Anxiety is like syphilis.
No one would tell from across the bar that you suffer from it but in the midst of an out break it feels as though you are covered from head to toe in weeping crusty sores. Emotional sores anyway. Anxiety can be congenital, starting from birth, passed from an anxious parent to an anxious child, raised in an anxious house. It can get worse over a generation or three if left unchecked. These are my methods for antibiotic-izeing my anxiety. I am Louis Pasteur in the face of my genetic lineage of agoraphobia and neurosis.
I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember and from agoraphobia since I left home at 17. It is because of my panic attacks and the sickness they bring with them, that I have whiled away many an hour sitting in the unpleasant atmosphere of public bathrooms, hiding until the panic subsides or my medication can kick in. The unpleasantness though I acknowledge it, is dwarfed almost in its entirety by the sheer relief of being out of the public eye; the public toilet is my saviour when I need to be behind a locked door, alone and at my most vulnerable. The fear of germs, sticky floors and the smell of other peoples piss is nothing when compared to the heart breaking fear at the center of a panic attack. If you’ve never had one it’s like being in your worst nightmare; you’re naked at school with the cool kids teasing you and throwing rocks at your head, a murderous bear is charging towards you with a meat cleaver, your whole family and pets have died in an unfortunate sailing accident, you are on fire and Celine Dion with pan flute music is on constant repeat. Even this does nothing to illustrate the horror.
Do you know someone with anxiety? The answer unless you live under a rock is yes you do. Perhaps you never realised because most people don’t talk about it, but I do. I can’t stop talking about it, thinking about it and busting my ass trying to manage it. It’s like a second full time job that exists in my head. It exhausts me and I would love to kill it with fire.
Instead I will write this blog, for people like me and people who are not like me. For people with anxiety I’m going to share some of the masterly plans I have created and answers I have found over my years of managing and taming my anxiety. For people who don’t have anxiety but who have a loved one, a friend, work mate, wife/girlfriend/man-friend or child who suffers with anxiety I would like to offer an insight into what it really feels like, so perhaps you might understand and feel more patient when they are having a hard time. I’d like more people to understand that ‘just stop worrying’ isn’t the answer and no amount of love can fix it. Anxiety needs to be wrangled like an out of control mule on crack. It’s not called a disorder for fun; it truly makes you feel like you lack order and certainty. For people who don’t have anxiety and don’t have people they want to understand, you can just laugh in a mocking fashion at my neurosis and ill-advised shenanigans. Schadenfreude sweetly packaged with drawings and pictures of toilets.
I like metaphors, metaphors like me.