Sometimes I feel just so goddam sensitive, it's unnerving. It's like a state of moderate hyper- awareness in which many, many aspects of living feelings, thoughts and emotions come flooding in to make me feel (temporarily) overwhelmed. It would be easy to categories it as anxiety but I don't think that is what it is. I had a period of ongoing anxiety attacks in my mid thirties (completely uninvited and, I believed, unwarranted) which I dealt with - at the insistence of my doctor at the time - by attended an Anxiety Management Program at the Prince of Wales Hospital. I was hesitant and uncomfortable about it but I went anyway. The good news is the process was phenomenally effective - and I have not had a full blown anxiety attack since. Pretty good, eh. It was a group situation - round table - with a program facilitator who used a white board and spoke, asked questions, directed us. I can't recall exactly but I believe it was two hours per week for eight weeks. One of the things that struct me first was that, as bad as my experiences were, some people had it a lot worse. This was a relief. Then, as is the Aussie way, we all were able to share some good laughs along the way. A big part of anxiety attack management is being able to recognise the early stages and rein it in before it escalates beyond your control. Once you learn this and a few techniques it is possible to never again succumb to it's powers. It was quite a breakthrough.
What I do get these days does not get to the level of heavy breathing and cold sweats. It is not an attack so much as a slow infiltration. Or a sudden realisation that I am in occupied territory. I know now, from experience, that in order to not become a victim, I need to stay cool and ride it out. It is not crippling (although it threatens to be). But it is present. There's a touch of agoraphobia, general unease and questioning, mild disassociation.
I am willing to share this stuff here because I know that it is not unique to myself. Without exception, we all go through similar tribulations. By sharing our truths we can dissipate the negative impact. Like in the group therapy - once we know we are not alone we become emboldened. There is nothing wrong with us that is not wrong with everyone else. We humans are flawed. And occasional over sensitivity is something we all experience. Even if it is in isolation, as it most always is in my case, we can find strength in the knowledge that it isn't personal and actually part of the mission agenda. It's a test we are innately designed to endure. It will pass. Staying cool really is something that can and should be cultivated. It gets easier with age (I find). You have got this far, been through so much - what's one more fucking mind fuck?!
I recently finished Bruce Springsteen's autobiography and he was openly candid about his own bouts of anxiety and depression. It his him pretty damn hard at times. I felt for him while reading it. But I also greatly admire his candour. Screw ego - he knows - it goes way beyond that shit. If we can help each other survive and overcome by sharing our own stuff - well, that's a great thing.
Like I have said before in these pages, while I definitely speak my truth and share my mind spontaneously and without censure here, one may be able to piece together some idea of who I am as a person, it would only be just that. An idea. A notion. Influence and coloured by each individuals own life experience/understanding and tailored to suit. I am not presenting pieces of a puzzle that add up to a portrait (of my internal self). I am, rather, disseminating seeds, throwing out handfuls for you to plant at will and grow your own shade and fruit bearing trees from. Once I send it out there, once you read it, it becomes yours to do with as you will.
My motivation is two-fold: one - to come to understand myself a little better and - two - to help you to understand yourself a little better by recognising aspects and traits, beliefs that we have in common and gently meditating on them.
Since I was young, early teens, I have not been that interested in history, geography, physics, chemistry (the list goes on - a mirror of my high school curriculum, ha ha). I have been interested in reading about peoples lives, their stories and I have been interested in the teachings and wisdom of philosophers and spiritual investigators/trailblazers. Digging deep into the complex meanings and infinite permutations of the human condition. Those all time favourites like - Why are we here? What does it all mean?
I know now, unanswerable, of course, but nevertheless, worth grappling with. It's not for everyone but for me it's like UFC (mixed martial arts fighting). Train and train, give it my all - and when it comes time to get in the ring - like more than a few times last year, like yesterday - with my opponent (The Metaphysical Master) I stand strong and come out swinging. My goal: last the five (or three) rounds. Not get knocked out. I know I won't ever get an outright win, per say, but not crumbling, being KO'ed is a victory in itself. Then, it's back to the gym - my contemplation, my writing, my personal/spiritual investigations, my creative endeavours - to strengthen my core, quicken my jab, work on my defence. Cause I'm a fighter. We all are. Being here demands it. There is no escape. The cage doors are locked during the bouts and you can not give up. It's not for glory. It's survival.
And the beauty, the true magnificence of the resilience we each possess, we all possess is one of the things that makes being a participant, an inhabitant on planet earth, rewarding. It would not hurt for us to acknowledge this simple wonder more often. The quiet strength and innate courage that each of us is made of. Just being is winning. We are all winners. We are all fucking champions as far as I am concerned. I bow down to each and every one of you in awe and respect. Because I know (more of less) what you go through. And it isn't easy.