Plague of the 21st Century: Anxiety

Anxiety began with a traumatic experience that I rejected to face with. I should say that first step to ease my anxiety was acceptance. I accepted that something was going wrong with me. I was constantly feeling suffocated with a heart beating so fast that it woke me up from my sleep. Before I begin a very limited telling of my journey of anxiety, I should confess that the character “Sky” in my short stories was me. I would like to call them as a part of my diary, rather than my short stories now. I wrote what I experienced, and “Sky” is the most precious product of this journey. I will be writing more about my sessions, and how I am doing. Here is so far what happened.

As I wrote in “Yet the Heart Beats Fast”, I felt a constant physical pain. I felt that something was literally punching my chest from the inside, and some force was trying to rip my ribs apart as if it had hands. At the same time, I felt an invisible hand wrapped around my neck, it was choking me. Yes, I wanted to punch my chest too hard to make my heart stop. I had the feeling that somehow I was stuck. In a poem, I wrote in “Yet the Heart Beats Fast” explains it the best: “I want to dance, but my roots are stuck”. I literally felt trapped within the boundaries of my body. As I said something was constantly trying to make its way out. This feeling had its ups and downs. I felt it the most at times when I was alone, or when I was surrounded  by crowds in a bus or in a café. A week might sound like a short time but try to live with a heart constantly beating fast and the feelings I listed above. It was a torture. Not even mentioning it was my finals week.

When the pain became unbearable I went to a psychiatrist. I described him the state I was in, and he told me that I was the creator of this feelings and that they were not real. Great, I was Frankenstein, what next? The next thing he told me that I had constant concerns about my future, and hence I was ruining my present. He was right, the future seemed so important that I constantly lamented for it, and forgot how precious my present was, and how the moments I ruined with concerns will never come back.

My therapist told me that time was the raw material of life and most important thing in life. By time, he meant present, not the past or future. Life happened at present. My sessions with my therapists – they were weekly sessions- made me consider on the constructedness of time. I have learnt that future DOES NOT EXIST as well as my PAST. The past was something that did not belong to me anymore. Blaise Pascal in his Human Happiness says that “We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light it throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end, thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy it is inevitable that we should never be so”. So my first task was carpe diem. I tried to explore the beauty of the present. I tried to make it meaningful. That does not mean I had ups and downs, of course, I did, the pain and the trouble were beautiful too. When I began my carpe diem journey I neither hope to spend my days in “born to be wild” rock ‘n roll wilderness nor hoped for rainbows and unicorns. I knew there would be trouble. Lots of them. But the important thing was not drowning in agony, thinking how the troubles I am experiencing at the moment will ruin or affect my future. I just felt what I had to felt at that moment, be it anxiety be it passion be it pain.

My sessions included the topic of happiness. We all pursue that, right? I was never able to define what happiness was. If I am to quote my favourite author Jeanette Winterson, she says in Passion that happy is an adult word, that you do not have to ask a child whether s/he is happy or not. You would see it. I had a huge concern for happiness. I was sad. I woke up every morning sad. In my second short story, “Heart is Calm”, I defined what happiness is not. Happiness is not a treasure hunt. You cannot go on a journey of happiness. I told this to my therapist and he replied: “What then is it, happiness?” I could not answer. I could define you what happiness is not, but I cannot define you what happiness is, because as Winterson says, you experience it. It is not meant to be defined. You are either happy or not.

Until now I told you about my therapy sessions if I dive into technics my psychiatrist prescribed me two anti-depressants, and two sedatives that slowed down the beats of my heart. Finally, I was able to sleep. I took the anti-depressant with the lower dose in the mornings after breakfast. I take the sedative around midday and the next dose of it before a meal. After a meal, I take the anti-depressant with the higher dose. I take another sedative before I go to bed. Too many pills, right? I am still on them, People condemned me. They thought I was weak enough to consult chemicals. Chemicals were bad. Whenever they saw me taking my pills they always covered their mouth with their hands and said “Do you think this is right?” in a very judgemental tone. Yes, I think it is right. They apparently regulate the chemicals that cause anxiety, but I was the one who changed my lifestyle, not the pills. This is not the first time I am using anti-depressants, but I never was able to get over my problem until I decided to go to a therapist. This is not a matter of being weak or strong. This is a matter of fighting, and as long as you are willing to fight your fears, the tools are not important.

 

 

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