Life With an Anxiety Disorder

It was 1987. I was five years old, playing out in front of my house. I was with my friend Darryl, and we were using sticks to try and dig out the edges of a sewer grate because we thought that would be a great way to meet the ninja turtles. The sewer grate was in the middle of the parking lot that was part of our housing complex. On the grass in front of my house, my ThunderCats castle sat, a hose going through the front window. I like the idea of a castle with a waterfall.

Darryl got up quickly, seeing a danger that I couldn’t. I turned and began to stand. At that moment, a car shoved my body to the ground. I woke up about 50 feet away, under the car, having been dislodged by a speedbump. I stood up and ran home, passing out on the grass in front of the house.

I remember sitting in the car on the way to the hospital. I was in the car that hit me. I looked down at my leg, seeing meat and bone. I was interested in it, and tried to touch it. My mom stopped me, and told me I was in shock and that’s why it didn’t hurt. She asked me what I was doing when I got hit. When I told her that I was looking for the ninja turtles, she started asking me questions about them. She was keeping my brain going so I wouldn’t pass out.

At the hospital, things were much different. They didn’t want to anesthetize me because I was in shock, so they stitched my leg immediately and without anesthetic. It was a very cold stinging feeling.

In the years that followed, I remember things like walking back to the school from the schoolyard and feeling like something was pulling me backward. My friend Michael asked me why I’m walking as slow as an ant. I had no idea what it was. At such a young age, it might well have been a ghost holding on to me, preventing me from walking.

I was suddenly terrified to get on buses. The feeling was much stronger then, almost incapacitating. A complete, enveloping terror. My mother couldn’t make heads or tails of it, and eventually took me to a psychiatrist. I was soon diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder. The likelihood is that it came from head trauma from being hit by the car.

My ability to socialize was stunted. School was difficult. I had no idea what my triggers were, I had no idea that triggers even existed. I would find myself in blinding terror in the most innocuous of situations. Even as a youngster, I had the presence of mind to explain it to the person in front of me though. That didn’t stop me from getting bullied. The bullying, in fact, became so severe that my mother moved me to a different school. In retrospect, it was easily a very burdensome process for my mother.

Junior high came, and though I made friends, my disorder still relegated me to the realms of obscurity. This lasted through high school. Girls made it very clear to me that they liked me, but I could do nothing about it except seem unfriendly.

As I grow into an adult, I felt afraid to do anything but take the path of least resistance. Getting and keeping a job was difficult. No one understood what my problem was, despite knowing I had this disorder. My doctor, on multiple occasions, even recommended that I go on disability. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be limited.

I met my wife online. I had a fairly popular blog in the early 2000’s. Does anyone remember Mightyskunk from open diary? She was one of my readers, and we began talking on MSN, and eventually on the phone. She took a plane ride up to Toronto to meet me. My anxiety attacks lessened around her. She understood me, and even learned to soothe my attacks.

Skipping far ahead, I ended up moving to the United States. She and I got married, and I started holding down good jobs. My confidence grew. I also began looking at my anxiety attacks analytically. I started studying them. Instead of avoiding my triggers, I tried to encounter as many as possible. Eventually I got a drivers license, despite all reason. Driving is one long anxiety trigger.

After years forcing myself into my triggers head-on, my strength against my anxiety disorder has grown. Though regular daily life is still a constant source of terror, I’ve become good at masking my symptoms and sublimating the terror within me. There are still things that I won’t do. I love roller coasters, and go on them any chance I get. The Tower of terror at Disneyland, however, is a different animal. The worst anxiety attack I have ever had was on that ride. Just thinking about it scares me, even though I know it’s deeply irrational. I actually find the humor in the situation.

I still need to pause and compose myself when a person is walking toward me. I still have difficulty making eye contact during handshakes, though that’s mainly due to habit at this point.

In the 30 years that I have spent dealing with a severe anxiety disorder, I have found that confronting it head on is by far the best remedy. Avoiding triggers and succumbing to fear only makes it stronger.

In related news, has anyone out there listened to the Black Eyed Peas? Even if they’re not your kind of band, they cover some interesting subject matter, including anxiety disorders. They actually have a song where they discuss an anxiety disorder, and how truly terrifying it is.

 

I don’t fear none of my enemies

And I don’t fear bullets from Uzi’s

I’ve been dealing with something that’s worse than these

That’ll make you fall to your knees and thats

The anxiety

The sane and the insane rivalry

Paranoia’s brought me to my knees

Lord please please please

Take away my anxiety

What is American culture?

There has been talk over the past few years about the idea that America does not have any culture of its own. This argument is often used when it comes to the idea that American culture is better than any other culture on the planet.

