Trapping the snake

This blog, it’s turning out, triggers my anxiety. A bit.

See, I have a decent-sized anxiety disorder. I do think of it in terms of size, as I find what matters is how much and where it overlaps the rest of my life. I take my meds, I do my therapy, I work on asking myself what exactly I’m doing and I remove myself from situations that trigger anxious reactions. That last one isn’t so easy.

Another way I think of it is like this: Part of my brain–part of everyone’s brain–is still a monkey. That monkey-brain is the part leftover from living in the trees being terrified of leopards or hungry eagles or fragile branches or snakes. It’s made for keeping you alive. Anxiety is good in this sense–it keeps you from doing things that endanger your well-being and keeps you on your toes.

Someone gave my monkey-brain a lot of sudafedrine and made it watch Unsolved Mysteries marathons. It panics about threats that, when separated from my sense of well-being, aren’t that threatening. For example, phone calls are not, empirically speaking, threatening. Nor are blogs.  It’s easy enough to say, “Self, this blog is a good thing. It makes you write regularly and it puts your writing out there for people to find and consider. If you want to sell books–and we have already decided you want to–you have to do that.” 

But my monkey-brain is fairly convinced there is a snake hiding in this website.

I’m willing to bet, if you polled a good sample of writers, the vast majority would admit that writing causes them some anxiety that they can’t quite shake–but they dearly wish they could. Really, as far as I’m concerned, the only way to get things done is to find a way to shut that monkey-brain up. The number of words you can put on the page is severely limited when you’re worried that if they aren’t all perfect (and they won’t all be perfect–that just doesn’t happen),  the psychological equivalent of a rotten branch with suddenly drop you on your ass and you won’t be able to get back up. In my experience, panicking about a deadline is the best way to shut the monkey up–as such, now the snake is definitely in the deadline, so worry about that. But blogs are deadlineless. This one is also topicless. The snake could really be anywhere–the when, the what, the how. The who is reading this.

The reality is of course that this metaphor breaks down. The snake, after all, is in my head.

But my monkey-brain is very persuasive on the fact that the snake might also be real and wouldn’t it be worse to assume the snake is not real and have it bite you, than to assume it’s real and have it turn out never to have been there? 

B.S.  I’m calling it out. This is my snake, this is my demon. Now everyone who reads this knows I am not perfect (in case there were any doubters) and I shall continue as I can, as I please…and hope there are no hungry eagles circling.

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