Thursday, August 22, 2013

I'm Addicted to My Anxiety

Even as I write this sentence I’m freaking out that my entire business that I’ve been running for the past 6 years is going to fall apart in one instant. Just one bad call. One crappy email. One server blip and the entire system shuts down for good. It’s all over and there’s nothing I can do about it….but I think I can. I know I can. All I have to do is check my email 600 times a day. All I have to do is work 14 hours a day and stay glued to the computer. I just have to keep checking and checking and checking. All I need to do is call up my business partner and know that he’s there. That’s he’s alive. That the business still exists. I just need to check Facebook to see that he’s updated his page to know he’s out there somewhere tending to things like I am. That he's alive. If the sites go down I’ll worry even more. I won’t eat. I won’t sleep. I won’t do anything but worry. I think that by doing these things it’ll help my cause. I think that by constantly focusing on that thought that it’ll magically restart the servers or put money in my bank account. I actually believe the mess I put myself in is in some way a panacea to a real world problem that doesn’t even exist yet. I don’t really think that but I act that way anyway. My logical mind tells me all the facts but I’m not dealing with logic here. I never have been. And that my friends is the rub. That’s the thought that pains me every single day and kicks my ass time after time. It’s the battle I’ll never win but am convinced I can. It’s my addiction to anxiety.

That feeling may not be at the forefront of my mind all the time. The world isn’t always about to crumble for me. I sometimes feel in control. I sometimes rationalize and even believe that things are OK. But in some way, shape or form, that feeling is there 100% of the time. It may be dormant but it’s there. Waiting to strike and waiting to once again take me over. No matter where I go. No matter who I speak to. No matter what people tell me. No matter how many facts are in front of my face. No matter how many emails I read. No matter how many reassurances I get. No matter how much my wife loves me. No matter how many times my son smiles. No matter how much money I see in the bank account. Everything always points to the inevitable downfall and crash of my existence. Wait a second, I thought it was my business we were talking about here. Nope, it’s me, myself, who I am and what I’m worried can happen in the future. It’s my anxiety talking and it’s my anxiety winning as it usually does.

 I’ve run the searches. I’ve looked for the books. I’ve tried my best to find the answers. But you know and I know that when you have anxiety and it doesn’t go away those answers don’t exist. They’ll never exist as long as you’re in a perpetual state of worry. Sure there are books on addiction. 1000’s if not a million on the subject. Anxiety? The entire world is filled with anxiety. But anxiety as an addiction itself is something I’ve had a hard time reading about let alone finding an entire book on the subject. Sure there are articles like this one by Judith Orloff called “Are you an Anxiety Junky? 7 Strategies to Break the Addiction” It’s a nice little article that gives you a 6 question test to determine whether or not you are addicted to your anxiety and then it gives you 7 techniques to overcome it. Things like eliminating coffee and sugar from your diet, avoiding people who reinforce your fears, taking deep breaths. That’s all well and good and the article is much appreciated but if you’re like me, the issue runs a hell of a lot deeper than doing a couple of “ohhhhmmmms” in my business chair and then life returning back to “normal.”

Having an addiction to anxiety is like any other addiction only it’s worse because it’s all in your mind. Am I saying that my anxiety has caused me so much peril in my life that I’ve wound up committing adultery and alienating my wife? Nope. Did I wind up in a dumpster after an all-night anxiety “bender?” Nope. In fact I live in a nice home, have a nice wife, a son, make a decent income, and am a highly functioning individual in society. So what the hell is wrong with me? I will never know. Let me say that again so I feel better about this situation. I will never know. Thing is, I know, but 99% of the time I’m battling myself trying to figure out an answer I’ll never find. Trying to win a battle that can’t be won. It’s a battle many of us face. Some more than others. For some, it does get to the point of rash, real life consequential actions. Some anxiety does push people over the edge. It does cause people to drink. It can lead you to seek out pleasure from prostitutes. It might cause the destructive paths you see other addicts taking. But what if the addiction to start with itself were anxiety? Can this even be possible? I’ve got 34 years of living proof that it isn’t only possible, it exists in me, and probably millions of other people. Some folks just handle it better than others. I’m not saying one addiction is necessarily better than the other, but for me personally I argue that my addiction is worse because it’s in my mind and there’s nothing I can do to get rid of it. Does that mean there’s nothing I can do? Nope. But I know it will never, ever, as hard as I try, be gone. Ever. So how is this worse than other addictions? Well, if you have a drinking problem, you stop drinking. Or at least you try. One day at a time you try not to drink. If you’re addicted to heroin, you stop doing heroin. Or at least you try. But what if you’re addicted to worry? What if you’re addicted to incessant thoughts that never seem to fade? There’s no stopping something like that. Sure you can take a pill. You can drink to alleviate the pain. You can even do crack, heroin, or cocaine to make it go away. But eventually it always rears its little head. When your mind is where the problem exists it’s one of the toughest problems to solve. But as I’ve learned, it’s not a problem that can be solved. It’s only something that can be managed. So welcome to my blog, the 3 or 4 of you out there who are reading this. Let's ride this wave together and not figure this thing out at all. Let's just go with it and try to have fun along the way.

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