Anxiety: A Confession
One of the least discussed barriers to writing is anxiety.
I’ve suffered from anxiety since I was a kid. My dad took me to the doctor because I experienced frequent “bad feelings” but didn’t have the words to say more. Dr. Yao, my family’s primary doctor and an insightful man, encouraged me to document each anxious episode on small calendars my dad left lying around from local hardware stores. Dr. Yao would flip through the months with days circled on the front and times listed on the back. My anxiety bled over their narrow margins. Yet, he never named it. Just had me keep track until he passed away some time after from a malignant brain tumor. I’ve never had a doctor look at me with such genuine understanding since—an understanding I imagine he would look at his own daughter with.
My anxiety has bled into every year, every month and most days of my childhood, adolescence and adulthood. I don’t remember a time I haven’t felt anxious. Anxiety is as predictable as the future. Sometimes the ebb and flow is manageable like a shallow puddle you step into while wearing chanclas. Sometimes anxiety is a storm that keeps you locked inside the house to escape the discomfort and danger of the outside. This type of anxiety is debilitating; it makes normal activities challenging. One of these activities has been my recent struggle with writing and submitting work to places.
There are moments I feel so unbelievably discouraged, like why do I even bother to do anything? Why do I write? Why do I send my work out? What am I trying doing? Sometimes I want a life where I go to work and just come home and watch TV. Go to work. Come home. Watch TV. Again and again. Yet, that sedentary life, my mom’s whole existence minus the drinking, is nothing like the life I imagine for myself. It just seems easy. With anxiety, however, easy is difficult to come by. So, I create.
Yet, I’m plagued with these questions I have no answers for. Something about writing feels necessary, essential to my being. Even though it’s hard to pinpoint why, it’s something I need to do rather than want to do. So, I create through the uncertainty. Even when my anxiety makes every stride to share myself with the world an arduous task, agaunto. If anxiety is a house without a door, I climb through the windows or vents to get words on the page.
While writing this blog post, “Who cares?” and “You don’t matter,” have become crippling mantras. This is my anxiety trying to control me, trying to make me stop at every turn. So, it’s taken me hours to get anything down. I thought by confronting the anxiety, naming it, it would be easier, but it’s not. Yet, here I am. With a cloud tied to my waste like a deflated balloon. The perseverance to create stronger than the crumpling of the lining of my stomach. For what purpose, I still don’t know. Many things in life don’t need to have purpose to be worthwhile.
So, I create with or without purpose to see myself in this world in as many ways as possible. When I can, I expose these words, replacements for this being I am, to others if their willing to listen in order to better understand who I am and who I want to be.
Then, just like that, the anxiety evaporates.