View Full Version : Is FEAR justified?
05-08-2007, 05:39 PM
This is my first post on this forum. After reading several posts here I would like to say that I truly feel for ALL of the people on this forum (and everywhere) who are dealing with this (often highly) disabling condition.
I personally have reached the point in the past several months where my condition has become completely unmanageable. Sometimes I cant gather the nerve to leave my apartment because I am so afraid of freaking out. I am even afraid to interact with the people who I know and like, because I don't want them to see me in this current condition.
The basic background of my story is this: I am a 30 year old man who suffers from a neurological disorder which causes me to make uncontrollable movements and sounds. I have dealt with it for my whole life. However, it seems that at the age of around 30 you come to the realization that if you haven't got things together it only gets harder with time. A major part of my current state is related to dealing with this realization. I have had a very difficult life trying to deal with the disorder, social ostricism, dysfunctional family, and am now living on the threshold of poverty (near eviction) with the inability to work -- thank god for social security (or at least the minimum attempt at it). My last few cash jobs in the past few months lasted around 1 week each. Then I freaked out and it was a real mess. I am glad to have at least made a few hundred bucks to pay my rent for the month.
The worst part of it all is that I am an attractive guy and take good care of myself at the gym. However I think this may be contributing EVEN MORE to the anxiety as people assume that I am okay. I guess it would feel better if I didn't draw attention from people.
The pressure from society as you age only becomes greater as you watch the world pass you by. On the positive side, however, I find comfort in the fact that the whole society is messed up at this point. Sometimes I feel that being too immersed in that society would be more of a curse than a blessing. This leads me to the main point of this post...
I have read many places that the definition of anxiety is : the aversion to an unjustified harmful stimulus which we have learned to avoid through negative past experience. Alternatively, the definition of FEAR is documented as : the aversion to a JUSTIFIED harmful stimulus which we have learned through past experience.
I guess the dilemma that I have a this point is simply this : Is the current state of American society NOT a "justified harmful stimulus" which one may learn to fear through negative experience? I currently live in Los Angeles California - a city built on materialism, shallowness, and crime. Dealing with the (generally) toxic people here is enough to make ANYONE want to lock themselves up in their apartment. I don't own a television because every time I turn it on I want to throw it out the window. I don't agree with what is happening in this society, but at the same time can't escape it. It got to the point 2 years ago where I just decided to up and leave and went to live in a third world country for a year. Now, I am considering going back as it seems like there is no progress to be made here for me. However, it also seems that this constant anxiety has become so much a part of my personality at this point that I will take it with me wherever I go.
So, the real question is simply this? Could it be that the conflict between one's values and personality and that of the society in which they live can be so intense that it is inevitable for one to experience social anxiety/phobia? And if so, could the justified solution be to simply go somewhere else which is more conducive to one's preferences? I guess the ulitimate question I am asking is : Is someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder at this time an ABNORMAL person, or are they a NORMAL person reacting to an ABNORMAL external environment (ie, society)??
05-12-2007, 09:52 AM
Interesting question you brought up. I thought I'd thought of everything seeing as I apparently "think too much" but I hadn't thought of the fact that maybe anxiety is a symptom caused by exposure to a disfunctional society. It is interesting. If I go back to when I first had panic attacks about 13 years ago, it was around the same time I broke up with my first long term girlfriend. It was handed down to me hereditarily by my dads side.
Anyway, that doesn't have a direct association with dysfunctional society BUT it did come about because I was stripped from my safe world where everything went my way and I was lunged head first into a brutal world or devistating emotional imbalance and the start of a new journey without a partner. So I guess it can be related in the sence. I do remember getting mild cases of panic when I was really young, like about 13 years old or younger, when I felt wierd but couldn't explain to my mum how I felt when she asked. I used to say I just felt 'everything'. Then later on I got the full blow when I was around 21. I am now 34.
