Anxiety, Life In General

Crippling Nostalgia

I did a quick google search to see if “crippling nostalgia” made any sense. To my surprise, there were actually other people out there who not only felt the same way I do, but also used the words “crippling nostalgia” to describe it. I guess I’m not so witty after all. 

It probably doesn’t take a genius to figure out what I mean by crippling nostalgia. I’m not over-exaggerating either; this is not hyperbole. My nostalgia is indeed crippling. When I talk about nostalgia, I don’t mean “Oh man, I really miss the N64! What great times.” Or, “Aww, remember when we used to play Mario Party 5 together for hours without a care in the world?” No, my nostalgia is a lot darker than that.

I have been this way my entire life. Now, I long for the “simple” times when I was a kid (the funny thing is, although I had an awesome childhood, it was also riddled with significantly more anxiety than my adult life, paired with a life threatening eating disorder!) When I was a teenager and was literally depressed over the fact that I was growing up, my mom would constantly remind me that my childhood was hard. It wasn’t carefree, it was definitely not anxiety-free…it was hard. And yet, I still longed for those times.

When I was a kid, I would experience crippling nostalgia for the times when I was even younger. For example, when I was about SIX years old – yes, six years old – I began hysterically crying thinking about the fact that I would soon outgrow my favourite TV shows and silly games I played with my mom (I thought I was so old).

When I was a teenager, I longed for my “easy” childhood. Now, I find myself swinging back and forth between missing my childhood and my teenage years – both of which were not that great. I was horribly depressed during high school and hated everything about that weird, hormonal period in my life. My childhood was definitely fun, but I was not an easygoing kid and it was a rough time in my life too. Right now is actually, logically speaking, the best time in my life. I have freedom, my anxiety is mostly under control, and I have what I’ve always wanted – a loving husband, a little home, a job working from said home, and my very own dog!

And yet, I can’t stop living in the past. I constantly live in the past, wishing to relive days of old. When I’m not drowning in nostalgia, I’m worried about the future, demonizing it. I idolize the past and demonize the future, but the present disappears.

Of course, I am generalizing right now. I try my best to “enjoy the moment” and live out other clichés, but this is a deeply ingrained pattern of thought that will take a long time to change. My nostalgia makes me feel depressed. It makes me wish I could time travel. It makes me realize I will never, ever, get to experience those things ever again.

And I should be okay with that. I want to be okay with that. I really, really want to be okay with right now.

So, instead of remembering the times my cousins and I spent hours wading in the tiny plastic pool in my childhood yard, or the time when my two best friends made the grossest green ice cream but ate it anyway at my 13th birthday party, or all the times my mom and I played badminton in the backyard on late summer nights…I’ll enjoy my warm little brown dog sleeping next to me as I type this. I’ll think about my little house and I’ll do my best to be here, right now, instead of stuck in my long gone memories.

4 thoughts on “Crippling Nostalgia”

  1. Funny enough this blog post came up since i googled the same term… I figured other people must have the same thing. Sorry for commenting on such an old post, but hey! Haha.
    I read the whole thing, and man… I relate to so much of it. I remember being 12 years old and standing in the driveway of my parents house, my neighbors were running around playing. I was the oldest kid in the neighborhood group. at that moment I had this realization “this is the last summer i will ever have fun. it’s over now.” and… I was right. from that point on I was depressed. I missed everything. I cried all the time, over the smallest things, like looking at an old toy or the weather. Even when I was younger then that I would take photos of everything because I knew it was all going to go away forever. I can’t figure out why I am like this.

    I’m 32 now and most people I meet have no concept of how strange this feels. A lot of time has passed since I was 12 and realizing that something was ending. But even this afternoon I cried about the fact that I feel a void within myself and seems impossible to fill. I can’t figure it out. Maybe I am remembering a time when that void wasn’t so obvious and gaping? I don’t know. Anyhow, thanks for writing this. I’m not “glad” you understand, but I’m glad you wrote about it so I don’t feel like I’m the only person. Its not just a passing thing, it’s been a part of my life for a very long time. it sounds like you are the same way.

    anyhow, have a good day!

    1. Hi Rachel!

      This is crazy! I seriously thought (at first) that no one else had ever felt this way. It is hard to understand and I think somewhat related to existential anxiety. I feel generally better about this as an adult, but still sometimes go through really intense periods of ‘crippling nostalgia’ and if I focus too much on it, it can make me SUPER depressed/anxious :( Sorry you also have to deal with this!

  2. Oh man i just looked it up too because im serieslly sitten here after watching old thailand and japan videos i started remembering thos years i was there and sure enough i got some hard core crippling depressions and was thinking to myself is crippling nostagia even a thing and now here i am.

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