Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Baseline Anxiety

Okay - movies, books and now anxieties. Oddly enough, an asteroid strike is not one of mine, though it seems to concern Professor Richard Crowther. Neither am I prone to hypochondria, though it's new web incarnation - cyberchondria - sounds entertaining.  This was research by Microsoft so it's no surprise that they conclude that desperate surfing to discover the cause of that appalling pain in your chest and a sudden and unprecedented desire to pray can lead to 'significant interruption at work'. My baseline anxiety is a journey that goes horribly wrong - it haunts my dreams - forgotten passports, lost luggage, arrest as terrorist etc etc. This is a very modern anxiety brought on by the cunning way airports have been designed to make you worry about everything.  Also, of course, travel often does go horribly wrong so, unlike asteroids, the threat is scarcely remote. Oh and machines breaking down - planes, obviously, and, since a 747 once did when I was on the flight deck, I feel I am being entirely rational. Long term readers will know I have gone some way to solving this problem by always travelling with a poached egg in each pocket


  1. I've been aware of the dangers of cyberchondria for some time. Never, ever Google your symptoms. Told myself and my wife that a million times, but neither of us listen.

    Apart from a deep-rooted dread of dementia and other cognitive malfunctions, the main day-to-day anxiety concerns acts of random violence in city centres. Probably been reading too much Elberry.

    Also motorway pile-ups, but that's rational.

  2. According to the most constant theme of my dreams it would be procrastinating for so long that I completely miss something rather important or exciting. (A word to my subconscious - just put Gabriela in my dreams and everyone's happy, right?)

  3. Two separate phases, had a volatile relationship with a domineering mother and at an early age decided to keep my own council, as a result became quite anxiety free for a long time. When in business it was twelve anxieties per year plus a massive one at the end of it, times thirty.
    Now strictly limited to the ups and downs within the family, the rest can go screw.

    Disgust however, there's a horse of a different colour, purple maybe. My utter disgust would fill a skip.

    Mountaineering is an excellent way to ditch anxiety, as is living off the beaten track.
    I tell you lot too much really.

    Never understood hypochondria, a silly side effect of self obsession maybe.

  4. At one time my baseline anxieties would quite likely have got me taken away and locked in a padded cell so you're not going to hear about them. Hahaha. If only they knew. Hahaha. Having taught myself not to care in order to deal with them, I now have to make an effort to care rather than say "it really doesn't matter" and hang loose. Actually very few things matter. Just a few do a lot. The rest don't. The world makes its living by getting us to forget which is which. So my baseline anxiety is, where is the anxiety these days? Surely it must be somewhere. I'll leave the world of "coping, "nerves" et al to others.

  5. Oh, my, Malty, you and I had similar childhoods methinks. Never thought of mountaineering as an antidote, but then -- I was in Florida. Did marry a guy with a Ph.D. in psychology, though....

    I'm about to go back to university teaching in January after a hiatus of 8 years, which I spent in a newsroom. I *was* a kick-*ss teacher, won all kinds of awards, loved and was loved by students, but I don't know now if I still have the stuff. i keep having anxiety dreams about teaching -- usually where I am in a classroom and it turns out I'm teaching math (a subject I am terrible at) and I'm trying to fake my way through it. Or I'm late. Or lost in the corridors, etc. That's my anxiety these days.

    Mark, hanging loose is almost always the best way to be. I wish I could do it more myself, but I start to want to manage things and have some control. You are right to practice Buddhism, boy. If I could free my mind enough, I would too.

  6. A doctor told me when I was 5 years old that his house had burnt down and he'd lost all his photos so he had no photos to show his children when they were older of their mother, who had died a few years previously. Ever since then I've always worried about my photos being burnt or burgled or swept away in a flood. Now because of digital photos, there's the added burden of the computer crashing and losing them that way!

    Also, nuclear bombs, tsunamis, gas attacks, tornados, gunmen popping up and spraying the room you're in with bullets and keep waiting for survivors to move and then killing them, aeroplanes/trains/cars crashing, boats sinking (drowning), Sizewell B having a meltdown, being bitten by a poisonous spider/snake, stung by a poisonous jellyfish, eaten by a crocodile/shark/bear, Alzheimers, being stabbed/mugged on the street, going insane...

  7. The most often recurring anxiety dream is one I've only started having quite recently - going into my finals completely unprepared.

    My waking anxiety is the fear of losing my only child. It doesn't pop up often but when it does, it renders me incapable of speech or movement.

  8. Beware Bryan, asteroids are no respecters of eggs ...

  9. i occasionally wonder if i might be insane. i haven't got to the stage of asking people if i seem insane, as most would probably say 'yes', but i do sometimes go over my, uh, 'beliefs' and think 'these are the sorts of things crazy people believe', then think 'but i'm not crazy, am i? or at least not like THEM.' It's kind of reassuring that some friends believe the same things as me, and seem perfectly sane, and can hold down responsible jobs, but still, every few months i do wonder...

  10. We often wonder as well elberry