anxiety is a living hell, all in your head, a gift, affecting my work
anxiety is back, bullshit, bad, bad for your health
anxiety is coming back, controlling my life, crippling me, considered disordered
anxiety is destroying my life, destroying my relationship, destroying me
anxiety is exhausting, eating me alive, easy to treat? excitement
anxiety is freedom, fake, fear, fear of the future
anxiety is getting worse, getting out of control, getting the best of me, good
anxiety is holding me back, harmless, horrible, hereditary
anxiety is it a mental illness? is it real? is it hereditary? is it genetic?
anxiety is just a feeling, just a state of mind, just fear? just a bad habit?
anxiety is killing me, keeping me awake at night, keeping me from working, keeping me from school
anxiety is love’s greatest killer, like a rocking chair, living in the future
anxiety is making me ill, making me feel sick, making me suicidal, making me depressed
anxiety is not real, normal, not a sign of weakness, not a mental illness
anxiety is on the rise, OK, often treated with___, out of control
anxiety is pointless, paralyzing me, painful, paralyzing
anxiety is quotes, freedom quote, quiz,questionnaire
anxiety is ruining my life, ruining my life yahoo, ruining my relationship, ruining my health
anxiety is stopping me sleeping, scaring me, stopping me from working, stupid
anxiety is taking over my life, the dizziness of freedom, the handmaiden of creativity, the only real emotion
anxiety is unbearable, uncontrollable, untreatable, unhealthy
anxiety is a vicious cycle, vs depression, vitamins, vomiting
anxiety is worse in the morning, wrecking my life, worse than depression
anxiety is xanax
anxiety is your friend, in your head, yoga, yawning
anxiety is zoloft
A good friend got us an interesting and appreciated Christmas present, ‘A Field Guide to Melancholy‘ by Jacky Bowring which I have been reflecting on and reading the past few days.
At one point on New Years Day I found myself alone drinking tea and reading this book, looking at a big lonely Christmas tree in a hotel lobby thinking that everything fitted together very nicely. It looked sad, purposeless, days numbered yet also beautiful in the first gloomy day of 2014.
At another point in Sligo I found myself trying to draw the hotel and getting really down that it just didn’t look right, that the lines where wrong and my colouring pencils didn’t match the colours, that I can’t capture things properly when drawing while simultaneously enjoying the whole process.
And yesterday in Cookstown I was getting sad about how the once thriving Saturday market in my home town has all but disappeared now thanks to M&S, LIDL, Asda, Tesco,Argos, Homebase etc while also taking delight in the nostalgia of what it used to be like (or what I imagined it used to be like).
In fact the more I’ve thought about it the past few days, the more I realised that I’m maybe just a sad guy at heart and maybe that is OK. Not all the time, but maybe as a sort of default setting that is part of who I am. And perhaps 2014 is the year to accept that and even see the value in it instead of wondering ‘What is wrong with me?’ Maybe it’s just time to value the paradox of it all.
Although I found the book to be a bit dense sometimes I am grateful that someone has written a book casting sadness and melancholy as something that can be good, positive and even beautiful as it makes me feel like less of a freak.
So much of modern society seems to be about pursuing happiness or eradicating sadness which makes me feel out of place. It’s not that I don’t want to be happy more that I’m not so sure if I want to get rid of the dark, sad bits in me sometimes and that makes me wonder if I’m OK in the head as who wants sad, dark bits in them?.
There is one bit of the book that I keep thinking about:-
‘[However], psychiatric concerns cast the Field Guide’s advocacy of melancholy as a rich dimension of human existence into tricky territory, with global worries over the increase in mental illness – of an escalation of melancholy as madness. Writers such as Peter D Kramer are emphatic that depression as a medical illness should be eradicated, just as diseases like smallpox have been’
It’s something that I think about. Would I change my natural inclination towards melancholia if I could?
I don’t think I would.
One of the things that brings me joy in life is experimenting, creating and I although it also drives me crazy lots of the time I often feel at my most creative when I am down in the dumps, maybe even in some place beyond ‘down in the dumps’. As the book suggests perhaps that is the trade off.
It’s the paradox that although something might make me sad I can also feel extreme joy towards it.
I might feel alive and like I’m flourishing with creativity or appreciate the beauty in some sad work of art.
