Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Anxiety Chronicles: Introduction


have read many writers and their essays about how they've dealt with anxiety. Some of it is harrowing, and I think to myself, "That is so harrowing." I can't believe someone has been able to overcome such mental anguish. I thank them, by thanking the book, for sharing their stories.

Others try to be funny and poke fun at it, and those are usually the ones I lean into and hug. I say to them, "I, too, have a story. Mine is not as good as yours because my case isn't debilitating." 

I've tried to write about my anxiety for years. I always fail. At first, I wanted my own pieces to be dark and brooding, to showcase how it can be a cancer in my life. I typed out a few of those paragraphs and then gave up, finding the loose thread of my words. I pulled it until the whole piece unraveled.

I think it's because my anxiety isn't dark and brooding. It's annoying. It's that socially awkward person that doesn't know when to stop talking, and two hours later, is talking still.

My anxiety pops in at random moments, tells me it's here to ruin that particular moment, then sits down on the couch, an unwanted houseguest, and continues to make me nervous for while longer. Then, I go through a list of what might be making me anxious.

It's backwards: first the anxiety comes, and then I try to find something to worry about. 

As a rule, mental illness is not funny. In fact, it's a taboo in modern society. People look upon it as if it is leprosy. It is not. I can attest to this. You can't catch it, and it doesn't make me any less of a person. I also haven't lost any limbs. 

I am not weak because I suffer from it. In many ways, I believe I am stronger because of it. It's not easy going through the motions of daily life feeling like your chest is going to cave in. Anxiety has blessed me with knowing what armageddon feels like because for so long, I have felt it coming.

And coming.

And it never arrives.

So, when it does -- I'll just wave at the Four Horsemen.

It's a lot of waiting, really, like the play "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. Two men are waiting. They speak nonsense, they talk in circles, and an hour and half, they are still waiting. This Godot never arrives.

Anxiety is like that. I'm often waiting for the worst thing to happen. It never comes, but it doesn't stop me from waiting for it. And as I wait, I plow through life curled up on the couch waiting for it to go away.