Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anxiety Lives In The Dark

Today, when I stopped at a red light, I noticed that my hands hurt.  I'd been clutching the steering wheel with such force that it left indentions in my palms and my fingers were stiff.

I held on like I was gripping the safety bar of a roller coaster, using muscles all the way up into my shoulders.  In fact, my whole body was flexed with tension.

I have no idea why I do this, only that it's not the first time that I've caught myself in this state of constriction while at the wheel.  I don't usually notice it until I arrive somewhere, like when the coaster glides safely back into the starting gate and you suddenly realize you've shit your pants.

This is the reason I suffer from panic attacks, because I don't realize my anxiety exists until it's got me pinned to the floor and is giving me a wet Willy.

I suppose it's power lies in my desperate need to pretend it doesn't exist. I am happy when I don't acknowledge it, I feel good.  This is the worst battle strategy in the history of the world.  That's like letting your enemy surround you completely while you close your eyes, stick your finger in your ears and loudly sing, "I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm happy" to yourself. 

Maybe I just need to start drinking more.  Maybe I need more sex.  I think either of those are viable options that might work well in conjunction with just being more aware for crying out loud, of looking anxiety right in the face and declaring a staring contest, first one to blink loses.  Honestly, I might not always win that contest but at least it's progress.

I once heard someone say, "monsters live in the dark."  I generally put a lot of effort into fearing what I don't see and more importantly, what I refuse to look at.  With a little courage though, I'm sure I  can get out of bed, walk over to the closet, open the door and notice that what looked beastly in the shadows of my imagination, cowers when I flick the light switch and reveal it.

Or maybe it's a snarly, toothy, ceiling-tall beast whose breathe makes my spine clatter.  Either way,  I'll know what I'm up against.


  1. Thank for postin about this. I know exactly how this feels...not fun. Maybe we should try the drinking more approach.

    1. Speaking of which, are you coming mover on Sat?

  2. I vote for more sex, less drinking...then you risk that becoming an unhealthy vice. I hear ya though, for me it doesn't come out until I'm KNEE DEEP in depression...and by then it's too too too late to address properly. I think your snarly tooth oppressor is our mutual enemy and he's all ready lost. I think rehearsing those truths will be the best medicine. Either way, prayers for you!

    1. Thanks Grace. I'm just about the most under-accomplished drinker in the world. I can buy a bottle of wine and make it last four years. I don't enjoy it. What I meant was that I clearly can't escape, I have to face anxiety head on if there is any chance for its defeat. I'm getting there!

  3. I like that you compared anxiety to a monster. I read this great book (so great infact that I've completely forgotten the name of it because I was so deeply engrossed in its contents lol) that included visualization exercises to help people deal with tough emotions such as anxiety. In the book one of the exercises included personifying anxiety and pretending that it was a monster. The exercise then encouraged the reader to visualize the monster becoming smaller and smaller as you began to confront it. This exercise really helped me get a hold of my anxiety at the time and it still helps me today! It helps to think that all anxiety is a cowardly monster that thinks it has control of me, but really I reign superior :-)


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