Tag: anxiety

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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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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Blog for Mental Health 2015

Blog for Mental Health

Blog for Mental Health 2015
A Canvas of the Minds

I would like to announce that I am joining Blog for Mental Health 2015.

This is a global project for raising awareness of mental health issues.

Inner critic: Thanks, Mr. Obvious. I think we all figured that out just from the name. No need to assume everybody is stupid just because you are.

Not now, please, inner critic, we’re doing an Official Thing today. In a minute I have to write the actual Blog for Mental Health pledge so I can officially join.

Inner critic: Try not to screw it up, idiot.

Okay, and –

Inner critic: Especially don’t try to ‘hilariously’ screw it up on purpose so you can write a “funny” story about it later!

How very cynical. Thanks, inner critic.

Anyway, as you may know if you’ve visited this site before, I’ve always been anxious, with occasional dips into more extreme and crippling anxiety.

While this is obviously preferable to constantly living in extreme anxiety, for many years I still spent time fearing those extreme moments even when I felt otherwise okay.

I could never truly relax, even when I felt better.

This is the really pernicious aspect of anxiety I’d love to help others with: the way it intrudes on everything else, so you become anxious even when you’re not feeling that anxious!

I feel good! That makes me… suspicious…
… and now I feel anxious again. Great.

I plan to keep blogging here, so this site can be a helpful resource for the anxious (and a hopefully entertaining read for all), so joining a campaign like Blog for Mental Health feels like an obvious move.

So, without further ado, I shall now make the Official Blog for Mental Health pledge, in accordance with Ancient Prophecy:
(or the requirements of the project, anyway)

I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

And there we go.

Stick around as we continue to unpick anxiety, and eventually – hopefully – discover together what it means to be not only ‘not-anxious’, but happy too.

Guest Post: “98% of Fears”

Welcome by WaywardShinobi, on Flickr

Guests are welcome!

Photo © Nathan, WaywardShinobi on Flickr.
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License

To my genuine surprise, today I’m posting a guest blog post!

It had never occurred to me that anybody else would want to write something for this blog, so I was absolutely delighted yesterday to find this post in my email inbox.

Apparently Ian Denny had an idea and felt sufficiently motivated to write it up and send it in.

So, over to Ian…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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