I've been having some anxiety lately, probably because my roommate of six years, my best friend, is moving out, and major life changes cause me anxiety. For me, anxiety manifests as a kind of inaudible mental "buzzing" and depersonalization--a kind of scary detachment. When I was younger, this anxiety would scare the everliving shit out of me. I would feel like I was going crazy, like I was losing touch with reality, breaking down, like my life was gonna fall apart.
But now that I'm older, and I've had a good amount of experience with anxiety, I am less afraid. When it comes, I can say to myself, "Okay, I know what this is. I'm not losing my mind. It's just anxiety." I do not ignore it. Rather, I have learned how to deal with it. I spend time with family and friends. I have a psychiatrist and therapist, if need be. I can write. I can allow myself to relax--do breathing exercises. I have medication. But, most of all, I can counter fear with truth. That is the most powerful weapon. When you have anxiety, you tend to catastrophize--to fear the worst. But I have learned to fight those thoughts with the sword of truth. I am strong. I have people who love me. I have fought my way through hell before and I have prevailed.
And there's something else. One of my most powerful weapons is art. In the midst of my pain, I am comforted, even inspired, by the fact that I can turn my pain into art and writing, into something others might read or see and feel less alone. I am reminded of the lines from the novel The Wine of Astonishment, "Why did God lay on us this heavy burden?...Because we could bear it and rise."
And so, even in the midst of my anxiety, I am encouraged. I will take this burden and I will sublimate it into something beautiful.