Living Out Loud

Don't Worry About It


Over the past 30 or so years, I've learned to be pretty candid about my mental health when appropriate. I'm pretty open about being in long term recovery because I think people who are struggling with booze or drugs need to know there is hope. Like a lot of other people in the modern age, I've had my struggles with anxiety and depression at times too, but thanks to changing norms in society, I don't feel any shame attached to those struggles. It's something I've gone through and survived, so more power to me, you know? (And to you).

My grandfather wanted to help me so much when I was struggling the hardest, but he just didn't know how. His answer to alcoholism was "Just don't drink." That's the same as telling a severely depressed person to "Just cheer up." It would be nice if it worked like that, but it just doesn't.  Actually, though, he did help me because when I was at my most unlovable, he continued to love me anyway. I didn't feel like I deserved it, but he didn't care. The man just didn't give up on people and sometimes that's what we need, someone to believe in us we doubt our own worth. 

These days my anxiety centers almost exclusively around things totally out of my control and knowing that, the effect is somewhat mitigated. I worry about stuff like the fate of democracy, the effects of climate change, racists in positions of power and economic disparity. I feel like an ant in a giant anthill though. Knowing that my power lies solely in being the best citizen I can, I don't stress about not being at the vanguard of the revolution to make everything OK. I'm stuck somewhere between fatalism and optimism, I suppose. I seek out the company of fellow travelers IRL and online. I tune out the conservative rage machine almost totally and I spend a sufficient amount of time thinking about things that make me happy. 

I also have a strict list of things I definitely do not let cause me anxiety. At the top of that list is worrying about if I use my phone too much. I actually feel sorry for the people who feel like they need a strategy to keep their phone from making them sad. My phone makes me happy. I pull that sucker out while I'm waiting for a cup of coffee to brew and enjoy 30 seconds of pleasure while reading a Reddit post. I'm definitely a take your phone to the toilet person too (TMI, sorry). It's the last thing I look at at night and the first thing I look at in the morning. I. LOVE.MY.PHONE. I remember what it was like when all I could think about was where my next drink was coming from. I am not going to stress because I looked at one too many Facebook posts. I will never, ever get arrested for blogging under the influence, nor will I cash out my wife's 401K to buy more data for my cell phone plan. It's not like cocaine. It's just a phone.