The beast isn’t beautiful

“I Quit Sugar” queen Sarah Wilson was the subject of an ABC article last week that focussed on her anxiety issues.

I could relate to much of what she wrote. The anxiety has been strong in this one recently.

When I wake in the middle of the night, sometimes literally with a gasping start, it feels like a four-year-old child is standing on my chest.

I don’t see any beauty in that beast. I only see inconvenience and weariness.

Sarah writes in her book, “First, We Make The Beast Beautiful”: “There’s no point wishing I didn’t have anxiety; it is what it is.

“But I also wouldn’t give it up. I wouldn’t give back the richness, the depth, the emotional spectrum I’ve experienced.

“Anxiety is the thing that takes you down, this anxiety about not knowing what life is about takes you down. But it’s also the thing that ultimately takes you to where the answer lies.”

Fark that. I’d give it up in a second. It’s awful.

Besides, everyone knows the answer is 42.

But her words did make me feel slightly better – they were a reminder I’m not alone.

They also got me thinking: why do so many former magazine editors have anxiety? Does being a “creative type” make you more vulnerable?

Wilson writes: “Flooding through my head are thoughts about the emails that I need to send in the morning. I come up with an opening line for my next chapter. I map out my route to work tomorrow.

“I come up with an idea for a friend’s business, and the logo. And I work out the significance of one of Adele’s lyrics.

“These thoughts happen all at once in an explosion outwards.”

Sometimes people have trouble following me when I talk because the explosion of thoughts bursts out of my mouth at bullet-fast speed.

Unlike Sarah, who was diagnosed at 12 with anxiety, it’s relatively new for me. The brick-in-my-chest feeling came along some time after having my first child. I suspect it was a combination of dancing with PND and a harrowing job that eventually resulted in heart palpitations and unrelenting misery.

I’ve never been good at meditation or yoga or facials or massages or any of those other things that are supposed to be stress relievers – they just panic me more. I worry about the productive things I should be doing rather than “nothing”. Nothing is bad, nothing is wrong, nothing is lazy. I even have trouble watching tellie these days, it seems like such an extravagant time waster.

One thing (I’ve discovered recently) that calms me is the ocean. I can feel like I’m about to shatter into a million pieces, but entering the sea washes the feelings away.

Blogging centres me too. I find releasing the negative thoughts onto a keyboard therapeutic and, in the same way that Sarah’s words spoke to me, hopefully mine speak to others.

I’m fortunate to be incredibly high-functioning. The anxiety doesn’t stop me doing anything other than sleeping … oh, and relaxing.

But still, I wish it would leave me in peace.

I’d happily sacrifice whatever benefits Sarah thinks the “beast” offers for peace.

Song of the day: The Pretenders “I go to sleep”

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4 thoughts on “The beast isn’t beautiful

  1. Yep to all of that. I can sit with my anxiety, but it sure ain’t pretty. I get where she’s coming from, but I’ll never embrace anxiety as beautiful. I’d give anything not to have that recurring tight pain in my chest.

  2. I’ve lived with long term anxiety too and it has had a huge impact at times. It has put some major limits on my personal and professional progress. I’ve learned ways to manage it, as you do over time, but I would give it up in a flash! I haven’t read Sarah’s book yet so I can’t comment on that, but I don’t see much beauty in my experiences so far.

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