Creating distance between you and your anxiety

Illustration by Rika Otsuka
By That Anxious Dude
May 19, 2020
· 5 min read

've always perceived the solutions to my anxiety problems as some sort of larger than life transformations.

Whether I was considering meditation, psychotherapy, my toxic habit of Googling “symptoms”, or simply creating a bit of structure in the chaos of my daily existence, I quickly became convinced that it would take nothing short of superhuman strength to attempt any of them.

This quick self-sabotaging operation afforded me a handy excuse to stay passive.

These days, being a regular dabbler in all of the above, it suddenly dawned on me -  actually, the opposite of what I previously thought is true.

No matter which route to mental health you choose to take, you’ll always be heading in the same direction, as all of them aim to do one thing and that’s creating distance between you and your anxiety.

Distance isn’t some magical black hole that makes anxiety disappear.

What it will do, is provide you with a valuable tool that makes managing it possible in the first place.

Let me use the exciting weather analogy here; Say there’s a storm raging outside - would you stand right in the middle of it and risk being trashed around, or would you rather observe it from the safety of your house until it passes?

Because this is exactly what therapy, meditation and all other all (self-)awareness techniques actually do - they help you build your house.

Acknowledging the fact that the solution to your struggles might be as straightforward as enforcing a bit of distance, and giving you some space to breathe, is one of the basic requirements to meet before you can start getting better.

Let’s face it - we, the hip anxiety crowd have a teeny-tiny bit of a tendency to magnify stuff. I think you know what I’m talking about: “DID I LEAVE THE STOVE ON WHEN I LEFT, MY GOD, I'M PROBABLY HOMELESS NOW”). And in the same way we magnify our troubles, we tend to exaggerate the solutions to those troubles as well.

Sure, knocking the problem off the mighty Iron Throne a notch or two is no summer picnic. It forces you to open up to some very uncomfortable truths about the relationship you’ve developed with your anxiety.

When I started poking around in that department, I was blown away by how much radioactive waste I’ve immediately stumbled upon. Most of all, I realized that behind all the suffering that hypochondria caused me, I was somehow still deeply infatuated with it.

If I was being completely honest with myself, I had to admit that I believed it made me less boring as a person.

So I glorified it until it made me feel like a True Detective character - kinda special, but really shitty inside.

This hidden conviction made it impossible for me to see my health anxiety for what it really is; a very tedious and ordinary condition that is making my life much harder than it needs to be.

The thing with ordinary problems is that they usually call for ordinary solutions, solutions that require less planning and more doing.

So, whichever route to mental fitness you’re endlessly mulling over, try to cut it with an action. Might be a small one, it doesn’t matter. Just give yourself a push. Force a step. The important thing is to start getting used to the feeling of that glass wall that separates you from your raging mind.

You can always go back to mulling later if you want (trust me you won’t).

I’m not going to lie, it never gets not tough. It always requires conscious effort to straighten the unstraightened.

I’m still struggling every day.

But considering in what a state I was just two years ago I’m fucking levitating right now.  

And up here, there’s always room for one more.


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H1 Reglar

at least until the cold rears its ugly head again, Berlin is turning itself into a series of endless open air festivals and parties.Our little hangout reflects this festive mood, at least on the outside. If you were just a random person walking by, you would have seen two mates comfortably sharing a bottle, drinking out of paper cups, chatting away and laughing. It would all look like an uplifting scene from a European indie film.

The truth however, is different. Laurie is my friend, yes, and what’s coming out of my mouth is real laughter, but the unpleasant feeling bouncing around my skull is one of deep discomfort. The truth is I’d rather be anywhere else right now. It’s not that anything bad happened between the two of us, like a pissing contest’s gone sour just moments ago… I’ve known Laurie for almost 5 years and during that time we’ve never even had as much as a disagreement.

H2 Capital

at least until the cold rears its ugly head again, Berlin is turning itself into a series of endless open air festivals and parties.

Our little hangout reflects this festive mood, at least on the outside.


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