Google tells me: “Anxiety is practising failure in advance. Anxiety is needless and imaginary. It’s fear about fear, fear that means nothing.” Actually, that’s a quote from American author Seth Godin, but I found it through a Google search, and it is very applicable and true and I like it.
But my problem is not with confronting my anxiety, my problem is getting rid of it.
I always thought anxiety would mean just being nervous or unsure about something, getting over it, conquering the fear, and going about my day, but that’s only the first part of it. That part is easy to confront. I can rationally talk about a problem or a fear or a concern with another human being — or even myself — and come to a rational, thought out, conclusion where it makes sense, where my perception is wrong to the reality I am facing.
However, the problem is what happens when you cannot shake those feelings of uneasiness?
Here’s a scenario: There is a lamp in a room, you try to turn it on but it doesn’t light up, so you think it is broken. Then you see the lamp is just unplugged and you plug it back in. But guess what, you still think the lamp is broken. You’ve found a problem, addressed it, and yet it still feels like it hasn’t been solved. This is my anxiety. Most of the time, it eventually passes, but for those moments, minutes, hours, days, and sometimes even weeks, I live with thoughts of doubt, paranoia, and a complete lack of self efficacy. Just generally feeling negative about my life despite that besides cancer, everything is pretty par for the course of life.
So as much as I want to get that nice pick-me-up that Seth Godin’s quote is intended to give, in those moments of fear and anxiety and depression, that fear isn’t nothing, it is all you think about. So while I can read those quotes from famous people telling me “don’t worry, be happy,” and agree with them for the most part, it is not what I want to hear when the anxiety I am feeling is making me irritated and completely unfocussed.
But the anxiety passes and fades away eventually and I can get usually get back to not feeling anxious (I did not want to say “normal”). I have cancer, other people have cancer, someone reading this might have some other chronic illness, my point is we are all people and being anxious and worried and fearful about how something scary is normal.
Anxiety and depression are normal parts of dealing with a lot of what we experience, and the most important part is being able to recognize that this is not who you are, just what you are experiencing. Recognizing that has helped me find the best ways to deal with it and so I can get back to doing what it is I need to be doing. I deal with it by talking to my wife, to the family and friends who I know I can go to for support when things get tough, and I also have a fantastic counsellor I go to see twice a month, because that is what I need to do to get myself the best care I can do for myself.
My take home for this is to find out the best way to deal with whatever you’re feeling, because what you are feeling is completely normal and OK, what is not normal is letting it stop you from living your life.