A couple of months ago, I very vaguely addressed what it’s like for me to live with Anxiety.
I presumed that because I do not experience panic attacks and such, ‘my anxiety’ wasn’t severe and therefore, did not merit anything more than a fleeting mention. Almost, blink-and-miss if you’d like. Which is what it was!
|There’s a story behind the image|
But the anxiety even sans the panic attacks, is anything but blink-and-miss.
May be it something as covert as high-functioning anxiety!
I’ve found that writing helps me out when I’m caught unawares, struggling to cope with this Boa Constrictor called Anxiety. So over a glass of Bloody Mary, not too long ago, we had a verbal duel of sorts. And here’s what that looked like…
Me: Your behaviour has necessitated the need for this conversation.
Anxiety: My behaviour, eh? I am what I am. Your reaction towards me necessitates this conversation.
Me: What am I supposed to do if not react to your presence in my life! You’ve sneaked in on me and continue to leave me in the throes of nothing I can comprehend. You sure weren’t hoping for a red carpet welcome, I hope!
Anxiety: I wasn’t hoping for anything. Unlike you, hope is not what I thrive on. I thrive as long as you react to my presence. And you know that yourself enough already. And yet, you succumb. You make my job easy and my existence possible. HAHA.
Me: You’re disgusting. What pleasure does wreaking havoc and leaving me incapacitated to do anything leave you with?
Anxiety: Listen woman, you’re not special okay. I already told you I’m doing this for me. My survival rests on your reaction. I am a parasite, yes. And nothing you say is going to make me want to have a change of heart. Yes, you heard me right. I have it easy scavenging on your insecurities. Why, I am also able to fuel your insecurities. So that makes you a parasite too. And the more you feed off from me, the more I control you. And no, I am no angel; never claimed to be one. So, quit the pontification!
Me: But why me? And why can’t you just let me be?
Anxiety: Look woman, you’re not special. Me and my hommies have nestled ourselves in the heads, hearts and lives of many like you. So, don’t take it personally either. And why should I be the one letting you be? You can very well do it yourself. I let the secret out to you already. I thrive on what you provide. You stop providing, I stop thriving. Easy as that.
Me: Piece of cake, eh? Right from waking up in the morning and that arresting sensation in my chest with my heart thudding its way out of my rib-cage (if it could) to my gut wanting to retch itself out (again, if it could) you have a stronghold over my physical and mental agility. How the hell am I supposed to stop providing when it’s me you’ve taken ransom? You make it seem like I am doing this of my own accord. Ugh! It’s like trying to explain your presence in my life to people around me all over again. It’s not my doing. You hover over like a shadow. No matter how much I try to let the light in – you keep blowing out the flame. I cannot control you or your influence over me. I did not make you happen. NO. You took over me when I was seeking acceptance and approval. You sneaked in under the guise of a well-wisher and never handed me back to myself. I didn’t stand a chance with you. And you’re making it seem like I am the provider. I never had a say and don’t have a choice!
Anxiety: Such a rant-er, you are. Yes, I make my own words and no, you cannot guilt-trip me out. That silly ploy of yours is just that, silly and weak. And explaining? You really think explaining my presence in your life to the ‘real’ people around you is going to make any difference? I already told you, you’re not the first of our finds! Why, me and my hommies have been lauded for being instrumental in birthing the concept of ‘the tortured genius’! So many excellent works of art and science have been brought into this world by these geniuses tortured because of what you claim are our misdeeds. Bah!
Me: You make the life of a tortured genius seem like such a coveted honour. The tortured genius is a misunderstood soul who lives a life of shame and guilt. Someone who is always afraid of falling short of what they can do and who out of that same fear, never live to their true potential; least of all, never live in peace. And yes, I’ll concede this much to you, I cannot and do not want you to plea bargain your way out of my life. That will be the death of you. And you know what else will be the death of you?
It is the antithesis of the Stockholm syndrome. I’ll let you be the captor that you thrive on being but it won’t continue to be at the cost of my well-being. Not anymore. You’re right when you claim that explaining your presence to anyone around me won’t do me any good. Guess what? I am learning that I can grant myself the approval and acceptance I’ve always craved for. I can watch out for myself and as one of the most fundamental principles of writing goes, I’ll ‘show, not tell’ those around me how I would like to be taken care of.
I’ll be me for me.
You don’t have to snigger already. You’ve certainly won all the rounds so far. But a good place to start is to cut my losses. Enough of the telling, it’s show time!
This piece is NOT a work of fiction. I have borrowed from the concept of expressive writing to help myself cope with my anxieties and stressors!