Fear = a feeling of doom, unease, or apprehensiveness in response to imminent danger.
Anxiety = a feeling of doom, unease, or apprehensiveness when no danger is imminently present.
Anxiety is a bitch. And a bastard. Sexless, senseless, it free floats without a specific cause or object. It lurks under the bed like the bogeyman and rattles us awake at 2 in the morning. It swoops down from sunny skies above, claws extended.
It’s part of the human condition. We are all here temporarily, but we don’t know anything for sure, except that we will die one day. We are still trying to outrun the wooly mammoth to one degree or another. I sympathize with those who run in place daily in a panic.
I’ve been fortunate to elude the bogeyman as I’ve gotten older. I attribute my calmer state to an inherent Type B personality, less junk food, more yoga and writing and a devious imagination. When I find myself staring into a dreadful night, I switch my thoughts over to real fears. These at least are identifiable and can be reasoned with. For example, I can be grateful I do not have a tarantula on my pillow, nor do I have to crawl under the house, back a semi into a narrow parking lot or bungee jump off a tall jungle tree full of tarantulas.
Yeah! Life is good!
A far as I understand panic attacks, I think I’ve only had one in my life, about 20 years ago. I was driving south on the 405 Freeway, just past Long Beach, where it suddenly opens up to 12 lanes. Out of nowhere, the thought hit me, “Here I am in this tiny piece of metal hurtling along at 80 miles an hour, completely boxed in by others also hurtling along at 80 miles an hour.”
And, just like that, I had an out of body experience. My mind left my body and I could see this speeding mass below me. I started to shake. Since I was out of my body, who was driving? For another minute, I thought I was going to have to pull over. But I returned, sweaty hands firmly on the wheel, shaking until I passed Huntington Beach. It has never happened again.
What bothers me more today is the anxiety in other people – more specifically, the coping mechanisms they use from religious beliefs to controlling behavior. Religious or spiritual philosophies run the gamut (the anxiety gauntlet?) from “We can control nothing, god is in charge,” to “We can control everything if we have The Secret. If we think the right thoughts, we will attract the results we want.” Yeah, right. I’m still vibrating my energies into an Italian villa.
Mean bosses and co-workers are another example of unacknowledged anxiety run amok. They are impossible to please or to work with productively. For example, if you work quietly alone, they label you as not communicating or being a team player. If you ask questions and report in, then you are not self reliant or competent. And if you dare to point out that being stuck between a rock and a cement block is not a valid Employee Review category, well, that doesn’t go over well and soon you will be at the bottom of the canyon.
Bossy acquaintances bug me too. Rather than admit we are all on shaky ground, they prefer to come across as knowing all, which entitles them to offer advice. Constant advice on any topic, even if it’s not based on personal experience. After all, they feel so wise, how can the world not benefit from their endless wisdom? It’s astounding to watch this arrogance in action, but I do understand where it comes from, the Ax-word again.
“If I tell you what to do and feel, then I’ll feel more in charge. If I tell you how to avoid the jaws of flying dinosaurs, I won’t have to notice the one that’s coming after me.”
Let the bitch in, I say. And adopt the bastard.