So, I won't go on about myself, I just wanted to say that I am thinking about what you said and that I am sorry to hear you are in such a state and I hope both you and I find a way through. Did you go to the 3rd world country after you had anxiety or before. If it was after, then, did it help you or not to deal with it ? I was also going to escape my imediate world too, hoping to see more of the world without so much commercialism. I don't own a t.v. either. I thijnk we have similar views. I love watching movies like garden state and spotless mind and i heart huckabees but i flippn hate t.v.
anyway, keep in touch if you wanna talk more.
05-12-2007, 11:32 AM
Thanks for the reply. I understand what you are going through. It's good to know that we are not alone.
Did you go to the 3rd world country after you had anxiety or before. If it was after, then, did it help you or not to deal with it ?
The anxiety has been worsened by living overseas. A major part of it at this point is that I can't readjust to the home society because I can see much more clearly how messed up it is. So I just have to sit back and watch things decline and not be able to do anything about it, in addition to having few people here who even realize a problem as they are so brainwashed and know nothing else. In addition, part of the reason why I can't work is because I can't deal with the people. This of course is causing serious financial problems as I am living in the grips of poverty (in a housing market where the cost of a simple studio apartment is $800/month plus. I get cash jobs for a few weeks and then when I can't stand the people anymore I just quit. The problem is that it is getting harder to find such jobs as more and more people seek them as they can no longer afford to get by with the "normal" job (where so much of their income goes to taxes and a dysfunct social security system) that they don't even have enough money to pay their rent even though they are working a full-time job. Trust me, I know plenty of people in this situation.
I am not saying that the third world is perfect - far from it. However, what it does have is at least some basic humanity. The developed world is simply devolving into a soulless vortex ridden with alienation and criminal perversion in my opinion.
I am in the active planning stage of taking off again back to the third world. There is nothing here for me. It is like a prison. At least over there I can live a basic and comfortable life. If I can't survive due to the anxiety problem over there (or for whatever other possibloe reason), then I don't even care anymore. I have no fear of death at this point. To me the real death is being trapped in a dysfunctional world where it seems that we are constantly at war with forces which are beyond our control - not to mention the fact that those forces are only growing in virulence and reach.
05-13-2007, 09:15 AM
wow, we have such a similar view. i do web design and have been working at a great web studio up til about 2 weeks ago when i quit. it was mainly because we were doing work for a lot of mining comapnies and they are the biggest contributers to not only an environmental downfall but also a social one. they treated us as slavees, lied to us, blamed everyone but themselves, wanted us to put them infront of everyone else, comaplined about everything and basically lived a life that is legal if you dont count raping people and the earth of its soul, illegal.
so i left and am going to do freelance again where i get to pick my clients who are usually artists, musicians and other nice people.
I have been really tempted to live on an island group like fiji or indonesia where people are respectful and appreciative. i also thought that europe might be awesome too, cos there are some nice countries over there that have people that are not too consumer driven.
my brother has recently married and is living in LA. I am from Australia. It is not too bad over here on the whole but is getting increasingly worse as we live in the shodow of america and mimic everything they do but we are 100 years behind playing catch up. its very sad. we even have a lot of aborigines and south west europeans weartring the full gangsta wear and doing stupid crip/blood signs with there hands like they were from 1980's LA. very sad but thats another story.
so i guess like you, i feel trapped too but a good thing is that its like not knowing how to swim but you are standing on a burning raft in the middle of the water. you jump off to avoid burning to death and hope you learn to swim really quickly.
i find it hard to leave due to anxiety issues but staying will just get me depressed and hopeless. so i guess i will make the move really soon.
if you go anywhere near an island (like from the game 'farcry') and it looks like a paradise with nice locals, and you are into web design, please let me know. we could probably make a very comfortable and relaxed living from it.
take it easy and know that you are not alone. who knows, the world might have to go through all this damage natually before we can repair it. it might be naturally in our nature and the master plan.
