Friday, March 28, 2014

FFF: High Anxiety

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." --Leo Tolstoy

You're half right, Leo.  I think about changing the world quite a bit.  Changing myself, well...that's a matter of grave concern for me as well.  Lately, my stumbling block for doing so has been anxiety.

"Anxiety is a desire for what one fears, a sympathetic antipathy; anxiety is an alien power which grips the individual, and yet he cannot tear himself away from it and does not want to, for one fears, but what he fears he desires. Anxiety makes the individual powerless, and the first sin always occurs in weakness; therefore it apparently lacks accountability, but this lack is the real trap." --Soren Kierkegaard.

I see what you mean by that, Soren.  But the thing is, I don't entirely agree.  True, it is rather something like "praying for exactly what you don't want" or focusing on the worst-case scenario until it consumes you as reality.  By all rational, logical thought, it's something you should not do.  It should be a case of switching that part of you off and moving forward.

Who ever said the human mind was rational?

No, Soren.  A quote I find far more relatable on the subject comes from the venerable Trent Reznor:

"It won't give up, it wants me dead, goddamn this noise inside my head." 

I've blogged extensively and candidly about my struggles with depression.  In fact, it was just one year ago to the day (as I write this) that I began going through one of the more difficult times of my life.  But this is different.  This is more fear-based as I mentioned once before.  All rooted in that fear of "what comes tomorrow." Seems unlikely that someone who writes so much about matters Fortean, but I have a genuine fear of the unknown.

I remember grade school.  If I didn't see one of my parents there to pick me up when the day was over, I somehow presumed they were never coming for me.  Worry commenced.  Don't ask me why, I have no idea.  I have worn grooves into floors from nervous pacing.  I don't know if my stomach problems can be traced to anxiety so much as stress and angst, but I wouldn't be surprised. 

Social occasions have at times been gruesome affairs for me.  Bars and nightclubs are not my favorite places and weddings (yes even my own, making my way through the real life edition of My Big Fat Greek Wedding) are especially egregious.  Fortunately, both situations come with copious amounts of alcohol and that makes things barely tolerable.  In other cases, well let's just I've really embarrassed myself out of fear or "fight or flight" instinct, my actions landing in various shades of both ends of that spectrum.  I really hate that about myself (bringing on more self-loathing) but there it is.

I tried Xanax once long ago.  It didn't do anything for me.  My brain can pump out fear chemicals faster than any medication can hope to inhibit.  Alcohol works better.  At least in the short term.  But that brings a whole host of negative consequences with it.

"Losing yourself in your art" seems a tack taken by many writers and artists.  Kafka certainly did it, as did T.S. Eliot.  In this frank (and tortured) article on anxiety  in The Atlantic, the common association between artistic brilliance and neurosis is made once more:

"In his 1941 essay “The Wound and the Bow,” the literary critic Edmund Wilson writes of the Sophoclean hero Philoctetes, whose suppurating, never-healing snakebite wound on his foot is linked to a gift for unerring accuracy with his bow and arrow—his “malodorous disease” is inseparable from his “superhuman art” for marksmanship. I have always been drawn to this parable: in it lies, as the writer Jeanette Winterson has put it, “the nearness of the wound to the gift,” the insight that in weakness and shamefulness is also the potential for transcendence, heroism, or redemption."

I could live with that...were I not absent any evidence of being particularly brilliant.

What will I do?  No idea.  Therein is the root of much of my anxiety.  Please don't tell me about herbal teas or meditation or to "just get exercise" or "only eat organic." That latter one slays me.  Like who has the money for that?  Especially with money being such a major source of my anxiety.

Along with age.

And weight.

And thinning hair.

And time running out.

Oh sweet oblivion, if only...

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1 comment:

  1. On FB, Dixie said: "Good one Jonny! I like the way you wove in Siouxsie. I hope things improve. Your herbal tea and organic food references cracked me up."