I have been experiencing a great deal of anxiety these last few months. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say that in common with most people, a sudden and large injection of cash would make things a lot easier. What it feels like, is a tension in my belly. And when it gets really bad, that tension travels to my chest. I have learned over the years that when I feel something in my chest, things have gone a bit too far.
If I was really struggling, if I couldn’t pay my mortgage or for food, then I would embrace that tightness in my chest as entirely natural. How else should one feel such fear? But I’m not in that situation. What I have been thinking is irrational and even obsessional. What I have been feeling is the result of that irrationality.
The most galling aspect of this bout of unhealthy thinking is its impact on my writing. I had big ambitions this year, but it is July and I haven’t written a thing. And that has added to my anxiety. I am neither a prolific nor a successful writer but I have arranged a great deal of my life to enable me to be a writer. If I am not writing, then who the Mordor am I?
It’s not a simple case of not being able to write because I’m anxious about money, it’s more that when I’m day-dreaming or trying to imagine how a story should go, I keep thinking about winning the lottery. Or when I manage to get past that silliness, I get distracted by thoughts of commercial success.
How irrational has my money obsession been? In desperation to get my head straight, I sought professional help. Yep, I am in the privileged positon of being able to afford to see a therapist about my anxiety. There’s enough irony in that for a novel. But it did emphasise to me that my anxiety was irrational.
A couple of DMs and a few phone calls later, I had an appointment with a therapist. I used the term ‘privileged’ earlier. When it comes to mental health it really does all come down to privilege. It shouldn’t, but it does. Think on it, wannabe writer, worried about money, can pay to see a therapist within a few days of deciding a therapist is necessary. I don’t mean to downplay the effect anxiety is having on me, nor do I feel any guilt that I can get the help I want and need, but what if my money concerns weren’t irrational?
I’ve had one session and I may have more, because I can afford it. I already feel less tension in my chest and learned a great deal about how writing forms an important part of my identity. Hopefully that means I can salvage some part of this year’s ambitions. More importantly, I might rediscover the reason why I write in the first place, the enjoyment of telling stories. And being aware that it is an unearned privilege.