Okay. I admit it. I am a worrier. I can’t help it. Worry me.
I also battle with anxiety on an almost daily basis. It’s a whooshing, chemical thing. An unsettling friend. Sigh.
Perhaps worry is the dark side of imagination and creativity? Maybe all those good ideas and meandering mind wanderings HAVE to stray into overthinking, what-if, holy sh*t, yikes territory? Maybe it’s just part of the deal?
Anxiety, on the other hand, is pretty much devoid of redeeming qualities and should be sequestered to a deep, dark place in a galaxy far, far away.
Where worry feels like it might be tamed with some measured thinking and various practical machinations, anxiety has a life of its own and often knows no boundaries/logic.
What I’ve learned dealing with both anxiety and worry personally is that things like exercise, hot baths, craft, stories, sleep, movies, music and friends or family help to quell the wobbliness a lot. (For me at least.)
For me, anxiety is kind of like the tiger in The Tiger Who Came To Tea. No need to fight it. Better to take a deep breath and step sideways, let it wander about, offer it a drink and watch its tail flick in and out of view.
Quite possibly it might eat all your crisps and buns and cake and tea, scaring the crap out of you in the process and requiring you to breathe into a paper bag or get under a blanket for quite some time, but eventually you’ll see the back of it and you can always make another pot of tea. Hopefully. *Attempts not to get caught up in the meta cycle of getting anxious about anxiety. #BrainSwirl*
F Scott Fitzgerald wrote a letter to his daughter Scottie when she was eleven – not so much about anxiety – but about its second-cousin WORRYING and about what truly matters. It goes a little something like this:
Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
With dearest love,
Obviously I worry about quite a few things on this list… Mosquitoes, for instance. And insects in general. I possibly have a lot to learn. What I do know is that a list makes me feel anchored and this one is a witty, thoughtful foundation for some pondering.
I worry about all the usual things, I think. Run of the mill, round-the-house, round-the-world type stuff. And then I am really good at making up extra worries. Things that will never happen but that play out in a gripping-yet-weirdly-entertaining way, in between my ears. With a soundtrack. And sound effects. Oof.
I’m not so special though. I am certain others feel the same, and despite the fact that these kinds of things can be a bit much to tussle with at times, I figure these twists and turns are where stories and personal growth come from… and they give us a chance to practice resilience and measure out some perspective. #perhaps
Of course, ANXIETY shouldn’t be smiled at weakly or dumbed down with sparkly optimism or cheeky lists. I’m lucky to be able to manage what goes on with me, but some peoples’ anxiety is less of a tiger who came to tea and more of a body-exiting-monster-from-Alien. Fist bumps and squeezes to those people. Hot baths and leafy walks are definitely too soft-core for them. Mosquitoes are probably not even on their radar. Palling up with an excellent health professional is (hopefully) their jam. Best idea ever. (If this sounds like you and you’re not treating that thing that makes you feel like an Alien is trying to exit your body… and you are suffering in silence, maybe this post is a sign that you should head to your GP and spill the beans?)
Me? I am mostly walking off, sipping off, breathing off or soaking off the thoughts of giant kitten-eating mosquitoes or kids accidentally caught up in gang fights or next week’s budget deficit. And remembering that breathing should not feel sharp and fizzy and wild.
And also worrying about dolls. Won’t somebody think of the dolls?
Is anxiety or worry a thing for you? And is your anxiety a tiger or a hamster or a dark cloud of freaky whoosh, would you say? Or a different kind of thing altogether?