Recession fears. Iranian nukes. Bed bugs. The puddle of transmission fluid in your driveway. The 99%. Sex offenders in your zip code. Your LDL and HDL – which one is bad again?? Home foreclosures. Drug cartels. Mercury in your fish and lead in your kid’s toys. The national debt. Another season of The Kardashians. Global warming and melting glaciers. Your depleted 401(k). Texting drivers. Did you lock the front door? That sharp pain in your chest. Toxic BPA in your plastic water bottles. Immigration. Lindsay Lohan. Road rage …
Anxiety is a nasty little byproduct of worry. It can paralyze you – or help you move faster. It is the “dizziness of reason” (Soren Kierkegaard), and “the handmaiden of creativity” (TS Eliot). We live in a world riddled with worrisome stimuli. You have to look no further than the ticker running along the bottom of the CNN News channel to generate some worry and anxiety. But, don’t.
State of Anxiety is here to clear the confusion: We are supposed to have anxiety – that’s how the bills get paid. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It motivates us to get stuff done. It is also part of our grand design, and an evolutionary trait that has kept us alive. Anxiety is not the enemy – rather a guide to what we need to tackle first on life’s “To Do” list. In moderate doses, anxiety has served us well since the dawn of time. Consider how a healthy dose of anxiety served the caveman: “Oooooh – Look! A saber-toothed tiger! Seem dangerous. Me not pet.” Anxiety is what kept the perceptive ones from a good impaling and missing genetalia.
Everyone suffers from worry and anxiety at one time or another. It’s how long it lasts that can become problematic. The duration is what separates the normal from the neurotic. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Yes, “normal.” It helps us deal with a tense situation in the office – like when someone eats your sandwich from the break room
fridge; or react to a saber-toothed tiger that wanders into your cave; or keep focused during a job interview (at a company where people don’t steal sandwiches). In general, anxiety helps us cope with the curves and swerves of life. But, when our worry and anxiety become an irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disorder, and leads to the creation of things like this website and medicinal marijuana cards. State of Anxiety is both a reprieve and a resource. It exposes the dirty little secret we all feel, but few acknowledge: That we’re all wound a bit tighter these days as life ratchets up the pressure. Anxiety is the most common cause of disability in the U.S. workplace (“Consensus statement on generalized anxiety disorder from the International Consensus Group on Depression and Anxiety” – The Journal of clinical psychiatry). It’s true … and, why am I now craving a hoagie? Just about everyone wants a drink by noon at least one day per week. State of Anxiety provides relief and the, “Hey, I’m not so crazy after all” type of self-reflection sorely needed by the tens of millions suffering from various forms of anxiety – one self deprecating laugh at a time.
Interestingly, according to the people at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) who ensure our brains are fit and look sexy in CT scans, anxiety disorders are the most common mental impairment in the U.S. with approximately 40 million American adults having an anxiety disorder. In other words, as anxiety sufferers and chronic worriers, we are #1 and reign supreme over our lesser-known “mentally impaired” friends. I’ve always said, “If you’re going to suffer an affliction, go with the most popular kids.” I have never actually said that to anyone. But, the numbers don’t lie – nearly all of us suffer from a bout of anxiety at one time or another. The symptoms of these disorders can differ, but they all center on recurring, irrational, extreme and overwhelming fear that lasts six months or more. And, there is a particularly troubling new face to anxiety: The U.S. Soldier. A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan may be as high as 35%. With two million troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, we can expect that an astounding 700,000 veterans will suffer from PTSD. And, how does our top-notch government address this trend? With awesome public service announcements like this. See? You’re already better, and didn’t even need an appointment.
There are five major types of anxiety disorders, as defined by the NIMH (I counted and they’re all here):
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Phobia (or, Social Anxiety Disorder)
What happens to us is not nearly as important as how we respond. Our sole responsibility is to do the best we can with what we have, where we are. So, develop a comic eye for the absurdities of life – for there is no shortage of them. Laughter is a source of growth. It keeps you thinking positively. It reduces the stress of problems. It tells you that any effort at progress is worthwhile. And, it makes others wish they were in on the joke.
