety, or if it’s always been an integral part of their life.
- Decide how the anxiety will manifest itself in your character. Will your character avoid certain activities because it reminds them of “that event”? Will they avoid socializing because they are too self-conscious that whatever they say will be wrong? Is it a social anxiety? How does it effect their test-taking skills? If their anxiety is really bad, it probably results in poor grades. If your character is out of high school, keep in mind that they may have all the book-knowledge that a straight-A student might have, but their performance on tests would not show it. What I’m saying is this: the grades of a person with anxiety don’t reflect the knowledge of that person well.
- Tweak your headcanons to fit the information you’ve just developed. It’s important to make sure your character is consistent. Anxious people typically don’t exude bounds of self-confidence. In fact, they may be a total recluse because they aren’t confident in their social skills, or they are ashamed of their lack of accomplishments. (The lack of accomplishments resulting from the limits their anxiety holds them under.)
- Consider how it effects your character’s overall personality. Do they have a stutter? Do they always wear baggy clothing? Do they sit in the back of the rooms, trying to be a wallflower? Do they drink themselves into a depression, wallowing in self-pity? Do they procrastinate? Are they perfectionists who are consistently frustrated with themselves for being less than their exceedingly high expectations?
I hope this helps you in some way. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember, and I don’t label it a disorder or a disease. I just look at it as an impediment. Granted everything I do is always double-checked and reviewed as I bite my nails, but after a while the butterflies in your stomach don’t bother you.
Another thing to consider is this: anxiety is a predisposition to other diseases. I know my frustration in school and social lives that resulted from my ADHD and anxiety caused me to suffer from an eating disorder, as well as self-harm issues, including being suicidal (over incessant things like failing one English test). You have to be aware that anxious people sometimes are crippled not only by anxiety, but also by paranoia, and they are very sensitive to negative feedback. Anxious characters can easily slip into insane or unstable characters if triggering events occur.
Well, I hope this helped someone. I don’t even know if it makes sense, but then again, I’m a nutcase of problems and I’m trying to share a little bit on anxiety without spilling out the whole disaster that I am IRL.
Thanks for reading! -tomhanksrph