Before we treat anxiety, we must remember that the therapist doesn’t always know what it's like being full of anxieties. The author Asaf Zippor attempts to demonstrate what a page out of such a patient's diary would look like
Anxieties manage me.
There are only three states that I'm familiar with: anxious, not-anxious, and walking on ice. In the anxious state I don’t sleep, I suffer from nightmares, I take tranquilizers, all I want is to get into bed and hide from the world, but when I lie in bed the anxieties rise, my heart beats quickly, my breath shortens, I am submerged by unrealistic fantasies about leaving it all behind and making a new life for myself in a protected place where the anxieties would never arise. I want something to make me forget the anxieties, but nothing helps. I want someone to examine me, an invasive examination, an examination that would scan every cell of my body, penetrating deep under the skin, into the digestive system, into the blood vessels. I'm terribly afraid that they'll find something there. I feel that there's something wrong, deep inside. I'm sure that the worst is about to happen. When I'm in an anxious state I don’t even remember that there were times in which there were no anxieties.
When I'm in a not-anxious state I don’t understand why there were so many anxieties the day before. In the not-anxious condition, I don’t remember what being in the anxious state is like. I'm happy. But most of the time I'm walking on ice. I feel as though I'm constantly walking on ice and the anxieties are underneath the ice. I walk and I know that somewhere, underneath the surface, there are anxieties. I feel that at any moment they might emerge through a crack in the ice. I feel that I have to tread carefully, because the ice may crack at any moment. I can walk, progress, live a seemingly-normal life, but I can constantly see the anxieties under the surface, seeking a way to emerge, waiting to take on form.
That's why anxieties manage me.
I run my life through avoidance. Anything I do in life – I do in order to avoid the anxious state. Any decision I make is meant to avoid having the anxieties arise. That's why I hate surprises. Unplanned events stress me out, because I wouldn’t have the time to examine if the anxieties may arise following the things that are happening. I don’t like new places. I don’t like change. I've built a protected environment for myself, a life devoid of surprises. I constantly avoid. The maximum I can aspire to is to be devoid of anxieties. I'm also constantly tired. It's exhausting being careful all the time. When I take anti-anxieties medication, I call it "hospitalizing myself". It's a domestic, personal, intimate hospitalization, but it's still a form of hospitalization. I go on with my life, seemingly as usual, but I'm actually hospitalized. And I don’t want to be hospitalized. I want to be free. But for that to happen, I need someone to hold my hand as I'm walking on the ice.
And this way, you can never be truly happy. Because in avoidance through fear, there is no joy.
Today was the first day in which I didn’t feel as though I was walking on ice. I feel it's a good start.
This post is also available in: Hebrew