05-31-2007, 12:01 PM
Hi roach (that's a pretty ugly name isn't it? But if you feel like carrying it, please do),
this post reminds me of one I wrote here few months ago, where I basically arised the same question. I don't live in America but in Sicily, though don't think it's better. It is an island, and people are so fucking closed minded you wouldn't think they're for real. I have travelled around and I'm aware all places have both positives and negatives. I started having problems when I became culturally and socially aware of the negatives. I didn't want to leave home and see the condition the world is.
You know what the solution would be? Keep living as adults like we were children - having the same spirit. We'd find just the right company or stay alone - and we wouldn't be sad, and we wouldn't give a shit about who likes us or not, and just make our stuff (play our toys). There is a lot of pretentiousness and arrogance in our living jobs because we can't stand the people, and in our being "us against the world".
If we're better, we're so by coincidence. Ok, we earned some stuff, skills, we're more intelligent than a lot of people - but one more skill we need to learn is copying with people and society however bad and ugly it is.
It is bad and ugly, and we are human and we can get upset and we should allow us to do so. Sometimes scream from the bottom of our hearts how much we would like things to be different. Let's allow us to be human, but let's still perfect ourselves. If we fail, ok, but we need to keep trying: my mother, an icelandic woman who moved to the completely different reality of sicily, is a beautiful example of so. She is upset from time to time, but she gained great detachment from people and what they do/think. I must learn to be like her. She wasn't born like that. So I'm sure I can do it too.
So, have you tried to accept things as they are and just "float past" the people you disagree with? Those horrible ones? Why would you let them disrupt your life? Are they better than you? Of course no!!!
Don't do that. Don't even think about them, just practice not worrying (if anxiety became part of your personality, this can be changed, as you weren't like that since the beginning) and surely you will find ONE person who feels you. And that will be enough. Don't give the ugly world the attention it does NOT deserve. Just because we're here, we don't need to make the world hell - and this is up to us. THERE ARE CERTAINLY GOOD THINGS OUT THERE, so beautiful you'd forget all the rest, so go out and look for them IGNORING the rest. The world is still the world, but YOU would have made it your personal heaven.
You need this to become the star you are. Suffering ain't enough. Is what you do with it that matters. When you see things start to get better, you'll gain so much confidence you'll laugh to the fact you used to worry about people.
05-31-2007, 04:30 PM
You make some good points. It is a coincidence because a few weeks ago my laptop crashed on me. I was getting so caught up and obsessive with the computer that I wouldn't even leave the apartment for days at a time. This only made the anxiety/agoraphobia issue worse. What I then started doing is simply taking very long bike rides into different areas of the city I live in (Los Angeles). Justing getting out there in the fresh air and seeing some of areas of the city (the rich and especially the poor) seems to have helped snap me out from the deep, dark place I have been in for a few months. I am not saying that I am cured of the anxiety, but instead that the act of moving and seeing new things can really have a rejuvenating effect. As I have done photography in the past I feel like I am getting back into the routine of that - riding around exploring and taking pictures. In fact I recently received notice that one of my photographs has made it to the semifinal round of an international competition!
I think that sometimes (yet not all of the time, and to differing degrees) we need to do something to snap ourselves out of the rut we are in. It is as if we are computers which short-circuit sometimes. We need a healthy jolt to the system to snap us out of the dead-end mental place that we are in. Otherwise, we simply get stuck in one spot and can't see a way out. I think it is kind of interesting that a form of medical treatment for depression and even heart attack is to apply an electric shock to the body to knock the system out of it's aberrant state. It seems that there may be a mental component to this phenomenon as well. I am not saying that the external world does not play a part in driving us there. It is that once we end up in that state we have to try to snap ourselves out of it. It seems like the solution I have found recently is somewhat effective. I hope other people will try it and may find it helpful.
So, in accordance with what you have stated in your above message, I can agree that our place in the world is a matter of perspective and that we have to try to adapt to the situation while also giving ourselves some slack. However the rut that we are in exists in different degree at different times for different people. I also believe that the current state of developed societies has increasing factors which produce stress on the individual and make it more difficult to maintain a adaptable perspective. I guess the hope is (like you said) to continue trying and picking up the pieces and moving on when things don't work.
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