If you’ve been outside or turned on the news lately, you know how weird it is out there. Between health and racial pandemics, floods and fires, police brutality, casual mentions of UFOs and asteroids just missing Earth, it’s safe to say we all have one or a hundred reasons to feel panic in our chest, difficulty breathing in our lungs and the ever-present shadow of the grim reaper. Anxiety is a monster, and there’s nothing great about it.
The only thing that would be truly weird is if you didn’t have anxiety right now.
What Is the Anxiety Monster?
Human beings are, at their core, reliant on social connection, information and the truth. So when those things become misaligned or go missing, say, with three months of self-isolating quarantine, the defiance of science by our top leaders and real-time murders televised from our cell phones, it triggers all sorts of emotions, repressed memories and past traumas then boils our blood until the negativity bubbles to the surface.
We like to call it the Anxiety Monster, mostly because it’ll eat you alive if you choose to ignore it.
Unlike the Boogie Man, your anxiety monster isn’t going anywhere when the sun comes up. It loves when you let your life get to you, or even just when life is crazy and surreal like it has been all of this year. Without the proper tools to attack anxiety back, this monster will bear-hug you in all the wrong places, from your head and your heart to your colon on down, tying you up in knots a sailor could not undo.
The biggest problem with preventing anxiety is that men, especially, have been taught to “man up” and suppress, hide and even deny these very emotions out of taught (and well-practiced) fear of being labeled weak. Would you like to talk about your feelings and potentially be labeled a “pansy,” “pussy” or “wimp?” Or would you rather roll the dice and stuff it down, snuggle in the fetal position with your anxiety monster and ignore countless other unaddressed issues until you eventually implode?
Does that make you man enough? No! And it doesn’t sound fun at all, either.
Photo: monkeybusiness (Envato Elements)
How Badly Is Anxiety Affecting Everyone, Really?
We’ve all witnessed some of the brutal daily trauma Black men in America are forced to deal with. Meanwhile, middle-aged white men have the highest rate of suicide in America, which averages close to 50,000 lives each year. Between the two, men are getting crushed on two fronts, and anyone who enjoys a good war movie knows it doesn’t end well when you’re surrounded. It’s an anxiety monster’s dream scenario. But if we’re willing to stand up against those who oppress us, we must also stand up against our own demons. And it starts with a conversation.
In light of the many injustices of today, many leaders in sports, entertainment and our communities have stepped forward where others have failed or missed their cues. And the stories we hear from these men about fear, ridicule and the challenge of being different or feeling less than may sound revolutionary, but they’re as common the cold. The reason they seem so refreshing or, dare we say, brave, is because of how rare it is to see vulnerability amongst the pack.
If modern manhood is based on survival of the fittest and devouring its “weakest link,” then we’re in trouble. Because that kind of toxic masculinity only destroys the pack. Our best chance at survival to admitting we’re all suffering from anxiety, then to normalize it and work through it without judgment as a whole. If you have the balls to admit you struggle with anxiety, that, in our opinion, makes you more of a man than ever!
Photo: bialasiewicz (Envato Elements)
How to Beat Your Anxiety Monster
Anxiety not only affects our mood, it affects our sleep, work and ability to be supportive to others, near and far. So if you’re dragging your feet, fighting with your favorite people or staring at the ceiling every night and you’re not sure why, it’s not you. It’s anxiety, and it’s never been more popular. Good news: There are ways to handle it. Just because it showed up at the party doesn’t mean it’s welcome.
Just so you know, right away: There’s no beating it for good. Your anxiety monster is a lot like that creepy uncle at Christmas. You might have to listen to him tell his pervy jokes every time the tree goes up, but you can smile and rest assured it doesn’t have to happen every day. But just in case the usual tricks don’t work, consider the following:
First of all, remember that you’re doing great. You’re doing great, and you’re trying your best, given the circumstances, so quit putting so much pressure on yourself all the time. Most of it is unnecessary, self-imposed pressure anyway.
Next, work it out. Whether you’re working out physically, writing it down or even loving your lady (yes, they appreciate that), anxiety is negative energy that can be cultivated for good. But you’ve got to get it out or else it’ll manifest into bigger problems.
Finally, talk it over. You can confide in your partner or your best friend, someone you trust (yes, even your mother). You’d be surprised how much of the same stuff your father has been through if you have the good fortune to speak with him about it. Now hear us out on this next part.
Talking With a Professional
We know that might sound crazy or weak or easily judged to “get help” or “see a shrink,” but these negatively connotative ideas are overdramatized. It’s just a conversation with someone who has a clue of how to help. It’s a lot better than venting to the same friend or family member who never signed up for your 24-hour tell-all, and it’s a million times better than venting to the wrong person, who just happens to be a massive gossip.
Talking, even just once, with someone who’s trained to understand what you’re dealing with, has the ability to shed light on things you never even notice and, more importantly, is paid to listen to the most terrifyingly shallow filth you have inside you but is not allowed to repeat said terrifyingly shallow filth.
Try it, you might love it. I did, and my life has only gotten exponentially better. You become clear about what you want and how to get there. And now I have someone in my life I can tell anything to, judgment-free, but I can also fire her without any consequence to myself, plus I don’t have to go to her birthday parties. Whatever you do, don’t hold it inside. It’ll feel good to let it out. Because a “real man” doesn’t burden himself by burying it deep down for no one to see. Working it out makes you man enough.
And if you really want to lift a weight off your chest, you should try voting this November. It’s more than just one monster’s worst enemy.
If you or someone you know struggled with severe anxiety, you can find help below.