On Anxiety & Freedom: Saurav's Story

- Saurav

Almost a decade has elapsed since I was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder NOS with disposition to existential crisis. After almost a hundred counselling hours and erratic and morose reactions to medications, I feel that I have now transcended the mental inhibitions rendered by this disease.

Neurosis is a living hell for those who suffer from it since it creates an entropy of chaos and order in our mental faculties. An individual seems normal from the outside, but his/her daily life is affected in an unprecedented way. But one can question ‘what is normalcy?’ The path towards socially established normalcy is paved with uneven bricks, with an urgent need to be free of ongoing existential anguish and independence from our deeply rooted conscience that is socialized from our childhood, leading up to an ongoing process of social learning throughout adult life and into dotage. I, for one, was seeking freedom in terms of understanding life and why I should live a seemingly meaningless life.

Science seeks to eliminate many commonly held values which try to limit our sense of freedom, since societal values are adherents to religious dogmas. To understand science is to comprehend the absurdity of life because organized religion induced morality only answers questions of human existence in the most illogical way possible. In my teens, I devoured for the meaning of life in Freudian texts, Miller-Ulrey theories and Dostoevskian novels which have dogmatic yet existential approach to answering the two fundamental questions I has seeking the answers for: 1) Where do we come from? 2) Where are we going? Conventional wisdom didn’t make sense.

In my pursuit of the meaning of life, I realized that something was not right within me. I was incorrigibly depressed. This lowness turned out to be a symptom of an anxiety disorder which has engulfed me in my pursuit of understanding life. Now a new challenge arose, that of conquering this disease. However, teenage years offer no maturity in dealing with issues like anxiety, phobia and depression. It felt like I was having the time of my life by being depressed. I became addicted to sadness and, when in moments of bliss when I became genuinely happy, I realized that I had the capacity to merely turn off the happiness button. Happiness or the state of mind which is both positive and lucid, was a state of disorder for me. It havocked chaos into my soul. Sadness became the order of mind and I was complacent in its ensuing process which I thought gave more perspective of life in my pursuit of understanding life itself. In retrospect, I became a teenage philosopher of sorts dwelling on the most pessimistic, incoherent and imprudent of thoughts. To be honest, my friends and social circle encouraged it in ways more that I realized at that moment. I was deemed as a pagal, psycho and bheja; the linguistic implication of which called for celebration and pride to be metaphorically called an eccentric. In the milieu of childish influence from sex, soft drugs and rock and roll these derogatory terms meant that one was outside the box and was creative and original. Of course, everyone is dealing with their own mess but the answer to these questions in this stage of life came from within; the more messed up one was the more hip s/he was. Such is teenage wisdom and I was no exception.

It seemed like an exciting time to be alive. But the world would soon come crashing down on me. With erratic and violent behavior, I was suddenly made to sit with a psychiatric. I was expelled from both school and college. I had the most acrimonious of affair with a girl who of course dumped such a loser. I found a group of friends in college who had a similar approach towards life: self-loathing and pessimistic of life. My search for the meaning of life had turned into a depressive act of defiance against society and its superficial order of things. I was now diagnosed with a mental disorder which was morbidly appealing and limited my potential for personal growth. I was now an atheist, a nihilist and the most unsociable person to hang out with. College life was over. Friends began their careers in earnest. Girlfriends vanished out of country. My family life was at its lowest. I had come to my wits end and the only answer to the meaning of life was that it was meaningless, which wasn’t the most convincing answer. I realized that the freedom in life which I had tried to achieve was a mere teenage philosophical speculation. I now had to live a practical life of a man for college was over and all the fun was too. The prospect of being known as an eccentric wasn’t appealing anymore.

With all things said and done over the course of years, I realized that my wont and desire for sadness has dissipated for it only brought me torment, suffering and contempt in life. I had to change my ways, or I was to be engulfed into a soul sucking life of hate, sadness and fear. Suddenly, it dawned on me that the meaning of life was but love. Where do we come from? Where do we go? We came from love and we move towards love. I had to leave this stupid yet quintessential question of philosophy to scientists of quantum realm and theologists. It was simply not my cup of tea. I had escaped love all this time and what I thought of love till now was but mere desires from teenage angst.

Anxiety disorders come in all shapes. I was affected by it both psychologically and physically. Symptoms included eerie tremors in muscles, unusual palpitations, lack of concentration, phobias, depression, incessant sweltering, non-specific fearfulness, irritability, sleep deprivation and self-loathing. I would find myself either chain smoking or drinking coffee to reduce stress and energize myself. I found myself not able to concentrate fully and my memory also waned significantly. I consulted with my psychiatrist seriously and took counselling sessions seriously albeit it was boring and didn’t yield too much. I knew I had to find a way of overcoming this disease which was killing me slowly. It was killing me because I was a dysfunctional, self-obsessed, unproductive and pessimistic young adult. I felt that the counselling and medications weren’t going to be very effective if I continued this melancholic thinking process. I needed a new mindset. I needed to change my lifestyle.

It was a slow and painfully tedious process. I began with drinking enough water and physical exercise. I slowly changed my sleeping time. I now woke up in the early morning and began writing my thoughts. I took care of my appearance which meant I began loving myself for the first time in life. I read literature of all sorts, turned off my social media accounts, found myself a low paying job but kept on giving unparalleled effort for I kept myself busy of thoughts. I cut out cigarettes and caffeine, gave up on fast food, sugar and junk food. Slowly, I recovered from my addiction to sadness and turned myself into a sociable and free-thinking person.

Apropos to the thoughts surrounding my inability to keep up with societal values and the need for order, traditions and urges to be free of religious practices, I still scorn but I scorn in my own way. I write about it and perceive it in terms of theories of sociology, laws of physics and simply accept that humans need to have faith in something that is intangible, irrational and cosmological. I feel that I am free, yet I am in chains for human relationships are a web and one cannot escape them. I feel free because I have come to accept that human life is meaningless and in the simple joys of life we find meaning and we have to cherish life, for after life we are unconscious and, simply, one needs to visit the other side to know about these things. At the moment, we live, and we should live with love accepting that life is both meaningless and meaningful at the same time.

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