The idea is always brought up that America is a melting pot of cultures, and that’s what makes it so great; which is also what makes it have no culture of its own. While it is true that America is a melting pot of cultures, it is completely untrue that this is a factor that ensures that America will have no culture of its own.

The American Bill of Rights is neither the smallest nor the largest bill of rights to exist on the planet. The Bill of Rights is missing things that many people believe makes it inferior to the bill of rights of other countries, but the American Bill of Rights has one thing that no other country has: the right to free speech.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Very few understand just how important and powerful the right to free speech is, and why, on its own, it makes America so much better than any other culture on the planet.

A person’s ability to even say that America has no culture is predicated on the right to free speech, unique to this country. In China, certain TV shows, like Doctor Who, are not allowed, because they offer the possibility of alternate timelines. The Chinese government does not want it to people to think that there could be an alternate timeline, In which possibly communism does not exist, or in which there are many small governments for their country instead of one large one held by one person. In Canada, a country touted by many Socialists, anarchists, and communists, as the best country in the world, does not even have the right to free speech. In fact, you can be fined or jailed for what you say in Canada.

It could be said that the laws against certain speech in Canada are simply to protect specific citizens. Hate speech laws, while good in a very simple sense, are not so when seen from a broader perspective. The definition of hate speech and the definition of racism are nebulous terms that don’t have a definite value. Certain words can flow in and out of a state of verboten on a whim. With the goal posts constantly changing, and the laws in a constant state of flux, there is no freedom. A person knows that even the most innocuous thing today can land them in jail tomorrow. This one thing is a hallmark of countries that lack human rights.

The mere fact that thousands of Americans every day criticize the president, and the fact that celebrities can put on miniature shows in which they kill the president, knowing full well that they will not mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night is a uniquely American thing.

It is almost cliche at this point to reference Tank Man as a sign of individual freedoms in other countries. This is a man that stood in front of a line of tanks, stopping them in their tracks, the ultimate sign of defiance in the face of authority. What people don’t mention, is that Tank Man has been neither seen nor heard from him since that incident. It is unlikely that he managed to leave the general area in which he stood up to the tanks so famously.

Okay, but free speech is just one thing!

Absolutely true. It is just one thing. A very big one thing, but still just one thing. Just like being alive is just one thing. It’s interesting, in fact, how different things would likely be if this one thing didn’t exist and wasn’t enforced.

So what is another thing?

Capitalism. The one system guaranteed to pull a nation and an individual out of poverty. Capitalism, when introduced to a former socialist or communist country, has proven to lift both of the country and the individual out of poverty. Formerly capitalist countries like Venezuela that adopt socialism, almost immediately fall into poverty. Capitalism ensures that an individual, no matter his station at birth, has the ability to attain any station he wishes in life.

Is there anything else?

Plenty of things. Take, for instance, The Second Amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

While some other countries do give rights to fire arms to their citizens, The Second Amendment is uniquely American. No other country has it stated so specifically that they want their populace armed well enough to fight off a potentially tyrannical government. This doesn’t mean the government of some other country, either. The Second Amendment is talking specifically about the American government becoming tyrannical, and the need for the American citizenry to be able to fight back and wrest control away from the tyrant.

It is often argued that the Second Amendment was from a time when automatic weapons or high capacity weapons didn’t exist. This is patently untrue.

No other country on the planet has a failsafe for its citizens like America has.

In short, your ability to criticize and fight your own government, as well as criticize the government entities, such as by saying “fuck the police”, without immediately being arrested and disappearing forever, is a big deal, and uniquely American. The fact that the founding fathers wanted you armed as well as possible so that the government can not encroach upon your freedoms is uniquely American.

Citizens in other countries displaying values akin to those espoused in American culture are often jailed immediately, if not outright killed, for being “too westernized”.

Maybe we should be inclined to thank our founding fathers for giving us such uniquely American rights.

Yet More Dangers in Obfuscation

With the meanings of words changing, and some words being given more power while others are given less, it comes as no surprise that a popular magazine would release an article that appears to attempt to normalize incest. 

This article go so far as to change the meaning of incest, however, softening it into genetic sexual attraction. This has been going on for decades, and has even been lampooned in a popular George Carlin rant. Adding softer language to something does not change what it is. Instead, it serves as a line of division with which someone can call themselves proper and another person improper. 

Beyond that, it blurs the lines yet again of hate speech. When will come, the first instance in which someone calls it incest, and another person gets offended because they were merely engaging in genetic sexual attraction?

The term “slippery slope” gets thrown around a lot, but in this case it is clear that we are on one.

Don’t fall.

