Category: Anxiety

What Is Anxiety?!

Conga ant by ggallice, on Flickr

A terrifying vision of possible bitey disaster

Photo © Geoff Gallice, gruntzooki on Flickr
CC Attribution-SA 2.0 Generic License

I was once attacked by a Bolivian Conga Ant.

Well. Nearly.

I was visiting the rainforest (obviously). One day, I awoke at 5am to find an ant wandering along the surface of the mosquito net, inches in front of my face.

I watched it for a moment, half-dozing, listening to the sounds of the jungle while I slowly woke up… until I realised with a jolt… THAT ANT IS INSIDE MY MOSQUITO NET.

I responded calmly and rationally by flying into a complete panic.

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I Was Ashamed of Being Anxious

Vertigo by colmbritton, on Flickr. No hiding anxiety here!

A long way to fall…

Photo © Colm Britton, colmbritton on Flickr
CC Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Many years ago, a German exchange student came to live with my family for a year.

This had many implications, including some interesting cultural exchange, another teenager to share the household washing-up burden that SO UNFAIRLY fell on my brother and I, and an extra excuse to go on lots of fun trips.

During one outing to a theme park, we came across a terrifying ride, called Oh Dear God Why Would You Go On THIS Are You A Total Fool.*

* I may not be remembering the name of this ride correctly.

It involved lying flat, suspended only by a thick elastic cord, and being pulled seventy feet in the air, and then being dropped towards the ground below. For “fun”.

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Untangling Anxiety: The First Step

Tangled wires, Freegeek, Portland, Orego by gruntzooki, on Flickr

Untangle THIS!

Photo © Cory Doctorow, gruntzooki on Flickr
CC Attribution-SA 2.0 Generic License

The first thing I had to do after admitting that I had anxiety was to decide to actually do something towards being less anxious.

Well, I say the “first” thing. But this decision actually took me several years.

In fairness, I was busy! You can’t just drop everything and go ‘deal with anxiety’, can you?

Plus, if I left it alone maybe it would just get better? Maybe if I started messing with it, it would only get worse… Not to mention that it sounds difficult and unpleasant. Let’s just forget it and watch a film, or something. Please?

These – plus many other excuses – kept me from action for a long, long time. It wasn’t until everything became completely intolerable that I finally chose to do whatever it took to stop being anxious.

But to make that decision I had to believe I could be less anxious.

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It’s Helpful to Seek Fresh Perspectives

shelf by YellowDog, on Flickr

Assorted invisible strange items.

Photo © YellowDog, YellowDog on Flickr
CC Attribution-SA 2.0 Generic License

Let’s summarise The Story So Far of this initial exploration of anxiety.

And because I’m dangerously over-organised, let’s do it as a list:

These three points don’t sound like a lot of insight for three whole blogposts. I don’t even need my inner critic to tell me that.

Inner critic: That’s no problem, I have plenty of other criticisms. For example, do you remember that time you called your teacher “Mum” in primary school?! You’re a genuine one-man cringe industry.

Not now, inner critic, thanks.

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Exploding Cats & Panic Attacks

Cat on Beach walking away from Explosion by ifindkarma, on Flickr

The situation was getting a little out of hand.

Photo © Adam Rifkin, ifindkarma on Flickr
CC Attribution 2.0

“But the Society of Esteemed & Honorable Vicars can’t possibly go in there! That room has already been booked by…”

(both look at one another, sharing the horrific realisation)

“Oh no…”

(in unison) “THE INTERNATIONAL STRIPPERS CHAMPIONSHIPS”

(Little Billy enters)

“Bad news sirs… there was a mixup with the zookeeper and I’m afraid there’s a SECOND tiger on the loose…”

(In the background, Old Mrs Adams faints)

Everyone rushes to leave at once, accidentally knocking Little Billy into the fireplace.

He runs around wildly, in the process setting fire to the cat, who explodes due to all the gunpowder ingested during the earlier mishap (see p17).

