I’m having an anxiety attack in Beirut. I know I’m having an anxiety attack because I thought I was having a heart attack but when I googled my symptoms it said I was having anxiety instead.

It occurred to me that Beirut is probably the best place on earth to have an anxiety attack because there are so many reasons to be anxious. Elsewhere, you might say, “Oh I’m freaking out,” and people will look at you with pity in their eyes and laughter in their heads.

“There, there,” they’ll say. “The dog next door isn’t plotting to attack you in your sleep.” Here, the attitude about anxiety is more along the lines of: well, it’s about time you had some anxiety, ya3ne, I was worried you were dead there for a second.

Just in case you’re in the mood to have an anxiety attack, I’ve compiled a list of questions for us all to think about.

1. Do you see any trees outside?

2. Do you think that one tree is enough to offset all the pollution from even one car?

3. Is that car about to hit you?

4. Do you hear that cat meowing? Do you realize it’s stuck in the motor of a car?

5. Do you see the men building that high-rise over there?

6. Is there a giant piece of plaster about to fall on your head?

7. Can you even hear what I’m saying over all the noise of the construction jackhammering?

8. Is your building going to collapse today?

9. How much money do you make?

10. How much does a chai latte at Urbanista cost?

11. How often do you drink a chai latte at Urbanista?

12. Can you spare a measly three dollars to help out some poor refugee mother who needs to buy her child some food?

13. Really? That’s interesting, because it looks like you just walked out of Urbanista, where you spent $10 on one coffee.

14. Have you gained weight?

15. How many calories do you think are in this salad?

16. Did you read the story about the cancer-causing pesticides they’ve been using?

17. Have you paid off your generator mafia lately?

18. Do you need a nose job?

19. Are you sure?

20. If you have a nose job already, do you think that it will make your face look lopsided as you get older?

21. Do you think the silicone in your boobs is going to explode?

22. Do you think everyone is talking about you?

23. Have you met any nice guys lately?

24. What if you’re gay after all?

25. What if you’re straight after all?

26. What if you die alone anyway?

27. Do you remember taking a math test at university that you didn't study for, and as you were taking it realized that you were going to fail miserably? What if that’s what the afterlife is like?

28. What if the afterlife is a place where they replay every embarrassing moment from your life over and over again into eternity?

29. Are you racist?

30. Is Israel going to attack us this week?

31. How is that ISIS caliphate coming along?

Paradoxically, the threat of war has this beautifully simplifying effect on life. All your other concerns – the pollution, the fact that you’re not giving money to refugees – get swept aside when you start wondering if the Israelis are going to bomb Beirut, or if that whole ISIS caliphate thing is ever going to really take off. It’s like being a junkie. It must be why politicians enjoy keeping people in an eternal state of fear and anxiety in the first place.


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