Bad Poetry – Snapshots of Anxiety 2

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I recently dug up an old folder filled with scraps of paper and a dusty notebook that included some of the thoughts and some poetry from my earliest days of writing. As I poured over the old scribblings I remembered the time of my life that the had come from, a time when I was at my lowest, letting the darkness close in around.  I have since recognized how low I was during that time and been able to open up about my struggle with anxiety as I climbed up out of the pit.

What follows are many of thoughts and “poems” that I am calling Snapshots of Anxiety. They are each a look into my mindset during some of my greatest struggles and some are merely a single sentence. Many are just plain bad, but I thought they could provide a little insight to some out there, so here they come nonetheless.  I will try to follow each one with a bit more insight into the times and situations that triggered them, if I am able to recall the details. I would love to hear other veiwpoints on these and welcome comments and questions.

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This snapshot came with a rare bit of optimism attached to it, but with contingencies. It was more or less directed at other dreamers and hopes for their success. I had convinced myself that any dreams of mine were only to be chased and never captured. I could not find a compelling reason why I would be able to achieve anything that I reached for. Why me? Why would I find success over anybody else? I was just a part of the masses and nothing more. This was the driving argument.

My dreams of writing had only just developed and seemed more of a fleeting thought but it kept returning and brought a compulsion to put my thoughts down. It became my therapy just as much as my desire but I still would not let myself believe that I could ever make anything out of the idea, I scribbled away nonetheless, I guess just hoping that some form of divine intervention would intercede on my behalf and bring me up in spite of myself.

The one positive idea that I did employ while scratching away at papers and waiting on miracles was that at least I was not wasting the minutes by staring at walls, I was doing something, even if I was convinced that it was all for not. This has been my greatest struggle; even if I allow myself to try diving into something that I have dreamed of, I can’t let go of the idea that I am not good enough, that I can never make it work.  The “Why me?” argument persists and continually breaks down hope.

It was several years later that I refocused and realized that the question had changed. “Why would I be able to find success?” became “Why not me?” Why not any of us? We are not just a part of the mass that inhabits this world, we are individuals in a crowd and each one of us is capable of standing out.  It may not always be in the way that we hoped but any of us can find success in many ways. It may just be that we are asking the wrong question.

Walking Through Quicksand – Goodreads Giveaway

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Goodreads is running a giveaway for 20 signed print editions of Walking Through Quicksand through February 24th.  Enter the giveaway here

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Bad Poetry – Snapshots of Anxiety

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I recently dug up an old folder filled with scraps of paper and a dusty notebook that included some of the thoughts and some poetry from my earliest days of writing. As i poured over the old scribblings I remembered the time of my life that the had come from, a time when I was at my lowest, letting the darkness close in around.  I have since recognized my struggles from that time and been able to open up about my struggles with anxiety as I climbed up out of the pit.

What follows is the first of many thoughts and poems that I am calling Snapshots of Anxiety. They are each a look into my mindset during some of my greatest struggles and many merely a single sentence. Many are just plain bad, but I thought they could provide a little insight to some so here they are nonetheless.  I will try to follow each one with a bit more insight into the times and situations that triggered them if I am able to recall the details.

on-the-wall-tick-tock-tick-tock

I remember this one very well.  I was in an apartment that was shared with three others, one of whom was a cousin (we did have separate bedrooms), so it was not like I was isolated and alone during this time.  I had just returned to college after a failed business attempt and was lost in my life. I was somewhat lost before I started the business which was one motive for setting out on my own, but I think that I let that drive me too much and I didn’t properly prepare for the future and for the consequences.  After it failed I let all my past pain and regret flow in and quickly sunk into the dark places of the mind.

I was sitting in my room thinking about my failures when the ticking of the wall clock started to catch my attention and reminded me of all the time that I had wasted in trying to accomplish something.  Part of me seemed to have been searching for darkness so I only focused on what was lost not the fact that I had returned to school to further my education, or that I had checked off a career path that I now knew I did not want to follow. The only time that was really wasted was that which was spent reflecting on time that I thought was wasted. A simple change of perspective is night and day and there is always good to be found, although we may sometimes have to search harder than others.

Living of Two Minds

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My dad read my book just a few days ago then called me with a few questions about the subject matter. He asked the first few merely to try and delicately steer the conversation to the question that he actually wanted to be answered. Basically I had to reassure him that I didn’t have a drug problem. After the phone call I realized that my dad didn’t really know both halves of me. I had had this same thought before, but it was fleeting. This was the first time that I really reflected on it. You see, the book, while it is about drugs and addiction, is also about anxiety and depression. I have now, just within the last few days, allowed myself to freely admit that I suffer from anxiety.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with what an anxiety condition actually is, its more than being nervous or worried; it’s a roller coaster of emotions, often without reason; its quick mood swings that can be shifted by the most menial of things; its disparaging yourself, your decisions, everything that you have ever done; it’s the highs and lows of that roller coaster. The deep troughs are usually only seen by close family and maybe some close friends, but my dad had only really ever seen the top half of the coaster. My parents had divorced a long time ago so it wasn’t hard to keep that half of me from being seen by him and I have grown quite adept in hiding that part of my life from the world. My mom, brother, sister, and now, my wife all know it well but not really anyone else. They know the balance that I have struck and witnessed the steep drops followed by the steep climb back up the other side. But, like I said, the lulls are reserved to be viewed by only a few people in my life. Most see what my dad sees, the normal, above ground, highs and lows.

It is less like there are two halves of me than there are two minds. Each has its own perspective. They battle for control of thought, one a motivator, the other an oppressor. The motivator drives life forward, encouraging and hopeful. Even when life requires a reevaluation due to a bad direction of poor choices, the motivator moves in a positive direction.

The oppressor can accomplish the same end of examining poor choices and direction but does so by self-deprecation. It pushes one back into a small, loathsome corner by reliving past regrets and poisoning confidence with self-doubt.

Once the two start battle, the oppressor usually wins out, it is far more aggressive. The motivator can win on its own from time to time but more often than not it will need some assistance. The trick is to find some form of relief to fall back on, something that can vent out some of the oppressor’s steam so that it has less power to wield. That relief could be anything and will vary for everyone; something as simple as sitting outside to watch the trees blow or be much more complex like solving differential equations, for me that has been writing, and recently, sharing my thoughts. I let the oppressor’s ideas soak into paper which takes away some of its aggression, not all but enough that I can feel like I am in more control. All the while I pass through the world with a select few individuals ever knowing both of the minds that battle within me.