As the book suggest the lines seem blurry with many of these definitions, and I can only speak from my experience but I am not sure I would want the sad bits in me to be eradicated like smallpox as I am not sure how parts of me I enjoy and help me to love my neighbour wouldn’t also be eradicated in the process. Those bits seem linked.
There is a quote from Victor Hugo at the start of the book. Some part of me likes the idea of sombre joy.
‘Melancholy is a twilight state; suffering melts into it and becomes a sombre joy. Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad.
Well I’ve just finished Lord of the Rings and I feel sad.
Not sad because I’ve reached the end of the book (which I was ready to end), sad because of the scars Frodo carries around with him.
‘I have been too deeply hurt, Sam.I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.’
Then there is Sam in silence watching his friend sail away after all they’ve been together (carrying him up Mt Doom!) before returning home to Shire a few lines later to carry on with life and his new family. And the book ends
I am not sure why I feel sad knowing that the Ring has been destroyed and Sauron defeated.
If I’m honest I wanted Tolkien to end the story after the ring had been destroyed and a big party held in Minas Tirith. I wanted the ‘happily ever after’ ending and I don’t think Tolkien supplied it.
On the whole I enjoyed re-reading Lord of the Rings but there is something about the storyline that makes me feel a little empty or unsatisfied, a feeling which I don’t get from a book I’ve really enjoyed. Even though Sauron is overthrown there is still a sense that sadness and wounds haven’t been healed, friends have had to say goodbye and that makes me a little depressed at the end despite all the good stuff that happened before. I just wanted everything to be alright at the end.
They’ve spruced up the bookshop on North St. and part of me feels a little sad. I have been a frequent visitor for the past 4 years and enjoyed the challenge of finding books in the chaos of it all.
Not that it was chaos to me mind you, but chaos to other customers who liked their bookshop neatly kept and organised, who wanted to pop in without a rummage and pop out again. Now they have been tidying it up a bit and things are becoming a little more organised. For me it is a good time to be saying farewell as I will miss things the way they used to be if I keep on shopping there. Not that it’s changed that much, just in the idealistic bookshop of my imagination. It was easily my favourite bookshop in Northern Ireland especially in the days when the older guy behind the counter (Jim?) would add up the total a knock a couple of quid of if you had bought a few books. There have always been good used books there as well or something of interest, provided you where/are prepared to have a look.
While I’m on bookshops an honorable mention should go out to the War on Want bookshop on Botanic Avenue for being (in my opinion) the friendliest littlest bookshop around Belfast. There is usually a little box of 50p Penguin books on the floor or bargains to be had on the table, so I have enjoyed popping in there most weeks. They usually have classical music on as well, which has the effect of calming me down a little.
I think I could have grown to like the Stacks bookshop in Dundonald as well, but it was a little out of the way over there in east Belfast so I didn’t get to explore it that much.
It feels bit petty to complain about a charity shop, but the Oxfam bookshop on Botanic Avenue could do a bit better on the customer service front in my opinion. Say hello to me, have a bit of crack, smile. There is a interesting selection of books but they never seem that happy to see you or appreciative of the custom. I find it annoying when they stick paper price stickers on paperback books, then peel them off, with some of the back of your book.
Oxfam seems to be a little too powerful for my liking, perhaps like the Starbucks of charity shops? Everything is a little too slick for my liking. I’m not saying that the stuff they do isn’t great, but a little too organized nationally or something for the ramshackle image I have of an ideal used bookshop.
On the other hand, the guy who is usually behind the counter in the Oxfam bookshop on Rosemary St is cheery and helpful
Which brings me on to my least favourite bookshop, the one in Bangor. In fairness it is probably the neatest and tidiest local bookshop and there is good stuff in it. And I certainly don’t want to be negative about bookshops as many of them are struggling in these days when we can pick up books for £2.81 on Amazon. But I have found it a little cold and unfriendly anytime I’ve been in. At one time they had a clearance shop when you could pick up 5 books for £4 or something, which was great. But when I took it up to the counter the guy nonchalantly scored the prices out on my book with a blue biro which wasn’t great and put that particular bookshop in my bad books. I find some of the books a little bit expensive, but that may have something to do with being broke. I am used to paying about £2-3 for a decent Penguin paperback, but in this shop it might be £5. I think that £5 is a pretty fair price for a good book that you can keep and looks beautiful. So I’m reluctant to say that I think my least favourite bookshop was overpriced. I think that the other bookshops had their Penguin/Pelican books underpriced. But I’m glad they did or else I wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy any while I lived in Belfast.
