Angst and melancholy aside, I persistently fear that I will never be able to happily integrate into society. I know I need help, but I can’t figure out how to overcome my negative emotions and in succumbing to them I only feed into my cycle of avoidance and disappointment.
I live in a state of persistent flight response. The depressive lethargy that accompanies this anxiety only worsens the problem. It has taken a long time for me to understand the avoidant urges I experience as anxiety. Basic functional tasks have become drawn out, painful exercises in will. Mustering the energy to overcome an irrational fear of showering
can take half the day. Yet I know that I feel energized and happy when I am clean and comfortable. I’m not afraid of the shower – I think I subconsciously fear being rejected or negatively judged in spite of my efforts to adhere to social norms. I experience the same process whether I want to buy groceries or do my class work. It is hard to describe, but I am regularly overtaken by an intense “scrunched up” feeling, as if there were a black hole in my chest about to implode my limbs and body. I have had a very moderate amount of success overcoming this by telling myself that the worst case scenario is better than the outcome of avoiding the situation/activity that stimulated the fear. How can I approach this subconscious mechanism so that I may understand the reasons I respond the way I do and effectively change my behavior?
At the same time, I consciously reject many of the principles that direct modern society. I am not religious, I believe in the spirit of capitalism but am appalled by the excess and irresponsibility of our consumption oriented culture, I would rather make someone happy than make a profit. To be concise, I love humanity but am overwhelmed by society. I fear that even if I successfully finish my studies and find a productive role within society that any good I am able to accomplish will be outweighed by my taking of a functional role within a civilization that values punishment over forgiveness, wealth over health, and violence before understanding. I’m not okay with that on a deeply existential level. It’s hard for me to accept that in order to meet the expectations of society I must condone some level of morally reprehensible actions.
I also need grief counseling. My mom was diagnosed three years ago with terminal cancer, and while she’s alive and doing well I cannot avoid the ticking time-bomb of reality. I spent a long time helping my mom through her initial treatment and have grown closer to her. But the topics of death or cancer are usually enough to set me off. I can’t handle it now – what can I do to maintain some dignity and respect when things finally go pear shaped? In truth, I am writing this because I encountered the topic of death in my studies and couldn’t bring myself to do the related work. Though I have experienced anxiety throughout my life, I suspect my response to my mother’s illness has exacerbated the problem. If I were to rate my emotional stability, I would say that I am less stable today -- more prone to outbursts of anger, fear or sadness – but the actual presence of negative emotions is not significantly greater than my historical baseline.
Understanding that I hardly qualify as a functional human, how can I overcome my subconscious perceptions and become a productive member of society? I need friends and social support, but I am very isolated. I am going to give pharmaceuticals a chance, but I haven’t come to terms with the fact that I may need to pay for a magic substance to “fix” the way my brain functions. There is something sick and twisted about paying to pharmacologically manipulate my neurochemistry so that I can functionally exist within a consumption oriented society so I can have enough money to pay for my pills so I can maintain a job so I can buy more crap ad infinitum.
Is there a support group or some form of social assistance for people like me? I just want to be happy and productive. I want to have the energy to read a book, keep my house clean, and maintain friendships. I am sick of this miasmatic angst that clouds my perception and prevents me from achieving a functional existence. Your thoughts and suggestions will be appreciated. I've set up a throwaway email account
if you wish to contact me.