Sunday, July 21, 2013
I am a God: Anxiety, Writing and Spiritual Enlightenment
Language is really not any kind of means with which to treat a mental disorder. The mind, thoughts, the way we interact with life and nature are all so intangible. Whenever you try to express some truth or experience, no matter how eloquent the language, something will always be missing.
When I sit at breakfast, staring out over my eggs and my coffee and my kitchen, there are a thousand small things going on, some I am conscious of, some I am not, some I am sub-textually conscious of but ignoring. To try and explain the simple things drifting through my mind in a single moment is exhausting: I am worried about the fat content of the eggs, the way the black coffee will stain my teeth, the garbage being full, the overcast weather. I am thinking about my current physical state, and my mental state, calculating and re-calculating my sleep habits/hours, assessing potential caloric intake, thinking about my relationship status, mourning the ant I just killed as its legs scramble meaninglessly about its now crippled thorax. I could keep going with this paragraph, but the symbols I am using to detail the experience are really a distracting from the actual experience itself.
What should be clear from my example is that I suffer from social anxiety disorder as well as panic attacks. I have suffered with these problems since I was in Grade 6, and despite once believing they would leave me, they haven't and won't.
Going back to my original sentence "Language is really not any kind of means to treat a mental disorder", I also am going to have to (despite feeling egotistical and lame for some reason) call myself a writer. And in truth, I try to use language in part to entertain and be read, but probably more truthfully I write as a form therapy.
I hate the word therapy. In truth, I'm having mild anxiety from just typing this blog.
I just deleted like, 600 words from above.
Back to the point, sometimes I curse creation for making me suffer from both anxiety and a love of language because it is just that chattiness, the wordiness of my mind, the endless barrage of thought-speak that makes me boil over in fits of panic.
My mind is my enemy and words are its weapon.
I joined online support groups and went to therapists and read a bunch of shitty books and talked to my friends and family and all that shit, but really nothing every seemed to glean hope.
Except for one thing:
Some 10-12 years ago I happened to befriend a doctor who instead of giving me a lollipop after a checkup handed me a small book on Zen Buddhism.
"This shuts up the mind," he said when he handed me the book. I was 18.
It was a bit presumptuous seeing as I live in the heart of Christian-Canada, but I took the bait because he said the magic words: I could get rid of the words in my head.
(I should insert a gong .mp3 here)
Through this doctor, I began at first a small fan of Eastern Philosophy into becoming a full blown addict of any ideas related to Alan Watts, Osho , D.T Suzuki, Lao Tsu, the Vedas, Buddhist sutras, Tantra, Yoga, Taoism, Zen, Esoteric Christianity, Sufism, Hinduism, Jainism, you name it.
Everything seemed philosophically connected and pointing to one great idea: That there was a state of being one could attain, wherein the human personality became non-existent, and one lived wholly present and accepting of the moment, they lived the moment, as most things without chattering minds in nature lived, at peace.
Maybe this seems like bullshit, but having meditated somewhat regularly for the past ten years, I can say (albeit with personality and ego) that there have been times when, through the use of mantras or kundalini or breathing or smoking or sound, I have been able to achieve a state of near-thoughtlessness. In this state I have felt everything slow down to the point that moments exist as if all important. Everything feels and seems beautiful, even the bad stuff. The world is like, glossy. In these moments I feel cured, I feel awake.
Eventually though, life pervades back in. Bills come back, family comes back, responsibilities come back and then you're shaken from your state of meditative peace, but once you have a taste of it, all you think about is going back there.
So, in a kind of perversion of this idea, instead of working on attaining this state of peace, I am working on a novel, which will be released by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2014 that attempts to recreate the struggle I have had balancing anxiety, word-love, and the need for enlightenment. I am finding that as I write, sometimes I am opening myself up in such a way that I feel anxiety and panic more readily than normal. Just this morning for example I sat outside of a Tim Horton's for 8 minutes listening to top 40 music in my car, paralyzed about the fact that I might see someone I know in the coffee shop, that my hair was messy, that I looked overweight, that I looked tired, that I might have to have a conversation, that I actually am tired, that I might be highly tempted to order a chemical cocktail "Iced-Cap".. that anything. This wouldn't have happened had I not spent the entire morning writing about a time in my past when I was paralyzed about going into a different coffee shop. I basically recreated a past-anxiety fit via writing into real life.
Contrariwise though, I have also felt moments of meditative bliss while writing this novel. It's given me the incentive to practice new meditation and yoga techniques, part as research but also in part to help me write better about the experience. Just last week you could have spotted my silhouette posed in vipassana against a pink sunset. It was fucking poetic.
The thing is, I don't know where I will end up as I close in on the final bits of this manuscript. I may end up more neurotic and anxious than ever, or I could turn some kind of corner and find a new depth of spirituality. Every day seems less stable than the rest, an hour of anxiety here, a moment of peace there...Also, the book could suck. I mean, it could be shit and not make sense to anyone. God knows it doesn't really make sense to me at the moment.
The real problem I'm going to have now though is whether I decide to push that publish button on this post or just delete the whole thing.