Anxiety, by Stathis Stavrianos
Comedian Steven Wright describes chronic anxiety better than anyone else I’ve ever known. I will paraphrase him loosely here:
You know that feeling when you’re sitting in a chair and you rock back on two legs and you go back too far and you start to fall, then at the last minute you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time.
That’s it. That’s what it feels like to live with anxiety. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone I deem to be a basically valuable person my worst enemy.
I have worried for most of my life. And I don’t mean worrying about normal stuff, like sliding into a ditch during a snowstorm, or about one of my kids when they are sick. I mean making up stuff to worry about. I mean watching the news (which, if you haven’t noticed, is always bad — and if it’s not, it’ll be spun that way anyway) and then taking it even further in my mind, spinning it into nightmares more horrible than any that would be spun on the AGBATT (All Glenn Beck All The Time) Channel. Incidentally, this is how you get to have your own show on CNN — take a headline, run the story out to its ultimate dreadful conclusion, speak loudly and urgently, have experts on your show to agree with you or, hopefully, tell you that it’s probably much worse than you think, and combine it with flashy graphics and other high intensity entertainment pieces. (If you’re unsure how to do any of this, from the fear-mongering to the flashy and entertaining graphics, simply visit most contemporary churches to learn how).
What was I talking about? Oh yes, anxiety. It’s amazing how our minds can take us from one thread to another to another, until eventually the stream of thoughts take on a life of their own and carry with them all the force of reality. I am an expert at this. I have seen things that would scare most people half to death. I mean I’ve SEEN them. In living color. Playing on the screen of my mind. Engulfing my emotions in wild flurries of helpless panic. I have lived in this state for hours, sometimes days, sometimes weeks, at a time. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t “real.” My brain obviously didn’t know the difference, and generated the adrenalin and dread anyway.
Tons of people live with chronic anxiety and panic. Some are reading this post, and I have a message for you. You don’t have to live that way.
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