State of Anxiety utilizes humor as an entirely unique and unconventional approach to the personal chaos of worry and anxiety. State of Anxiety is the first, and maybe the only, website designed to placate worry and anxiety as it chronicles the comical manifestations of stress. Because, truly, “Laughter is the best medicine”…. or, “Misery loves company?” Who knows. But, clinical studies repeatedly show that laughter heals. According to Discovery News, “The protection apparently comes from endorphins, a complex chemical that helps to transmit messages between neurons but also dulls signals of physical pain and psychological stress.” In a group setting, laughter promotes social cooperation and collective identity. And, it does all this without booze or pot, so you can do it at work or while operating heavy machinery – like a lathe. I don’t really know what a lathe is. But, I’d like to say I could operate one.
State of Anxiety is a community of like-minded, insightful visitors who navigate each stressful day with engineered precision while sometimes wondering, “Is this shortness of breath and acute chest pain normal?” State of Anxiety isalso a checks-and-balances to help determine if what you’re feeling is valid or possibly detrimental on this crowded planet of over 7 billion. It is a distractor to provide levity and “mental floss.” That’s right – it rubs the psyche clean, leaving you mentally rejuvenated to conquer another feat. In addition to providing community and levity, State of Anxiety is the perfect accoutrement (I speak French) and social utility to check-in with peers experiencing similar pressures, while taking something positive away. Sometimes, a bit of perspective is all that is needed. Simply put, State of Anxiety has your back.
Though, there is some upside to anxiety in moderate doses, in excess it is accompanied with drawbacks as illustrated within the fun and riveting chart below:
|ANXIETY PROS||ANXIETY CONS|
|Ability to elude saber-toothed tigers, rapists, pedophiles, and flee solicitors, politicians, and religious fundamentalists. A cold dose of fear lends an edge to dealing with immediate threats.||Insomnia and staring at the ceiling or watching late-night episodes of “Cheaters.”|
|Impetus to get shit done: pay the electric bill; feed the dog; inflate dangerously low tires; and buy toilet paper.||Paralysis-by-analysis and heart palpitations that are not of the joyful caffeine-induced variety.|
|Leads to healthy things such as running, yoga, meditation, and legal massage.||Leads to unhealthy things like drugs, alcohol, and addictions to porn, anime, or impulse shopping.|
|Short-term enhancement of mental and motor function and increased adrenaline production to contend with immediate threat(s) to wellbeing, with a greater likelihood to kick some ass.||Decreased ability to concentrate, nervousness, and poor judgment that interfere with the ability to perform complex thinking – like the kind needed to order from a menu.|
|Acute stress is immune-enhancing so you can ward-off whooping cough and in-laws.||Chronic stress is immunosuppressive, rendering you useless all winter.|
|Increased adrenaline blocks feelings of pain – like when “The Hulk” tore through brick walls and flipped-over cars.||There are considerable aches and pains to be felt later – not excluding the pain of a testicular strain.|
|Loss of appetite from fight-or-flight response prevents the need for meals, bowel movements, and untimely restroom visits.||Change of appetite and gastrointestinal complications (i.e., constipation) due to the body’s attention being diverted to fight-or-flight responses.|
|Feeling energized.||Exhaustion – the downside of feeling energized and – if you’re really screwed – depression.|
Okay – let’s review. Concern or caution is inevitable and, actually, good for you. But, panic, prolonged worry and anxiety are clearly not. So many of us let negativity sap our energy and dictate our agenda. So, keep your feelings of concern and caution – for they are normal. But, ditch those feelings of over concern, “gloom and doom”, panic, and dread. How?According to Albert Ellis, “First, acknowledge that the two feelings are quite different and don’t rationalize that anxiety is a healthy condition.” Add to this the secret sauce: That there is humor in everything. Humor is – plain and simple – our “secret to sanity.” Yum …