Be Your Own Advocate

In today’s increasingly selfish and desolate society, it is important to know that there is one person who will always stand up for you:

You.

The Current Meta

Advocacy and allyship groups continue to become more fractured, not being satisfied with their problem being part of a whole host of problems being solved. Instead, their very specific and often undefinable problem must be first in line. The LGBT movement alone has become a warzone in which transgender people now call gay people oppressive. Straight black men are considered the white people of black people. There are even transgender groups that call other transgender people transphobic. It’s mind boggling just how ready people are to be at the throats of people they once allied with or held close.

Even unions, the time-honored vanguard against morally corrupt corporations and small-time bosses who would feed on their workers have become a veritable mafia; using thuggish intimidation tactics and harassment to ensure that equity, not equality, is enforced. Anyone who doesn’t want to be part of the club is going to have a very hard time at their job. The Union wants its dues.

Even party politics has become a mine field. With no side currently being decent, the people who are decent have no home.

Who Can You Turn To?

You’ve made it this far, haven’t you? Despite all of the things that have happened in your life, including the things you were sure you’d never make it out of alive, here you are. Maybe you ought to listen to yourself.

Even if family, friends, and other people wish you success in your endeavors, it is ultimately up to you to push yourself to the finish line. No one can do it for you. The good part of that is, once you’re determined, no one can stop you, either.

 

Why So Negative?

Image somewhat related.

It’s strange in this modern day that people take such pride in the negative things about humanity. There is that quote that people often attribute to Marilyn Monroe that goes “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”. I understand, as do many people, the intention behind it. It’s trying to make it clear that people, as a whole, are flawed. The thing is, it’s unlikely that there has ever been a time when people didn’t know that. Everybody knows that every person that they encounter has their own set of problems, difficulties, and things that make them less than perfectly appealing to be around.

“I’m a bitch and I know it”

The problem that has become apparent,however, is that far too many people use that quote and others as an excuse to be lazy about their interactions with people, or to be less pleasant. Most people that are encountered on a daily basis are decent people. They’re willing to have a conversation with a complete stranger, and don’t at all put up a front that suggests that they might have misanthropic tendencies. There are, however, a very few people however, who believe it is their duty to show the world and everyone in it just how crazy or angry they are. They hold it close to their heart as part of their identity. They go so far as to tattoo it on their body. They take any opportunity they can to tell you how “Loco” they are. Facebook would suggest that these people are the majority. Reality makes it clear that this is simply not the case.

I Miss Mayberry

It used to be that people put on their best face when they left the house. No matter what was going on in their home, they wanted everyone to believe that everything was going perfectly. The term “fake it till you make it” seems to apply pretty well here. The glut of TV shows and other media that suggest that every family is a dysfunctional band of misanthropes that has become popular in the past decade or so┬áis disheartening. The Cosby Show was a wholesome program that did not center on race, people’s various mental problems, or disgusting things that people do. Instead it focused on creating good habits and following good patterns. There was even an episode in which Cliff taught Rudy how to mop the floor. Real, actual parenting happened right on the screen in front of all of America.

Full House was another of these shows. Bad things would happen, and instead of succumbing to the difficulties found, the characters would find ways to overcome. Oddly enough, the show featured a family that was far from normal as well, yet they were not portrayed as dysfunctional.

With the advent of Netflix, the show Fuller House has shown that this sort of wholesome programming is not only still acceptable, but popular.

Why, then, do we focus on the negative so readily?

A popular argument that has been bandied about for years is that we crave things that make us feel better about our own selves without having to actually do anything. This is why people still have losers from high school as friends on Facebook, even though they wouldn’t be caught dead associating with them in real life. It’s also why reality TV is such a big deal: we love to watch awful people be awful to each other so that by comparison our somewhat dysfunctional normalcy looks like an example.

That’s great for most people, but what about the ones who actually do go around being awful in real life?

Short answer: some people are just naturally assholes.

The long answer is a little more entangled. Due to Asperger’s, high functioning autism, or simply having had a bad upbringing with useless parents, some people just don’t know how to function normally within society. The problem comes when an Internet and a media full of people like that try to make it look normal, and suggest that it’s actually normal people who are abnormal.

Suddenly, treating people like human beings instead of treating them like statistics is frowned upon. This point will be expanded upon in a future article.

So, what’s the takeaway? I’ve got shit to do.

In short, normalcy is being attacked, as is decency, because those who are incapable or simply too lazy to do it are trying to make their version of normal into everybody’s. It’s just like the Healthy At Every Size movement. They simply can’t or won’t take the effort, and so try to normalize it while stigmatizing anything else.

Oddly enough, they take a lot of effort in doing so.

