a visual depiction of my anxieties

I drew this back in May, to try and put how I feel down on paper visually. This is what extreme anxiety feels like. Crushing. All-consuming. Inescapable.

5 thoughts on “a visual depiction of my anxieties

  1. Dear Storms,

    I acknowledge your distress.

    Crushing? Yes. All-consuming? Yes. Inescapable? Actually no, as I shall explain in due course.

    I feel for you my friend.

    A longer more detailed reply is in progress and will be on here soon.

    But in the meantime, all the evidence is that you are within yourself a beautiful utterly lovable soul who is worth the best.

    Hold tight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have known many of the anxieties you disclose; in the past I have so often been told that I’m just ‘too much’ at the same as continuously feeling that I am not and can never be ‘enough’.

    You are not ‘anxious’ per se, i.e. it is not a permanent structural feature of your self, like your eye colour or your height; anxiety is something you are doing, something that you learned to do, most probably from an early age and probably in response to feeling continuously threatened. So therefore it is a question of learning something new to replace it.

    It is not that everything makes you anxious, it is that you have acquired the habit of over-estimating danger because that was the truth of your early years. It is as if you have grown up in some kind of psychic war zone.

    There are also undercurrents of impossible parental expectations of perfect performance as a matter of course which you have seemingly internalised and now experience as your own anxieties. It is as if you were never allowed to feel good about yourself, so you have normalised being harsh on yourself.

    This graphic of your anxieties strongly suggests to me that you could have suffered serious trauma as well as the invalidating childhood already mentioned. A lot of what you describe is a perfectly rational response to some of the grim experiences you must have had, so it is no surprise that your self-confidence has been dented.

    Sadly it seems to be exacerbated by an expectation that you ‘get over it’, as if someone (family? partner?) is gaslighting you by denying your quite legitimate distress. Another telling example of ‘define or be defined’ that was so severe that you have internalised it at the expense of your own inner wisdom.

    Restricting your engagement with the world at large is simply an auto-protection response, completely reasonable in your circumstances. Going to an Air BnB, out running, out on the scooter, learning Thai, writing, learning sign language, practicing the fiddle, using your talents more, all require a measure of self-acceptance that you were somehow sadly prevented from learning in your formative years. So your task is to start learning it now. A tough call for sure, but not doing so will be worse. According to Socrates:

    “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

    Divide and conquer. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    In the long-term, you will be able to walk away from the medication, they are just temporary support. As some psychologist famously observed, ‘They will stop you from drowning, but they won’t teach you how to swim.” View them as temporary support while you teach yourself to swim.

    I recommend those books I mentioned, ‘Beyond Fear’ by Dorothy Rowe, and her follow-up, ‘The Successful self’, ‘Women who love to much’ by Robin Norwood and ‘People of The Lie’ by M. Scott Peck, because they contain a lot of examples of how people get themselves out of the pickle you are currently in. As well as revealing where all my ideas come from.

    At root, you are NOT your ‘diagnoses’. You are fighting back, not least with this blog. Down, maybe, from time to time, but certainly not out.

    Fiddle playing – music is particularly therapeutic, especially singing, because of the embodiment, and collaborating with others. Could you find a guitar, piano, mandolin player to practice with?

    Just as adult romance cannot fix an invalidating childhood, neither can friendship, or compulsive sex, or gambling, or shopping, or making lists, or attending self-help groups, or ‘rescuing’ broken people, or self-cutting, or whatever.

