A while ago, in the throes of some anxious moment or other, I told the Man that I wanted to stop taking my (low-grade) anti-anxiety medication, because (arbitrarily) I'd decided I'd been on it too long. And he asked me something that I had never, not once, asked myself, not in three years. That's great, he said. What have you done to actually reduce the anxiety?
So I pretended to be all offended for a little bit, and then admitted, with some chagrin, that I hadn't done anything. I'd started taking the medicine. It had worked. That was it.
"But I'm happier now than I was then," I said.
"That's not the point," he said.
So today, as I was walking home from work, I tried to pinpoint precisely what anxiety feels like, to me. I had to get beyond the physical manifestations. I think I wanted a metaphor. I figured if I could understand something greater than the fact that worrying over something made me dizzy, my heart race, I could also understand something greater than the relationship between medicine and symptoms.
What I came up with is this: it feels like something is eating you. That is, it's a bit like being in the belly of a beast, your thoughts held captive so that it's the beast's voice, not yours, in your head. That tingling in your toes is the nibbling of the great monster; the dizziness is the Alice-esque fall down the monster's throat and the disorientation after, the doubt, that's the dark cavern of a cruel belly.
Quite what this says about anything, I don't know, except that maybe I shouldn't try to overthink things, but there we are anyway.