VanArts Radio

Anxiety & Me

May 22 by Tony Draper

Anxiety is a pain in the ass. It's something almost all of us deal with every day. It doesn't matter if it's a small amount, or a big amount; it's usually there even if we don't realize or acknowledge it. Anxiety can come from a lot of places as well, it's just not really something you can avoid, and if you do, it usually just builds up and gets a little worse.

Seriously, this is coming from someone who has horrible anxiety in regards to most things. Beyond the normal high-school base anxiety I had when I was a teenager, which ranged any where from sports to relationships (of which I had none; I was a dopey little shit), I had a lot waiting for me at home.

Looking back on it, I think most of it was the attempted blending of families and such. Both my parents got remarried between junior high and high-school, so that was a pretty stressful time. But after that, I sort-of always had this feeling of someone squeezing my heart, and that's the feeling I equate to anxiety now.

It's this pressure that's always there. The squeezing comes and goes, but the general heaviness remains. For me, this feeling got infinitely worse back in late 2016, early 2017. I moved to Victoria (with my now ex) girlfriend and her friends. I'll try and give you the quickest run down I can. There were 7 of us living in a house. They were all theater students. I was a grumpy Southern Alberta boy. I was coming from a well paying job working for the city, to looking for work on the Island. Needless to say, I was a tad jaded and couldn't find anything I liked and started losing a lot of money to rent and groceries as I bounced around the odd landscaping job.

On top of all this, I didn't really have any friends of my own there. They were all friends of my ex, so it was like I was constantly dealing with everyone there with that in mind. I was there sort of as an after thought. I was “the boyfriend”. With no friends of my own to vent to, and struggling with finding “meaningful” work, I wasn't sleeping and it felt like my heart was in a vice grip. Not a good time.

I broke up with my girlfriend a week or two before my birthday in June, and we shared the house--and our room (I slept on a single mattress in the corner over the course of summer) until I moved to Vancouver at the end of August. It was a bad time.

I should acknowledge that this is all obviously from my point of view, and there were definitely things I could have done to make things better; but I dunno, it's also a two way street. That's what I like to tell myself anyways. The point is, my anxiety built up over this whole year experience and I just tried to ignore it. This only takes you so far, at the end of the day it's gonna show. It's kind of like getting shot, like, you should probably do something about the bleeding before you die, right? That's the best metaphor I have for it anyways. I should also say that I'm not blaming that whole year in Victoria for my woes, it's just a contributing factor, but lots of it WAS avoidable.

What I'm trying to say, in a super roundabout way, is that if you're suffering from that ever tightening grip on your heart, you should try to find a way to deal with it. And no, ignoring it isn't dealing with it. I'm not a doctor, but from my experiences, ignoring will just make it worse down the road. I'm still struggling with my anxiety, it's actually the worst it has ever been for me, but I don't think it makes me a lesser person or anything, I just need to try to find a way that works for me to deal with it. I'm super aware of how it's affecting me, and I think acknowledging it is super important.

If you're looking for one, I'm sure there's some cheesy inspirational quote about “looking on the inside to fix what's on the outside” that would apply to this, but I don't have that one for you. Sorry.

Anxiety is normal. It sucks, but it's normal. It's okay to talk about it, and we should. There are ways of dealing with it without letting it rule your life.

Cool? Cool.