Fine, Thanks

It would be nice if Anxiety Disorder could tell me what it wants.

“Hey,” it could say, “You need a nap.” Or, “Go eat some protein.” Or, “Put a sweater on.”

But no, all it can do is scream like a BIG DUMB BABY and sound the same alarm over and over again. Klaxon bells go off and sirens wail and the red strobe lights throw all sensory perception into a tizzy of surreal, confused urgency.


But…fix what, exactly? Do I need to eat? Sit up? Lay flat? Stand? Is this a body thing or a mind thing? Take a rest, or get up and exercise? Just breathe? Drink some water? Go back to sleep? Or did I sleep too much? Do I need to go to the bathroom? Call an ambulance? Is there TIME for an ambulance, or should we just rush to the hospital right now? Should I try to Think About Something Else, or hyper-focus and cry it out? Is this just a post-stress blowback because of that problem that I actually solved this morning just like a real grown-up, or is it because of all the items on my ever-looming list of Problems Yet to be Solved, or is this the ricocheting echo of a problem from 10 years ago that never really did get solved?

Is there actually anything wrong at all? Is this a false alarm? Did some trigger-happy trainee neuron push the wrong button? Should I cover my ears, roll my eyes, and wait patiently for a re-set?

But no, all Anxiety does is scream. And scream. And scream. And like a harried babysitter, I try to guess what it wants, run down the whole list, and finally resign myself to just waiting until it screams itself out and returns to its dormant state until next time, which could be any time.

Anxiety Monster about to bang pans together to wake me up

4 thoughts on “Fine, Thanks

  1. “fine thanks” is the perfect verbal expression of my daliy experience. Thank you so much for putting into words, what I have been unable to! I can’t tell you how much this alone helps my week.

    • Hey, thanks for the comment! I’m happy the article spoke to you! Now drink some water and remember to breathe. 🙂

  2. OMG, “Soul Exhaustion” is a perfect term.

    I’m glad you found the essay useful–I’ve been kinda questioning myself ever since it was published, like “Who the hell do I think I am, telling other people how to deal with this horrific and personal thing?”

    I don’t want to get into a lengthy existential discussion here, but I would say that there are indeed serious defects in this *level* of creation (this plane, this dimension, Earth, whatever) rather than Everything As a Whole, and that’s *okay*. Our physical world is flawed by nature, and our perspectives are limited. We can only see part of the whole thing from here, and it doesn’t seem very balanced. Dealing with that and living within it is really really hard sometimes. More than that I can’t say–I have some ideas about the nature of the extended Multiverse, but no way to prove them. I’m working on it. 🙂

    And thanks for writing at the time you did–I’m having an absolute shit week with it and your “out of the blue” commiseration actually helped.

    I hope you can find good reasons to stick around and keep bouncing back up.

    (If you aren’t familiar with Albert Camus’ work, you might look into that–he’s all about coming to terms with the absurdity of existence and enjoying yourself despite the inherent lack of meaning or purpose in anything.)

  3. I’m just dropping in to let you know that I’ve read your “Harness the Darkness” essay in the Llewellyn Witches’ Companion for 2020. It was the first one that I read through from start to finish. I have a pretty nasty case of the condition myself, and have made a half-assed attempt last year (the entrance to the lighthouse I wanted to jump from was locked). I have soul exhaustion and can’t find something to live for; this is fine during “normal” moments (I do have them, but only in quotes), but not even remotely bearable during, well, the rest of the time. I have taken medication in the past but not anymore. I’d actually rather suffer than pay the goblins pushing their pharmacological abominations on us. I agree that it’s not glamorous or romantic; to me it speaks to some serious defects at the core of this creation. Beyond a certain threshold, it’s clearly no longer about “lessons” or “experience for soul growth”. I’ve lasted for a while, but it feels like each impending episode can plausibly be the last. In fact, I mostly want it to. But the essay does feel like a worthwhile read, I’ll be referring back to it as this crazy year progresses.

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