Polly Vernon does Anxiety: part 1
I was astonished to learn that – in media currency terms, AKA the terms in which I deal - anxiety is no longer The Hot Emotional Affliction Ruining Most Our Lives. Anxiety has occupied that illustrious position since 2009, when the credit crunch kicked in, in earnest; and it had ruffled the feathers of our assumed collective serenity, disrupted our sleep, haunted our dreams when we did manage to sleep, while never falling below a low grade buzz of emotional tinnitus at all other times – for five long years. You could tell, because all available TV channels and newspaper supplements started running programs and articles about THE ANXIETY EPIDEMIC ENGULFING OUR SHORES, thereby ensuring that anyone who wasn’t already overcome by angst, would be by the time they finished watching / reading.
But according to all my sources, anxiety is yesterday’s news. It’s been toppled by (drum roll) anger, which is overwhelming us as a consequence of our increased tendency to mainline a heady cocktail of coffee, booze and social media. This makes sense. Anyone who’s got really really cross about a tweet they read while drinking a Flat White which inevitably resulted in them consuming half a bottle of Albarino in the interest of calming themselves down again, only oops, while tipsy, they ended up replying to the cross-making Tweet with a cross-making Tweet of their own, and now they’re having a full-blown Twitter feud with someone they’ve never even met in the flesh, and so they’re angrier still… will tell you that.
Yeah, so anger’s the new anxiety. Why then, am I still very much mired in an anxious phase?
Maybe it’s because I have form on an anxious disposition, one which predates anxiety as a broader, post-recession social trend by the whole of my life. I could construct my autobiography in terms of the angst I experienced at different periods. There was the Nuclear war phase (1979 – 1984), the absolute conviction that I’d be fitted up for a crime that I didn’t commit the very moment I came of age in criminal responsibility terms phase (85 – 87), the AIDs phase (87 – 89), the no-one will ever love me phase (89 – 92) and the I’ve got no money and am going to end up on the streets phase (93 – 97). After which, my worries got a little more diffuse and non-specific, though no less pronounced (am I good enough? Is my memory loss stress-related, or early-onset-alzheimers related? Am I addicted to shopping? Is mobile phone use irradiating my brain? et cetera). I marked perhaps the biggest rite of passage of my relationship in terms of anxieties, specifically: the tipping point on my no longer worrying my boyfriend was going to leave me, and instead worrying he’d die suddenly and unexpectedly, probably in a car crash. When all else failed, and no anxiety was occurring naturally to me, well: I worried because everyone knows it’s not the stuff you worry about that gets you, it’s the stuff you don’t worry about, the stuff you didn’t see coming: which meant I had to broaden the latitude on my worrying, to decrease the chances I’d get got at all.
I didn’t worry that I worried too much.
Although I probably should have done.
Read part 2 of Polly's blog here
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