Yes, I know this will mainly be a site for drawings, but I also like to write, so I’m starting it with this piece about the anxiety that pushed me to start putting my work out there in the world after a long period of hiding and non engagement. I tend to be an anxious person with a lot of unfocused worry and a high need for approval. It’s a real winning combination. Or not. In any case, anxiety is both a curse and a blessing. It makes me so uncomfortable that I’m forced to actually take action on things that scare me.  It’s also an extremely physical experience that proves just how powerfully the mind and the body are connected. We often tend to think of the brain and the body as being separate but that’s not been my experience at all.

Anxiety. Anxiety. Anxiety. Quite simply, I have become afraid of fear itself. Of silences in which my mind has time to run wild, spinning nightmare scenarios of what if, what if, what if and you can’t, you can’t, you can’t. Of loneliness in which all the terrors of my life, real and imagined, are my only companions. Of what waits in the jittery darkness of my brain, ready to pounce, to shake the peace, the ease, the normalcy from my life. Everything is a trap. Moving forward, staying in place: either state feels terrifying and untenable. Sanctuary is never possible. Rest is a pipe dream. Pleasure a distant memory. Merely eating a meal becomes a test of will. Can I force the food into my mouth, chew it up a thousand times, push it around the dry desert of my tongue to finally swallow, choking on every mouthful as my throat closes up and screams NO NO NO with all the animal will of my body. Dreading even after the end of a gagged down meal that another is just around the corner. You have to eat. And lying in bed at night, begging for sleep to come and take me away. Breathing exercises, soothing books, pharmaceuticals. Sometimes they help and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I get to surrender to the blessed blankness and sometimes I lie helplessly beset by the night, the darkness pressing in and pressing out. Too worn out to even cry.

Though I know this state of being is fluid, will pass like stormclouds over the landscape, when I’m in anxiety’s shadow, all the grand guignol scenes feel so real despite my knowing the monsters are all stage blood and foam rubber. It’s all white knuckles and shallow breaths sometimes just to go to the corner grocery store. How foolish. How understandable. How painfully human of me.

And, yet, there’s still another part of me in the midst of this ridiculous, overblown storm of my amygdala that knows it’s all lies. Knows the way forward is the only way. Knows that all the fears are really so small and so temporary, that I could squash them like a bug if only I knew how or could summon the will. Knows, wearily, that I’ve fought this battle before, time and time again, and always won. Knows that the last time and the time before were both worse and longer. Knows that I am smart enough, tough enough, ME enough to break through, to survive and maybe even to thrive. Knows I deserve a good life, unruled by Mercury in perpetual retrograde. And so I fight my way back up and through the looking glass. Back to the me of my youth, of my salad days, of the times before I felt so small and alone and hopeless and afraid. Back to the me who has learned so much and tried so hard and had some small and ordinary triumphs here and there. Who has friends. A home. A talent to be nutured. A task to be tackled. Who has worth and dignity and who does not deserve this black dog at my heels, always watching and waiting and ready to bite. I will get back to the me who can laugh. Who can cry. Who can eat with pleasure and sleep with ease. Who can feel things other than anxiety, anxiety, anxiety.