Anxiety and Writing

anxiety1Anxiety is a funny thing.

Sickness in your stomach, reasonless and unnameable.  Agitation in your blood, burning from the inside out; that constant undercurrent of adrenaline that you can neither focus nor master. That relentless feeling of tension – like there is something over you, or behind you, or something you haven’t done, or some confrontation you’re anticipating…

And that exasperating, hovering sense of inadequacy, buzzing at you flylike – that, really, you’re better than this and you should get a fucking grip.

Exercise helps, then at least the adrenaline is useful for something, Walking brings focus and clarity of mind, running allows you to channel your tension into the release-high of endorphins – enables your body to function and it should and – amazing! – the nameless deamons of your fear are gone in the steam of breath and sweat.

Alcohol helps, bringing contentment and that glorious warm glow of actual weariness – it lures you with sweet relief and the empty promise of a good night’s sleep. But that way madness lies; it’s the ‘easy way out’ and the exit point is nowhere you need to be.

There are pharmaceutical options, offered by Doctor or friend, some legal and some not, all enticing for the offer of quiet they bring. But though they will not wake you in the small hours of the morning as booze will, just to taunt you with how they’ve cheated you, they will lull you into a semi-permanent doze, a somnolence that blurs your life to apathy and soft focus.

And that comes with a price – an inability to write. Words need passion, and their absence is not a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

And yet.

In the words themselves there’s relief. It’s not the exultant ‘fuck you’ offered by maniacal exercise, it’s not the comfortable seduction offered by alcohol or drugs. It’s a third option, a clean option, a route to somewhere outside – it’s as though a door opens to a new place – a place you know and that you’re familiar with, a place you can relax and be at ease with the world around you.

A place where you’re in control, perhaps.

I’ve written almost all my life; in the times where I forgot how, I missed it like a friend.

This is the first time I’ve ever realised why.



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