Friday, October 21, 2016

A Momentary Lapse of Humor

Anxiety is agreeing to do a thing and then immediately regretting that agreement because you might mess it up or let the person down. This can happen even though you genuinely want to do whatever the task was to which you agreed.

My anxiety disorder is why mistakes I made forty years ago, things that were innocuous and completely forgettable to all others involved, come back and attack me about of nowhere. The vise grip of dismay, guilt, etc. returns phoenix-like as if no time has passed. My inner voice starts to berate me for my stupidity. Sometimes it's so fierce that I berate myself aloud, and have to consciously go to war with that abusive inner voice to remind me that I am actually quite clever and the mistake was minor and that no one in the universe (save me) cares about or remembers it.

It waking up in the middle of the night with a jolt of fight or flight because I forgot to do something.

In short, if you have never experienced sudden, crippling embarrassment about clapping too loudly while on a first grade theatre field trip or ordering an extra piece of chicken in front of a coworker who was on a diet fifteen years ago... or forgetting to lock the door even though you remembered almost immediately and went back to lock it... I cannot recommend against it strongly enough.

Combining an anxiety disorder with misophonia is extra fun. It means wanting to eat with others while watching TV, listening to music, or in a very loud place so that my reaction to the very natural eating noises people make when they chew will be more normal. It is knowing that even if I don't make angry face, I may still be caught looking (so I can identify the source of the sound, because that is the very minimum reaction possible) at dinner guest every time they make a noise unless I can focus on something else intently enough that I do not hear them.

And to jump back to my Anxiety, it is why I deleted the four paragraphs that originally went between anxiety and misophonia, because exposing the issues within made me too anxious.

Deposite all of that weirdness, I have still traditionally published seven novels, found the love of my life, become a father, made friends, and done well in a job which requires me to be far more outgoing than I prefer. As the great ichthyological philosopher Dory says, "Just keep swimming."

Everyone finds their own ways to deal with their own unique brain chemistry. My way involve a little bit of medicine, lots of love, an inclusive brand of Christianity (Jesus doesn't hate anyone, folks. He's all about love and inclusion.), a wonderful family, writing, and any number of hobbies ranging from Fountain pens, RPG's, old black and white movies, all types of music, and (more recently) learning to play the mandolin. It is knowing that I have to keep my brain busy and engaged or it will attack me more often. It is knowing that nothing is as bad as my anxiety tells me it is.

I'm not sure what I hope people get out of this post... unless it is this:

If someone looks at me, they cannot tell what is going on inside my head. As a result, I have to remember that I don't know what is inside their head either. The only real way to try and figure it out is through connection... to asking for clarification before assuming a verbal slight was intended. Do not disengage from the world. We need other people. We need relationships. Some of us even need medication or therapy. And that is okay. If you need help, get help.

Lastly, play nice. Do it if for no other reason than by being kind to others and you may find it a little easier to be kind to yourself.

About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment. 
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
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