can you talk about buck + anxiety?
I would love nothing more! Let's take a slightly deep dive into Buck's mental health.
Buck most likely has generalized anxiety disorder that he probably inherited from both his parents.
However this was only exacerbated by the fact that he most likely experienced severe traumatic pain as an infant from the tests and procedures required for the bone marrow donation Daniel needed. Infants have been studied to feel pain like adults but do not possess the understanding of why it's happening as they're still way too young for the development of that concept. This usually can lead to changes in brain chemistry including pain sensitivity, self-esteem, and stress indicators. I know you can also take a transplant from the umbilical chord (which is painless) but given the timeline Maddie gave Buck (Daniel dying when Buck was about one) I'm going to assume that the transplant took place later after the umbilical chord was long discarded.
We see Buck experience pain when he falls off the bike and calls for his mom but when she rejects him and he starts to hurt himself for attention, you see him almost desensitize his pain sensitivity and builds up a skewed tolerance which is why I believe that the blood clot probably did feel like just a cramp to him. We've seen him take a bowling ball to his head, remain conscious while his leg was crushed, drink coffee from a hot pot, get up from being knocked unconscious after smacking his face into metal vat, and barely even flinch when he cuts his arm open etc etc. He's learned to ignore his pain sensitivity with his adrenaline rush.
The adrenaline rush forms in many different ways with Buck and it's interesting because of Buck's complex relationship with confrontation (because he either faces it head on or he wilts inward and there's no real middle ground). The best example I can think of is when the girls were catfished by a guy pretending to be him. When he was slapped, that adrenaline flooded his system and so his response wasn't to freak out but to laugh it off. But when the girl splashes him with water, his adrenaline rush was cut off by his abandonment issues making an appearance when Abby didn't believe him and left.
Given that Buck grew up in an emotionally neglectful home (with his only caregiver to model emotions and social cues after being Maddie who was also a child learning herself) and not understanding why his parents would get upset over things as he didn't know the reason for their anger, it would seem almost like a hairpin trigger. This unknown would add to the anxiety of trying not to set his parents off. The emotional neglect and the above points probably meant Buck had some slight developmental delays including social ones (see Buck 1.0) which just highlights once again how freaking important Maddie is that Buck became the Buck we know and love! All the things we love about Buck he would've learned from Maddie and that is because Maddie was also a victim of emotional neglect as well. They both had to learn to be self-reliant from a young age but they fed off each other.
This untreated trauma would also explain his self-destructive behaviors and why he and Maddie are so protective of one another.
But because Buck's anxiety has been such a constant in his life it's probably almost something he doesn't even notice. Think of it as tinnitus. It's there but you almost don't even notice it. But when it gets loud, it's all you can focus on. But because his feelings were most likely not validated by his parents, he wouldn't have known what to call it. Repression has been his coping skill for almost his entire life.
Repression can often manifest in a need for control and Buck's need for control comes from how he maintains his body. Caloric intake, measuring of body mass, so on and so forth. There was a tiktok going around about how we as a society aren't ready to acknowledge that most of the "gym dudes" that are obsessed with working out and being fit probably suffer from some form of an eating disorder/eating disorder tendencies and I think Buck could fall under that lens. I don't think we'll get the content to necessarily prove that but it's interesting all the same. We also see him with some slight hoarding tendencies when it comes to food too (when he grabs the broccoli and sticks his fingers in the spaghetti and then almost chokes on the bread). This is something we see more of in S1 and not necessarily much since. EXCEPT for the date with Veronica when he suggests splitting the slice cheesecake. At that point you can see Buck is clearly uncomfortable and rather than get his own cheesecake, he asks to share. Then when she body shames him (because yes it goes both ways) he doesn't even eat his cake and brings it home to Albert.
Another form of control we see is his binge researching! This is such an amazing detail to add. You ever look up a menu before you go to a restaurant with a friend so you already know what you're going to get but still look at the menu when you get there anyway? It's a form of gaining control in an unknown environment. But since Buck wasn't exposed to the world until his early 20s, the world as a whole is an unknown environment.
Now: Time for Coping Skills.
So, we often see Buck self-soothe himself (and a lot of it is unconsciously). He rubs his hands a lot. Whether it's together by wringing his hands or on his thighs (for example, you can see him do both when he talks about his parents to Chimney).
Buck also fidgets. A lot. Whether it's with his belt buckle or a tomato or his phone. I know the lines on his phone case are the design but I like to think that they're Calm Strips (which are strips with texture that you can put on things to help you focus or use as a form of self soothing).
