‘You are the cause of this sickness. And the cure for this disease.’
- Jamie Hope.
I, like many creative minds suffer from anxiety. I have a yearning desire that wants to continuously grow and develop in an effort to push the limits of my own creativity. It’s something that I’ve always lived with, and something that I imagine will be present for the rest of my life. I constantly feel as though I am falling short; that I need to work harder, become better, and ultimately achieve. When I kick the bucket I want the world to pause, just for a fraction of a second so that people can acknowledge what I have achieved before it spins on and I am ultimately forgotten.
For the most part this anxiety can be channeled into something positive. When I’m stressed I create, and when I create I come closer to my dream of fashioning a career as an author. But there are also a lot of negatives that come with suffering from anxiety. My anxiety makes me stubborn and unbelievably selfish at times. As I continue to grow and understand myself I’m starting to realize that this anxiety causes me to suffer from emotional disengagement.
It’s a worrying affliction. When I’m faced with emotional stresses my natural reaction is to become a robot devoid of any emotion and simply pretend as though I don’t care. The problem with this is the only time one ever faces emotional stresses or turmoil is when they are engaged in conflict with a loved one. When I act like I don’t care I inevitably end up hurting those I care about the most. I’ve had conversations with parents, friends, and lovers where my emotional disengagement kicks in and they are left feeling scorned as they fail to understand how someone who prides himself on his ability to communicate can become so cold.
When my parents split up I shut down. Just like most in my situation would. But by doing so my mother thought that I blamed her for the break up; my father did the same. The reality of the situation was that neither was true. I didn’t blame either of them for what happened, and I still don’t. I’ve always believed that love is supposed to be easy, and for Mum and Dad it wasn’t. They worked incredibly hard to keep it together for us kids, but ultimately their relationship failed. Neither was to blame, but my shutting down and refusing to talk about what happened scarred the relationships that I have with my parents. I love them both and I always will. But the disengagement I showed both of them when they needed the support of their children will always be a blot on the scorecard of our relationships.
Even now in my relationships I struggle with disengagement. Partners past and present have told me that I often seem disinterested or noncommittal in my levels of participation. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s just that I have this never-ending angst that eats away at me. When I’m with my partner I’m apprehensive about the fact that I’m not writing; when I’m writing or studying I’m acutely aware that I’m neglecting her. It’s this weird damned if I do, damned if I don’t feeling that eats away at me. The only thing that ever seems to ease the pressures I place upon myself is when I’m being creative.
When I’m writing I can be free. I can be angry, peaceful, ugly, beautiful, perfect and flawed. I can be me: anxious yet arrogant. Bold yet cautious. A walking contradiction. And for a few hours at a time I can forget that I suffer from emotional disengagement and become a goddamn literary wolf or a fully functioning human being again. I can create pieces about issues that matter to me, or tales of sexual and emotional lust to show that I care. When I write I’m whole and the anxiety vanishes. When I stop that the cracks in my façade begin to surface and the fractured soul underneath becomes visible once again. Literature is quite literally the cause of my sickness, just as it is the cure for the disease.
The purpose behind this post is simple: it’s a thank you. A thank you to my family, partner and loved ones for understanding that I’m not an arsehole; I’m just not quite normal. A thank you my readers for sticking with me through moments of arrogance and emotional turmoil. Things got a little hairy for a while there but we’re growing together and I love the journey that we’ve taken. And to literature: you’ve broken me more times than I could ever begin to describe. I’ve cried in wardrobes, burned manuscripts, and set out to set the world ablaze. But I’ve also loved, learned, and undergone a metamorphosis from a bitter mind into a damn good writer.
I’ve got a lot to be thankful for in this life, and sometimes I forget to take the time to show those close to me just how much I care. If you’re reading this than you mean more to me than you could ever imagine.