Twin of the Day — Penny: I’ve spent most of my life struggling to overcome a crippling anxiety – my own personal Anxiety Whack-A-Mole that includes sleepwalking, claustrophobia, nocturnal panic attacks, and OCD. My anxious disposition was evident as early as age three. — On summer evenings, we’d drive out to the country to get “real” ice cream. Despite my deep affection for frozen treats, I’d often beg my dad to turn around before we reached the end of our street. Around the same age, I’d run inside the house if a stiff wind caught my breath. ——— My twin girls are only three months old, and it’s already clear that Penny takes after dad (anxiety), and Clementine after mom (depression). I was trying to keep this revelation from Penelope, but someone tipped her off.
“Daddy, who’s Dean Jr?”
“I know the truth, daddy. You and mommy have been referring to me as “Dean Jr” behind my back.”
“Oh sweetie, it’s nothing. — Just a playful way of saying that you have some of daddy’s traits.”
“What traits, daddy? Your smile? Your devastating cheekbones? — Or maybe your crippling anxiety!”
“Well, mostly the former, but yes… your expressions and mannerisms remind me of myself.”
“So, I’m doomed to a life in shackles?”
“What? No, sweetie. Not at all.
“Daddy, I don’t believe you. — I need to see a psychiatrist, ASAP!
“And what exactly will he or she be treating, sweetie?”
“My shitty genes!”
“Sweetie, even if you have “shitty” genes, it does NOT mean that you have an inescapable future. — Environment also plays a big role.”
“Like air pollution and clean water?”
“Well… maybe. — But I’m referring to the circumstances of your upbringing. For example, I was sleepwalking at age 5. According to my mom these sleepwalking episodes would occur during periods of strife between my dad and her. — Usually about his compulsive gambling.
“OMG! It’s that simple? — If you and mommy fight all of the time, I’m gonna develop OCD?”
“Yes and no, sweetie… it definitely increases the odds.
“Wow! That’s a relief, daddy. I have nothing to worry about! — You and mommy never argue.”
“Well sweetie, it’s not that simple. — My dad died when I was 13. To be honest, it was a mixed blessing. After years of struggling to stay afloat and relying on charity, we could finally afford to live the lower-middle-class lifestyle that his pension was meant to provide. — But his death ultimately triggered my OCD.”
“That’s sad, daddy. BUT on the bright side… I’m not worried about your health. You’re in your prime! — But all the same, you could stand to lose a few pounds… maybe you should cut out ice cream.
“Look who’s talking, sweetie. — Have you seen your sausage arms?”
“Ouch! Low blow, daddy! — I’m doing my best! Maybe you should start giving me more tummy time!”
“Look, sweetie. — Worst case scenario. Let’s assume that you start experiencing extreme anxiety… medication should be the last resort. I overcame most of my issues without the aid of prescription drugs.”
“Yes, but at what cost, daddy? You struggled in school, and failed to reach your potential … because you were too busy counting ceiling tiles.”
“That’s true, sweetie. — OCD can be disabling. I had an assortment of daily rituals that interfered with every aspect of my life. — But that’s because I kept it hidden from my family, and it went unchecked for 10 years. People didn’t really talk about OCD back then.”
“That’s all well and good, daddy. But the world has changed in many ways… it’s more competitive. — I need every advantage I can get!”
“So, you’re looking to use prescription drugs to get ahead in life?
“Well, sweetie. I can understand that. But you’re too young to experiment with drugs. — It could affect your brain chemistry and stunt your development.”
“That’s a good point, daddy, But what if I already have a chemical imbalance? — Studies indicate that if left untreated, I’ll have a greater risk of Alzheimer’s later in life.”
“Alzheimer’s?! You haven’t even developed short-term memory.”
“Who knows, maybe that’s because I already have Alzheimer’s!
“Sweetie, if you don’t have a problem, it’s best not to tinker. Drugs have unintended consequences. — I had a friend who had a serious anger problem, especially when he drank… he’d get violent and break things. Then we convinced him to try Prozac. — And it worked! When he drank, instead of getting violent… he’d strip naked and run through the streets.
“Sounds fun, daddy! Let’s roll the dice and see what happens!”
“You’re missing my point, sweetie. — Streaking in exchange for violence is an acceptable trade off. — You don’t have any problems to trade.”
“But I cry all the time daddy. Isn’t that a problem? — Don’t pretend it doesn’t bother you.”
“To be honest, it’s really annoying, sweetie. But crying is just a part of being a baby.”
“Maybe it doesn’t have to be. Maybe I’m not supposed to be this way. We may not even know who the real Penny is!”
“Sweetie, the role of psychiatry is to treat problems — not to tinker with personalities.”
“But I hate myself, daddy.”
“Sweetie, you’re a beautiful, charming, intelligent young lady — Dare I say a genius… capable of anything that you set your mind to.”
“Daddy, you’re just trying to stroke my ego. — And I like it! Keep it up and maybe… just maybe… I won’t need drugs.”
“That’s right, sweetie. Unconditional love is the greatest drug of all.”
“Right, daddy… unconditional love. — And Adderall.