He also paces. So much pacing.
I would wager a guess that when he was kid he probably rubbed his head a bunch or ran his hand through his hair. You see him knot his hands in his hair when Abby calls him to talk about Devon. But it's moved over to rubbing his face and licking his lips.
Let's talk about Buck's sitting. I know we like to joke that it's because he's a bisexual who is allergic to chairs but this can also be an indicator of anxiety as well. When he's talking to Bobby about Abby, he sits. When he tells the team he's worried she's going to leave again because Maddie is moving out, he sits. When he finds out why Maddie is running from danger, he sits. Take for example the conversation he has with Maddie at his loft about her calling him sad and lonely. What does he do? He sits on the counter after she pushes him a little to open up. Then what does he do when he thinks the conversation is done? He stands back up again. It's a physical indicator of trying to control the situation. Sure anxiety can make your skin feel like it's crawling with ants but it can also kind of make your legs feel weak and a little hollow. Buck has it both ways. It's why we saw him really unravel when he's forced to sit down because of his leg too (as well as other things) and his squirming when he was talking to Chimney about his parents in the loft. That overwhelmed feeling can take you out at the knees so you see Buck leaning against things too (such as when Chimney was trying to get him to talk to Maddie in Buck Begins).
Now for the real kicker: Buck's stutter. (This one I can speak a little on a personal level because I come off as having it together and being in charge of my situation a lot of the time but I too have an anxiety induced stutter.) We know that Oliver deals with social anxiety in real life so I don't even think he's consciously making the choice to do it half the time but it works with the material that Buck and Maddie grew up very isolated from the rest of the world. The anxiety stutter can range from being debilitating (think The King's Speech) or just the occasional stutter where you slur/smoosh words together/repeat a word/sounds such as "I-I-I mean..." "Hey hey hey---" "Uh, how-- how--- how was the, uh, the big date..". It's interesting that you don't see him stutter as much when he's around Maddie and sometimes Hen and I don't know if that's just because Oliver (because again I don't know if he's consciously making the choice to do the stutter) is comfortable with Aisha and JLH or not but it's great!
This is also why the scene where he blows up with his parents is amazing. That monologue where you hear him fighting to get the words out is another example of him trying not to repress his emotions anymore. "I have spent my entire life feeling like a constant disappointment."... "I have walked through fire every single day of my life because of you." THAT I think was very intentional on Oliver's part.
It'd be interesting to see Buck suffer through an anxiety attack on screen. Not because I want him to have one but rather it's more realistic if he did have one now that he's practicing mindfulness and learning to unpack these things he just thought were normal. It's because of that, that we got him breaking down when he found out Eddie was going to pull through. Those "coping skills" he developed from such an early age were gone and it just sort of exploded out of him.
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Day 12: Made to Watch/Begging
A Snippet from the Now You See Me AU
Eddie blinked furiously as the harsh lights lit his face.
No! No that wasn’t--
Buck’s knees twitched on instinct as his heart screamed at him to run, to go, to act. But he could only rock onto his toes before one of Levinson’s men yanked him back.
Bobby, for his part, didn’t flinch and Buck didn’t understand how when Eddie was standing there, bound and gagged with a thick cloth wedged between his teeth, right in front of them. His hair was a mess from the bag that had been over his head but his expression was thunderous. Sharp, short huffs were heaving through Eddie’s nose and the clinking of his shackles pierced through Buck’s heart.
“See this?” Levinson asked as he wrapped a hand around Eddie’s wrists and yanked them up as far as the tether to his ankles would let him. “Got these made special for your boy here, Nash.”
And if looks could kill then the glare Eddie was shooting at Levinson would’ve made him drop dead in a heartbeat. Bobby sucked in a short hiss of a breath as he tensed and it was only then that Buck noticed what he did.
There wasn’t a lock in sight.
Instead there was a line, smudged along the crease, and burns on Eddie’s hand from when they must have welded the manacles shut around his wrist.
Bile burned at the back of Buck’s throat.
Not Eddie. It was never supposed to be Eddie.
“Sorry, we couldn’t get him in those sparkly booty shorts of his,” Levinson said, running a hand down the front of Eddie’s thigh. Eddie jerked away when his fingers skated dangerously close to his groin and was only stopped from getting further by the hands holding him in place. Levinson laughed and looked up with a shrug. “He didn’t have time to get changed.”
Read the Rest on Ao3
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