 

My Road. Or, Escape from Ism’s

I am a 35-year-old man. I have a wife, four kids, and a house. I have worked plenty of different jobs, and have done well at all of them. I have pride in myself, and a desire to bring that feeling to others.

A mere 15 years ago, I was a 20-year-old liberal. I held women on a pedestal, I believed Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem were heroes of modern humanity. I believed feminism was all earth needed to make it good. I believed in socialism. All of the liberal tropes, I carried proudly in my heart.

When I was shown alternative viewpoints, I would shy away from them, assured that I was right and that I didn’t need to read them or hear them. They were wrong, after all. A huge rift between my brother and I likely stemmed from that, as I would demonize him for even the slightest infraction when it came to the fairer sex, let alone an expectation that I would, maybe, act like a man!

I was a socially awkward loser. I lived at home with mom. I played video games or had “deep” discussions with my friends. I pined after women, rather than have the balls to go talk to them. I was merely a man, and they were goddesses, after all. That, or they were whores. There is no middle ground for that kind of guy, right?

I hated sports, because I hated competition. I hated the idea that there had to be a winner and a loser. You know who else hates those ideas? Losers. And I was one. Of course I didn’t want a reminder when I could just dominate a video game.

I thought individuality was paramount. I didn’t want to look like everyone else, and I used to have a ridiculous hairstyle. Maybe one day I’ll post a picture of it. If I’d had the money, I would likely have ended up with some sort of piercings or tattoos. Luckily I was too much of a loser to get a job.

I hated Republicans, and thought that they were uneducated religious zealots. I thought guns were terrifying, and ought to be erased from the landscape altogether. I believe that jobs were not simply a means to an end, that instead they were the trap you got caught in. I knew that’s how people got money, but I also knew that no matter how much my mom worked, nothing ever got better. I thought it was due to The System.

I was content, languishing in generational poverty. I was 20 and didn’t have a job yet. I had dropped out of school, because I thought my ideas were more valuable than those of the “System”. I had no money, no prospects, and no plan.

The place were I grew up was a place where people were not simply poor in their wallet. They were poor inside of their own heads. That kind of poor is different. No amount of money can fix it. Have you seen those people who win $100 million in the lottery, and it’s gone within a year? They have no investments, and they’re broke, despite having five Lamborghinis. Those, of course, eventually get taken away.

That’s what generational poverty does to a person. It makes them unable to function with money. The problem comes when people see their poor roots as a source of pride, something to cling to, rather than as something to escape from. They cling to their old ways, fearing that they will lose themselves in pursuit of a better life.

I escaped. I got my GED, and developed a healthy work ethic. I grew into the person I needed to be. I didn’t lose anything. What I gained is my true identity, and a new legacy for future generations of my family.

Aside from that, I crave opposing viewpoints. Knowing what the other side thinks allows you a bird’s-eye view of an issue. Lately, I find that most people’s views stem from selfishness. I know that view very well, as it was once mine.

It’s always going to be a hard road. Why not take the one that will bring you somewhere?

Open yourself up to opposing views, uncomfortable situations, the possibility of mockery and failure. Succeeding at laying down is not success at all.

 

Silencing Your Opponent.

It is important, whether in the world of politics or one’s everyday life, to be able to debate, and do it cogently and elegantly. You must know your opponent’s side as well as your own, and be able to see why they can see validity in their argument, even if you completely disagree. It is important to be educated on both sides of the issue at hand, and be willing to play devil’s advocate to yourself.

It’s important to simply do it at all.

This is a sticking point for most college-age special interest protesters. From blowing air horns at Milo Yiannopoulos speaking engagements, to creating white noise to drown out any rational discussion, to blowing air horns at a Toronto men’s rights talk, special interest groups make it clear that one interest they don’t have is rational discussion. It’s surprising that Ben Shapiro’s talk at Berkeley went off without a hitch, with police actually doing their job and keeping Antifa away. In other news, Berkeley professors are now on strike to protest Free Speech Week at Berkeley.

It’s alarming that people who are supposedly educated, and supposedly educating tomorrow’s leaders, are so invested in the new art of not debating.

I’ll give you a pro tip, free of charge: If you cannot argue your point, whether or not you convince your opponent of your position, without resorting to interrupting noise and a refusal to continue or to let your opponent speak; then your opinion has no value.

Silencing opinions you don’t agree with does not help you grow or learn, and the more quickly people can figure that out, the quicker we can get back to growing as a nation. I encourage everyone who reads my blog to argue with me, and to please seek out the opposite of your own opinions.

If you don’t know everything, you don’t know anything.

My first quote! Tell your friends!