Sunday, March 22, 2020

Anxiety? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Anxiety!

Anxiety is abundant these days. One of my solutions is to write.

I've had plenty of time to read. Reading got me thinking. And thinking, for me, leads to analysis, which leads to research, which leads to needing to write. Many writers complain of writer's block. That's something I got over long ago, working as a speechwriter with turnaround times as little as a day, a few hours, or even an hour.

Instead, my "problem" is that, when I get something in my head that I want to say, I can't resist whipping out pencil and paper, or iPhone "Notes," and writing it down. Surely others need to know! I think. And once I get started, I can't stop. 

When I started isolating at home, I had plenty of time to read, think, and analyze hundreds of reports from dozens of media outlets throughout the country. I had flashes of anger--at my partner, for not washing his hands often enough; at not-my president, for putting political and special interests ahead of public health; and, more recently, at China, for its missteps and cover-ups.

My anxiety level has been high from the beginning. Every tickle in my throat or ache in my belly, a cough from Pope or a moan in his sleep, sends my blood pressure up as I imagine the worst. I have to keep reminding myself: I barely recovered from a long sinus infection in January, Pope had a serious bout of bronchitis for weeks, I have a history of digestive and breathing problems, and allergy season has begun. It's probably just one of those, my left brain keeps reassuring my right brain.

I read. I walk. I clean house. I play my guitar and sing, practicing songs from classes at Augusta music camp and at Archie Edwards, a local blues venue. They all help.
Playing outside in the park
When the anxiety ramps up and threatens to overwhelm me, I turn to yoga techniques, including meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques).
Photo from Yoga in Daily Life center in Alexandria, 2016
Then, a couple of days ago, I was reading about the shortage of face masks and got angry. I began to pursue the subject with great diligence, writing things down--and remembered that, my whole life, I've been writing out my anger and anxieties. From an early family life involving violence and fear, to abusive marriages, sexual harassment at work, and bouts of illness, I've kept journals, written essays, even submitted a few articles for publication.
Writing my blog during a sailing cruise
For me, writing distracts me from emotion and helps me re-center.

So in the coming days I will publish in this blog some of what I've been writing on my iPhone and on Facebook about the virus. If you are interested in a few brief summaries compiled from hundreds of news reports, stand by.

It might not be a relief from anxiety, but it may help shed some clarity on some of the mysterious and frightening matters hinted at in the most dire and glaring headlines.

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