    Presumably ‘Why can’t you just have sex like a normal person?’ is something someone said to you, or you say to yourself. Clearly you feel anxious about some aspect of your sexuality? My personal view is that female sexuality is the most beautiful thing on earth (after music). I think every woman has a right to sexual satisfaction however she wants with whoever she wants. Having multiple partners, loving women, whatever, it is all part of the enchanting mysterious beauty of femininity. To be revered and indulged as much as you want. So if ‘like a normal person’ reflects guilt or shame about any of your desires, then I hope you can get past that and luxuriate in your chosen sensual pleasure, because anything and everything between consenting adults has its own beauty. Practice makes perfect! And I hope you find someone or people to help you on this beautiful exploration. As Oscar Wilde noted:

    “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”

    But this is another ‘easier said than done’ if you came from a repressive or dangerously religious background. A counsellor, herself a middle-aged woman with teenage daughters, once told me that some of her adult clients had sexual difficulties caused by unconscious hostility from their mothers who suffer intense unacknowledged sexual jealousy of their teenage daughters, because they are emerging into sensuous erotic peak-fertility bloom just as theirs is fading into menopause. And the problem is aggravated if the men of the family show even the merest hint of inappropriate appreciation of daughter’s emergence into womanhood.

    It is sadly just possible that ‘like a normal person’ could be referring to something sinister, such as the compulsive pursuit of risky medically dangerous sexual behaviour, possibly strangers, in the attempt to assuage a terrifying sense of emptiness, a momentary validation rather than to satisfy erotic desire. In which case addressing the emptiness must be the priority.

    It is not true that nobody likes you. But it could easily be true that you are not very practiced at spotting who ‘gets’ you and who doesn’t. Who is good for you and who isn’t. There are bound to be a lot more people who like you than you realise. I certainly like the you I have met on here. You love intensely and that is supremely beautiful. You are obviously a very gifted writer and poet who comes across as highly intelligent, literate, perceptive, intuitive, artistic, musical and with a great deal of emotional sensitivity. Deep within you there is a beautiful artistic soul. You are someone with a lot offer in friendship.

    I just read you your latest piece ‘The night we met’ which included :

    But with you, I could breathe easy. It was effortless…

    For the first 6 month of us being together, I didn’t think about my past once.
    I was so happy. So content.

    So, I thank you for that.

    Then further down:

    But slowly, it crept back in.

    So it can and does happen that you transcend the past, for six months at least, and with delightful results. This is your hope for the future. Note it is not that he ‘made you happy’, it is that something in his behaviour, or your behaviour, and/or their interaction, or even something either of you didn’t do, that enabled you to make yourself happy, to forget the past. Crucially it was your doing, it was within you, it was your mind that put the past away. Now all you have to do is track down that something, which will probably also reveal what went wrong. The past is not a thing that creeps anywhere. It is a set of ideas that you returned to prominence. So again, what was it in his behaviour, or your behaviour, or what either of you did, or stopped doing and/or their interaction that made your mind put the past back in the front of your thoughts?

    All the therapy book say you can only make yourself happy, no-one else can make you happy, you can’t make anyone else happy etc, and now you have some reliable clues to investigate.

    Good hunting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. TW : Sexual trauma

    I wish to correct something I said in a previous post, on the subject of sex with strangers, in reply to the anxiety of “Why can’t you just have sex like a normal person?” on that graphic.

    My paragraph that referred to sex with strangers as sinister and dangerous, which started with the words ‘sadly it is just possible….’ should not have been posted, I meant to edit it out, as it does not explain the points I was trying to make.

    Essentially, having sex with strangers is just another personal choice for those who are so inclined, just like anything and everything else. If it is one of your pleasures I wish you every happiness! It is worth remembering that the majority of rapes are perpetrated by persons who known the victim, and most child abuse occurs within a family context, so strangers are actually statistically a lot safer than acquaintances and relatives, and by a substantial margin. It is all there in the published researched data.

    Importantly, those who have been sexually traumatised can often suffer a crippling loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, so there are considerable gains to be made from instigating and taking control of sex in terms of recovering vital psycho-sexual autonomy, and choosing strangers could be an enjoyable and empowering part of recovery. This is especially important in our repressive culture of onerous ‘slut shaming’ that is sadly increasingly prevalent as our society swings ever further to the right. And it will likely be more fun than interminable therapy groups.

