Is This the AGE OF ANXIETY?
I recently reconnected with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in over 15 years. As we began talking she opened up about her experiences suffering from anxiety and depression. This was a conversation I had heard many times before. I began to realise how common these ‘disorders’ are and that maybe there is something deeper to be understood. At times in life its natural and, sometimes important to feel stressed or depressed. But dealing with these intense emotions on a daily basis, is that natural? And is it natural to be on anti- depressants for extended periods? But what really worries me is the fact that no one has stopped to think that maybe, there’s something more going on here than just pill popping and chemical imbalances.
I began asking myself a number of questions. What is Anxiety? How does it come about? And why do so many of us suffer from it? If for some reason you come from far off planet and you’ve never experienced anxiety or panic attack, ill explain it to you.
It starts off with uncontrollable racing thoughts. Its there’s this voice in your head that screams out judgements and mistakes. Perhaps not immediately or everyday but eventually you have a panic attack, which is worse than your worst nightmare. Your heart races, your sweaty, paralysed by fear of death, you vomit, you cry, and you cant stop shaking, and just when you accept your own death, the tidal wave washes away, and your heart ascends to its normal Bpm.
From my research and own experience generalised Anxiety disorder is a way of thinking that doesn’t incorporate the present moment, It’s a pattern of thinking that happiness or success, is always in the future. One could argue that stress isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, sometimes the right amount of pressure can be motivating, however, the key terms here being ‘right amount of pressure’. Have you ever noticed how anxious people tend to make more mistakes? Anxious people have clouded judgement due to the fact that they can’t focus on the problem at hand when there’s this incessant chatter going on about the future. Have people always been anxious? and, what are anxious about?
"Trauma and toxic stress are the number one health epidemics in America today." - Bob Roth
Anxiety isn’t something new, It’s been around since humans were facing saber tooth tigers and wooly mammoths, Its called fight or flight syndrome. Feeling fearful in the face of danger is obviously normal, your body naturally releases adrenaline to keep you safe from harm. But the reality is there’s no dinosaurs or woolly mammoths here anymore, so what do we fear? We fear our boss, we fear the landlord, we fear we don’t have enough money, that we aren’t pretty enough, we fear that nobody likes us. Sheryl Sandbergs best seller Lean in explains the cultural ideologies why women in the workforce lack self confidence. Statistics show that Anxiety disorders are more common amongst women than men in today’s world. Perhaps Anxiety is linked to Self doubt?
How to effectively rule a society, to be loved or be feared? Fear is seems is the chosen answer, and its breeding in western socio-economic societies through clever marketing of consumerism, materialism and individualism. In subtle way our internal dialog is being persuaded by a paradigm of power+ money = happiness. The revelation is, this paradigm is a lie, and its becoming more and more obvious.
Most of us will never be rich or powerful, but the media infiltrates this ideology that if you buy this, if you look like this, and own this, you will be powerful, rich and happy. In turn this creates a society of consumers working extremely long ours at the service of large co-operations, trying to make enough money to have that dream house, that dream car and that dream body. Images in the media are representing what the ideal happy life should look like. But in reality, personal wealth and material gains only bring moments of satisfaction, not long lasting happiness. I’m afraid that these ideologies are progressively molding our perception of reality, and leaving nothing but docile apathetic consumers for the next generations to come.
Many beautiful, rich and powerful celebrities have expressed suffering from depression. The death of well-known funny man Robin William shocked the world and was a calling for a new dialog on mental illness. Neuroscientist Steve Ilardi in his Ted talk Brain chemistry life hacks said ‘I don’t think humans were meant for this type of world, its our lifestyle that causing problems.’ In order to change our lifestyle we must first change our individual lives, starting within.
“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it’s all about.” -Joseph Campbell
I’m not supposing that everyone needs to meditate or practice yoga everyday, but the things that will relive us from this anxiety epidemic are the same things that are lacking in the world today. Mindfulness, presence, love, compassion, and most importantly Awareness. The moment you become aware is the moment you are liberated from the neurotic voice in your head, and soon enough the voice will completely disappear, along with all the stupid mistakes, bad judgments and self doubt. So start today ! Build strong meaningful connections with your friends, give some old belongings away to someone who might need them, be present with your partner, read a book, and for god sake turn off the television, or better yet just get rid of it!
Thankyou for reading please leave a comment below. Be kind.