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In Which I Am Anxious

trigger warning: mental illness

As I write this, I am anxious.

Not anxious as in nervous, but anxious as in thoughts constantly racing, stomach always tense, mind and emotions spinning in different directions.

I have clinical anxiety and OCD - specifically, obsessive thinking - which offshoots regularly into depression as well.

I am, I suppose, what's called 'high functioning' : I can get up - most days - get showered, dressed, pick up my bag and head out and try and do what I need to do.

But the fact is you can be technically high-functioning and still your mental illness can exert a choke hold on your emotions, your self-identity, your self-worth, your life, your decisions (or indecisions).

Mine does exactly all those things, every day.

It's what stopped me from committing to finding a career in the creative arts earlier on in my life - there were too many ideas and options and possibilities jumping about everywhere, my anxiety turning my mind into a popcorn machine, except one that didn't make popcorn, just paralysed me.

But writing has, for a number of years, been the one thing - truly the one thing - that allowed a sense of stability, a sense of focus, a sense of being able to 'do this'.

A sense of finding myself, really.

Of course, there is no easy, permanent solution to clinical mental illness - it's something you aim to learn to manage and live with, not cure, and most days you feel very far away from doing either of those things.

It DOES affect your life.

It DOES make things harder for you than it would be if you didn't have it.

You DO have to assess things differently to how others do because you have it.

It DOES often hold you back, no matter how 'high functioning' you appear to the world.

I am grateful that I've come to writing as the thing I want to spend most of my time doing in my life - I'm grateful that my mind gives me this escape and respite, and possibility of other ways of being.

My biggest fear is that my anxiety, ocd and depression will, one day, throw up a big, solid brick wall to writing that I can't break down or climb over.

But I also try to believe that creativity is its own life-force - if it's in you, it will always find a way to rebirth and renewal, and it will always be there for you.

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