    The anxiety of “Why can’t you just have sex like a normal person?” resonated with me quite strongly, but I think of it more as “Why can’t I just have the kind of sex I want?” because for me ‘normal’ is contentious in such matters.

    Sexual trauma may be more than the recipient’s psyche can accommodate. In an attempt to cut off the source of the mental pain, the recipients’s psyche may try to mitigate the trauma of the violation by rejecting or denying the intrinsic sexuality of the body. The trauma of the violation can also create a conditioned fear response to sexual feelings, typically subconsciously, such that later when autonomous adult sexual behaviour is voluntarily pursued, it can get disrupted, diverted, or obstructed by the bodily denial, and/or the conditioned unconscious fear, which diminish fulfilment in some way.

    So the question of doing ‘sex like normal people’ may not actually be a sexual issue at all, but a kind of self-rejection. A kind of temporarily distorted sexual self-acceptance that was created as an emergency survival/self-preservation response that is now blocking adult functioning.

    Essentially more black echoes.

    Biologically, we humans are simply sexual, just as we are musical, just as we are linguistic. The categories gay, straight, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and so forth are not science-based. They are cultural concepts that carry a lot of toxic cultural baggage.

    Homosexual and lesbian are nouns and adjectives that have become reified for reasons of pernicious social control, but in our behavioural reality they are verbs.

    We vary behaviourally only according to the mix of choice, circumstance and opportunity that we may find in whatever social niches we inhabit.

    So actually it is long-term heteronormative monogamy that is deviant from a biological point of view, not the other way round.

    Famously years ago there was that GP who said ‘If everybody had the sex they wanted, there would be no neuroses’.

    It has already been said that ‘adult romance cannot fix and invalidating childhood’, and I think many people cling to the pursuit of white picket fence monogamy in the similarly doomed hope of securing the loving acceptance missing from childhood, at the expense of their true desires.

    What we can so easily forget is that the main human sex organ is actually between the ears, not the legs – that is just where they put the switch and the plumbing.

    In his Tolstoy satire, ‘Love and Death’, Woody Allen played a character pursuing sex with the leading lady, played by Diane Keaton. She spurns his advances saying, “But Dimitri, sex without love is an empty meaningless experience”. He shrugs his shoulders, turns to the camera and says “Well yes, but as empty meaningless experiences go, it is one of the best.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your clarification.
    Your line about clinging to the white picket fences of monogamy to make up for a lack of acceptance as a child really resonated with me. And you out it so well. I think I definitely do that.

    I think maybe my most recent post might shed some light on the issues surrounding that matter. Though I am reluctant to actually post directly about the trauma I experienced, and put it out there on the internet. So it will remain in cryptic poems I’m afraid.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful response

    Storms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Storms

      You are welcome! And thank you for your superb writing. Again, if anything I said helped, great, it also helps me to get my thoughts in order by writing them down.

      I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with monogamy per se, like everything, as long as it is voluntary, between consenting adults etc. The problem is more ‘it ain’t what you do, it’s the why do you do it?’ ie the typically unconscious expectations.

      I think it is prudent to be cautious on the internet.

      I myself am currently preoccupied with my urge to disclose certain things which conflict with my desire for anonymity. Disclosure is a thorny issue, not least because one of the ways the perpetrator harms the victim is by shaming them, making them somehow responsible for their crimes.

      Your cryptic poems are superb; they reveal certain difficult truths with only minimal detail, which actually makes them even more powerful. The date and postcode are superfluous. And anyway, the benefits of disclosure are not the actual details per se, but what the emotional consequences are, because they are what informs the present, and how you can ameliorate the consequences of your misfortune.

      I realise that your words are your healing, but I can’t help but notice the quality of your writing – if you wanted to write thrillers or TV and movie scripts, you surely could.

      I have just read ‘Renewing’, and I will reply at greater length later. I sense your distress, but also the catharsis of disclosure. Better out than in. I think that word by word you are releasing the shackles of earlier distress, though maybe it will temporarily feel worse as it gets better.

      James

      Liked by 1 person

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