(Zoom to Little Billy) “Sir! I’ve spotted another problem…”

(Roll credits)

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The Little Virus Who Fell In Love

influenza virus by kat m research, on Flickr

“I got a fever for you, beautiful.”

Original Photo © Kat Masback, kat m on Flickr. Edited and re-shared under:
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License

There once was a virus who fell in love with its host.

It drifted around in their bloodstream, dreamily content with its lot in life. Every moment was a joy. It was physically joined with its true love, and it had never wanted anything more.

One day, after a spate of joyous multiplying, the virus noticed with alarm that their host appeared to have fallen ill.

“Oh dear,” said the virus (for it inexplicably had the ability to speak as well as to experience abstract emotions like love and joy). “I’d better do something.”

And so the virus did the only thing it knew how: it began to multiply at a faster rate than ever before. It hoped that if it became strong enough it would be able to help its love.

But the more the virus multiplied, the sicker their host seemed to get. This only made the virus more determined to help before time ran out.

Spurred by love, it multiplied faster and faster and faster. Until, suddenly…

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“We Have Everything We Need”

stopped in traffic 2.0 by ** RCB **, on Flickr

A typical relaxing drive home…

Photo © Robert Couse-Baker, ** RCB ** on Flickr.
CC Attribution 2.0

I love driving.

I counted down the days to my seventeenth birthday, when I could finally get my licence. I would no longer need to rely on the goodwill of others to go to parties and on adventures.*

* These ‘adventures’ often consisted of me and my friends all putting on Hawaiian shirts (no, there was no reason, before you ask) and flipping a coin at each junction to decide which way to go. Wild and crazy youth, right?

On one particular day, about ten years ago, I was driving along in an excellent mood.

The weather was beautiful, it was nearly my birthday, and a girl I liked had just agreed to go out later in the week for a drink.

I expect I was singing loudly and embarrassingly to some terrible song when I hit a traffic jam.

At first, I didn’t think anything of it.

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Shoot The Moon (And Aim For Happy)

Moon Pie by JD Hancock, on Flickr

An artist’s impression of what revenge may look like against humanity’s ancient enemy.

Original Photo © JD Hancock, JD Hancock on Flickr.
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

In the addictive card game, Hearts, the play that scores the most points is known as ‘Shooting the Moon’.

I’m greatly in favour of this.

The moon has sat there for long enough, arrogantly watching over us. For aeons it has floated judgementally over the Earth, thinking it’s better than us, all ‘romantically’ flying around in the sky, like a slow plane that doesn’t even FLASH, supposing itself to be safe from our revenge against its alleged ‘superiority’ just because it’s millions of miles away.

WELL… YOUR TIME HAS COME, MOON. WE’RE COMING FOR YOU. YOUR ARROGANT REIGN OF TEDIOUS ‘ROMANTIC’ JUDGEMENT IS OVER. SCREW YOU, YOU POINTLESS FLOATING LUMP OF DISAPPOINTING DUSTY ROCK.

IT’S TIME TO SHOOT THE MOON FOR REAL

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Laughing at Anxiety – Or With It – Or Something

[I originally wrote this article for the Huffington Post – click here to see it in its natural habitat]

Laughter is the best medicine.

(Unless you’re trying to treat insomnia, in which case laughter is at best highly inconvenient or – more likely – annoying beyond belief.)

But how useful is laughter for the anxious? As an occasional stand-up comedian and full-time worrier, I think I’m well-placed to answer that.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Oh God Why All The Lies: Part One

35th U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition by US Army Africa, on Flickr

A non-imaginary, non-made-up, completely real cooking competition that was genuinely won by real people.

Original Photo © US Army Africa, US Army Africa on Flickr.
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

One night at university, my friends and I came up with a game.

That night, each of us would tell one lie, and whoever convinced the most people to believe it would be the winner.

Harmless fun, right?

I forget what lie everybody else told. But mine went on to become legendary. It was this:

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