Anxiety

Let’s just get to it.  I have anxiety.  You have anxiety.  Everyone has anxiety.  It’s normal.  The difference between us is how that anxiety is triggered, and what we do about it.  This post is primarily a result of Belghast’s.

Anxiety is the fear of what’s to come, and you’re stressful reaction to that idea.  There are some more common things, like a job interview, a first date, a performance.  The outcome of that activity is likely to have some “major” consequences and your mind just goes racing at all the options.  Some people decide to focus on the worst outcomes, others get paralyzed with all the options, others end up in this rabbit hole of outcomes.  Like a first date goes well and they are thinking about kid names.

I used to suffer tremendously from anxiety.  It wasn’t debilitating, to the point where I didn’t take action.  It was to the point where my mind just wouldn’t shut off.  It was like being in one of those amusement funhouse mirror mazes.  I’d see infinite copies of me, in all sorts of situations.  I’d navigate through it, find the one I wanted to be, and sort of “took over” that role.  The best analogy I can apply to this is that me, as a core, stayed the same.  What happened was that I applied a sort of filter onto the core, and let certain aspects through given the particular issue.  So the hard-ass version of me in areas where I needed to exert control, but otherwise would be put aside.

The challenge here is that I started depending on some roles more than others.  Instead of picking the “best” role for a given problem, I’d pick one that was easier and hit it at like, 80%.  Not through laziness, but sheer exhaustion from having so many roles asking different levels of energy.  I got really far in life using that model, but reached a point where it just wasn’t sustainable.  People around me were suffering for those impacts.

I went and got counselling.  Won’t sugar coat it, it took a while to find one I liked.  Most were OK.  Some were just horrible.  My wife has one, and we shared her for couples counselling.  She’s ok, but I really struggle to take advice on child raising from someone without kids.  I did eventually find someone who shared some life experiences and followed the Adler train of thought on psychology.

This whole thing coincided with a really rough patch in my relationship with my wife, and a burnout at work.  Life gave me a few hints about it, but life never really gives up.  Either you learn, or it just hits harder the next time.  I went to counselling, I made an effort to be honest, and a larger effort to take it all seriously.  I had help setting new priorities, applying different techniques.  I refocused on what mattered, and learned to accept “what’s the worst that can happen, and can I live with it”.  That mindset liberated me.

In my line of work, this type of service counts are health services.  A portion of the costs were covered by work, and I footed the remainder of the bill.  I didn’t pay through the nose either – there are some insanely expensive options.  Makes little sense to create financial anxiety.  I understand that not everyone has my flexibility in this manner.  That said, if you’re in a position where you’re conscious of your mental health, there’s a darn good chance you have the means to address it.  If you’re worried about putting food on the table, mental health is not a priority – nor should it be.

In the world today, there’s more than enough to drive people over the edge.  It claws at our sanity.  But it’s a choice.  If the news is draining you, then you probably should stop reading the news for a bit.  If your social media feed gets your blood boiling, then you need to clean it up.  Everyone has that crazy uncle/aunt/friend who’s a few cards short of a deck.  Cutting Facebook entirely is massive peace of mind.  I rarely seek out things on Twitter.  I practice mindful meditation steps (I don’t sit on a mat for an hour), by taking a few minutes while I brush my teeth in the morning and evening.

This long post to come to a simple fact.  I am not alone.  You are not alone.  Everyone has challenges.  There are plenty of options out there to address them.  They will not show up to your door – and with a tiny amount of effort, it may end up changing your life for the better.

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