Monday, September 14, 2015

Anxiety has a Say

Anxiety is a pig. It’s smart. And ugly. (Sorry if you think pigs are cute.) It grubs about. And that’s where the analogy ends. It shakes, it paces, it cuts. It takes a walk, a drink, a pill, a razor. It smiles and laughs at whoever it afflicts.

It doesn’t need a tap root. (Although it will grow one if given the chance. It’ll go straight to the heart, infect everything with a sick pulsing and lack of self-possession.) It crawls along the surface of the skin, creating a network of interlocking insanity, sealing over any escape. The pressure of the trapped angst causes rattling like a tea kettle: shuddering and shaking.

So you pour in liquid and solid to hopefully counteract the chemical mishap inside. A beer, a glass of wine, a Snickers, a lorazepam. Something. So you walk, pace, hopeful to move out the shakes. So you cut, knowing no other way to release the pressure—the tea kettle needs an opening—and knowing no other way to alert the world that the water is boiling; it’s time to turn off the flame.

And it works. And it doesn’t. The beer, or wine, is a wonderfully distracting flavor, but your alcohol tolerance is much to high for a buzzed relief. Walking moves the legs, great, but the hands continue to move on their own. Cutting lets out a deep seated strain of Anxiety. And it feels so, so good. But. But nothing. It’s perfect.

Until the regret, the guilt, the New Anxiety. The, oh, shit, that’s gonna leave a mark. Once the beautiful blood and satisfying scab are gone, once, if ever, the anxiety goes, the mark will not. The, oh God, I wasn’t supposed to do that. This is the only body I get. This will hurt someone else. The, someone else? Who else? Who is going to see this? What will s/he say? What will s/he do? The inability to stop seeing it, feeling it, acknowledging it.

Oh, yes, Anxiety is smart. The shaking that turns into pacing turns into cutting, and cutting revives the seemingly dead, dying Anxiety. Anxiety won’t die. Not if it has a say. Or a razor.


  1. The tea kettle needs an opening.

    How is it possible that, through only a string of words, you can transmit to me the "of course" nature behind the action of cutting---to take me from "But I don't understand why..." to "Of course, it makes perfect sense"?

    I'm in awe.

    1. Hi, Kay. I'm so glad (if that's appropriate to say) that I was able to communicate, to an extent, part of the "why" that drives anxious, compulsive cutting. Thank you for reading. I hope it is helpful to you.

    2. Oh, it helps so, so much. Both of my sisters have compulsively cut, and I feel as though you have given me a window into their reality. It deepens and widens my compassion and respect for them (they're strong, sensible; they're not pitiable victims). THANK YOU.