I have anxiety.
Isn’t that a bitch?
The fact is that I’ve probably had it my whole life. I remember sitting on the stairs by the slope below my home, waiting for my uncle to come home because that would make everything a bit better. It was just life, you know? You worry about things, it’s what you do as a human being, you want things to be good and you worry that they won’t be.
And now? The entire west world is having this major collective anxiety attack because of the state of the world. Collectively we can hardly breath. Is it worse than it was during the 80’s when I worried about the big bomb? Maybe, maybe not. But what is certain is that it’s worse than we thought it was a while ago. I have been listening to the OtherPPL podcast, digging in the archives and Listi speaking about the horror of 2014 actually made me laugh out loud. Collectively 2016 kicks 2014’s ass any day, though for me 2014 was a pretty bad one.
Anxiety is a sucker. And it’s something very individual.
For me it really started in 2014 when I had a miscarriage. Aside from this major loss inside my head this major corporeal (because bodily just isn’t word enough (read that as you would “man enough”)) anxiety entered my body and kidnapped my brain. It took a long time to get over and though I know for a fact (because I’ve seen it in others) that my anxiety isn’t particularly bad – it was so bad at one point that I went to get emergency help because I thought something in me would break if I didn’t.
And you know what? Someone did help. Instead of just assigning pills a kind human being, who also happened to be a doctor, talked to me. She was sympathetic, empathic and kind and though she couldn’t wave a magic wand and take all my troubles away she did help me more with words than I can express, just by being kind and by listening and by telling me things that I may not have believed at the time but her words sat with me and they turned out to be true. The corporeal anxiety affected my brain for a long while and when the whole situation repeated in the same month the next year I had tools and I knew to get help and I did get help.
And while getting that help I learned a couple of secrets. While my anxiety was partially corporeal (I love calling it that because that’s how it felt – it was anxiety of the body that the mind just interpreted) my mind did play tricks on me. My mind was kidnapped. It was constantly in the red zone, flashing its lights and warning me about upcoming chaos and about all the things that could possibly go wrong with me and with the world.
One of the tricks you can use to battle anxiety is kindness. Do things that are good for you, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself – and this can be easily translated into society, be kind, be individual, forgive and be nice. It may not help the entire world but the person receiving your kindness? That might make their day and that in itself heals and makes people hate less. And that’s what we need – we need to stop this collective anxiety, because anxiety makes us sub-human, it puts us in animal-brain territory and we start snapping at each other, screaming and shouting. And that turns into hitting and evil things that I’m not prepared to discuss now.
Another important thing is breathing. Deep breaths help the body and mind to calm down. Collectively we need to take a breath or two before we shout out in panic. Breath in and breath out, count to ten and then try to picture the best way to respond to whatever is causing the freakout. And remember that this too shall pass.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting we smile and ooh our way through the things that are collectively appalling most of us, pushing our collective blood pressure up and putting our minds in that red area where everything screams DANGER DANGER. I’m suggesting that our screaming minds won’t accomplish anything good. We need to calm ourselves, breath and do things that are good for us, and for society, and remember that terror doesn’t help us battle the racism, it doesn’t help us battle the bigotry or the homophobia. It just makes us feel alienated and panicked and we can’t breath and while we can’t collectively catch our breath the horror will get worse.
Be kind and be personal because only that can help to stifle the prejudice. Showing people that the things they fear aren’t dangerous, only that can help. Show vulnerability and individuality – only that can help because it’s hard to be prejudiced against the things you know, it’s hard to be prejudiced against someone you know and who shows their true color. We’re not just robots, we’re not all the same and most of us are good people. We need to collectively remember that, otherwise 2017 will be worse than 2016.
And FIGHT against that thing that’s causing that collective anxiety, that thing that’s kidnapping our collective brain. Fight it with EVERYTHING you have, but don’t let it rule you! Show your vulnerabilities and be kind to yourself and to others.
Because I think these days only kindness can help. Don’t let the hate kidnap you and keep our society in a constant state of blinking RED lights and horror. Show compassion towards that which causes the problem – because compassion trumps hate and it heals. And it can be hard to be compassionate, especially towards the part of the self that’s causing the red lights to flash repeatedly. It’s hard to show compassion towards that which is causing our society to stagger, but I do believe getting rid of this collective anxiety is the only thing we can do to heal, kindness and individuality will make our world a better place. Be personal.
Anxiety is a bitch, isn’t it? Thankfully mine is mostly corporeal and well under control these days, though I do still have my moments feeling I’ve been lucky so far, feeling I should be preparing for the world to come crashing in – I try to remember that it probably won’t, you know?
And if it does? I am woman strong enough to deal with it. And what’s even better is that as a collective we are too! Don’t let the corporeal anxiety kidnap the collective mind, fight back and be kind.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” is a cliché for a reason.