The last few days haven’t been great in my head with the sound of silence and worry wafting through the corridors. I went to bed a few hours ago armed with episodes of Alistair Cooke’s Letters from America downloaded from the BBC website to block out the sound a bit, to hopefully fall asleep and wake up a bit chirpier on a Monday morning, but it clearly didn’t work as here I am writing this. Why am I writing this? Answer, see Graham Greene later on.
It is fascinating listening to these radio shows 40, 50, 60 yrs later and remembering that Alistair Cooke was broadcasting them during the Watergate scandal, or that his eye witness account of the Bobby Kennedy assassination had actually taken place not long before. In a way they are like historical blog posts except maybe more immediate than a blog because a voice is maybe more personal that font. Or maybe I’m just talking through my ass at this late hour.
Blogging can seem a bit of an embarrassment sometimes, so much self regard and thinking that the world actually wants to hear your thoughts!
All this drawing attention to yourself and your problems or thoughts!
Who are you to think that the world wants to hear your problems or thoughts?
I sort of sway between agreeing with those sentiments and disagreeing with those sentiments. Perhaps it really just comes down to personality and even the way that we’ve been created?
I don’t know how anyone can dig around in a mouth and take out a tooth, or how someone else has the ability to think on their feet in a classroom, or to keep law and order on our streets but I’m glad there are people who aren’t like me out there and can do that stuff.
I don’t know how their brain works like that but I admire it and wish I was a bit more like that.
On the other hand perhaps there is a place for someone writing something like this no matter how self absorbed it is or nor matter if it is adding more babble to a world of babble? I’m not saying that I’m a writer, as in a skilled writer, but I’m writing this while people out there would have no desire to write anything. So maybe that makes me a writer.
Perhaps private thoughts aren’t made to be publicized to a world wide audience but then if that’s the case we may forget about a pile of the Psalms. All those personal Psalms of David. Or those Paul’s letter to Timothy.
Maybe it’s more a case of being asked by someone else to give your personal thoughts on a given subject such as the BBC asking Alistair Cooke to write a letter from America each week. Except that I think he approached the BBC.
Perhaps people who blog are naturally self absorbed?
Maybe they have an ego problem and want the world to pay attention to their point of view and arrogantly think that people need to hear that point of view?
I don’t know. Well, actually I do know. We’re all self absorbed whether you’re pottering about minding your own business or letting it all hang out on the www.
For me personally it feels more like what Graham Greene has written at the start of ‘A Sort of Life’. It’s a desire to try and bring some type of order to a chaos of experience. And yes, probably self-absorption.
‘..in the course of sixty-six years I have spent almost as much time with imaginary characters as with real men and women. Indeed, though I have been fortunate in the number of my friends, I can remember no anecdotes of the famous or the notorious – the only stories which I faintly remember are the stories I have written.
And the motive for recording these scraps of the past? It is much the same motive that has made me a novelist: a desire to reduce a chaos of experience to some sort of order, and hungry curiosity.‘
I was staying at my sister-in-laws over the Christmas holidays and noticed some ‘light’ bedtime reading by the bed in the spare room, ‘The Better Angels of our Nature‘ by Stephen Pinker which I was sort of fascinated by. Then last week there was a copy in the library which I’ve brought home and have started to read.
It is a very long book. Well, not very long, but long enough for me. And he is a very good writer so I am reading it and enjoying it.
But it feels like a much more dangerous book for a Christian to be reading than some of the books by Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins because
a) I enjoy his writing
b) He is very good at pulling out studies and burying you under a weight of smartness which you can’t be bothered to check out. You are just swept along by the writing
c) He shoots Christianity down, but doesn’t do it in a way that makes you particularly annoyed. Instead of trying to prove that he thinks it’s all wrong like Hitchens and Dawkins and that you should believe that it’s wrong (which gets your back up) he just gets on with assuming it’s all wrong and writing about the book.
So that’s what I’m reading at the moment. One thing I’ve noticed is that about a quarter of the book through and I don’t remember there being a definition of violence or what he means by violence.
I’m not sure what I mean by dangerous book for Christians to be reading. That sounds like my teenage days talking when people used to say that you couldn’t listen to rock music as it was from the devil.