Ambient Anxiety

31/03/2012 § Leave a comment

The first reading for my Ritual Theory course this semester was Freud. It turned out to be a bizarre, eerie foreshadowing of the course my semester would take. During the winter break, I started experiencing heightened anxiety. In mid-December, I had an injury that led to numbness in my left side. The first time it happened, I decided that I was experiencing Deep Vein Thrombosis. In January, on the night before my 25th birthday, I ended up in the hospital in the middle of a panic attack. I was completely convinced that I was having a heart attack and I was going to die. I had been having heart palpitations for the last several weeks. I checked my pulse all the time. I went to a cardiologist, who confirmed that I have odd rhythms, but otherwise was fine. In late January or early February, I started experiencing random pains/pangs in my abdomen. Yesterday, I met with the gastroenterologist for the second time, and she told me I am likely experiencing IBS. Today, I am convinced I must have liver disease, because she didn’t check my hepatic function. I have also seen the dermatologist. I am hyper-aware of my body. I have also been under the care of a therapist and a psychiatrist. In late February, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I am in group therapy, one-on-one therapy… My life is absorbed by appointments. Often, I have therapy or group or a medication check before seminar, which leaves me feeling completely exhausted. 

The Obsession portion of my OCD is somatically focused, as you might guess. I am hyper-aware of my body. My thoughts of illness are uncontrollable so far, although we’re working on it. They tend to invade my head at the most inopportune times, and usually in times of high stress. So, in the middle of class, or trying to write a paper. The images and thoughts persist until what I call my “ambient anxiety” (something like background radiation) increases until I complete the Compulsion portion — Checking. I do bodily checking (checking my pulse, for example, but also prodding and examining myself). I also check the internet for symptoms, which can either press the panic button completely or reduce my ambient anxiety down to a manageable level. That is how I happen to be sitting in front of my computer, day after day, attempting to write a paper, but failing because when I start to write, my brain reacts by becoming certain I have viral hemorrhagic fevers. Well, perhaps not that bad, but similar. Mostly, I worry that I have cancer. Last week, I worried about sucralose.

It is now less that 48 hours until the due date. The more stressed out the paper makes me, the more my intrusive thoughts, well, intrude. 

What is most interesting for me, trying to get outside of my head and impress upon myself the absurdity of my behavior, is that there is no tangible relationship between my obsession and my compulsion. Checking my symptoms and my body does nothing to really ensure that I am not dying of Vestigial Morality Cancer &c. 

I am inclined to think of Staal. I still don’t think he was talking about the fractal, continually-created nature of the universe.






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