The Dark Man: I Am Not My Anxiety, He Is.
You might have seen this guy floating about in many of the images I've drawn throughout the website. He is a big driving force for me creating this whole site in the first place and one of the first things I meant to write about. However, I have struggled with it since I want to make even the most uncomfortable of subjects in my head a bit funny for others to read about. Sometimes your only choices are to cry or to laugh, and it just feels better to laugh.
The Dark Man is the artistic representation of my anxiety. He is my demon, he is the driving force behind my many regrets, my failed relationships, my distanced friendships, and general motivation issues. Beating it is a constant test of will and sometimes takes more drive than I have. I also gave him a top-hat because top-hats make something look smarter, and it is important to note that anxiety is cerebral, it is smart, it is driven, it is patient, and it is consistent. If I had the dark man's drive and lack of empathy, I would be a CEO of a fortune 500 company by now.
Anxiety is weird, I've for sure seen and heard a lot of people open up and talk about it, but I'm still not sure how well understood it is by those who don't suffer from it. In many ways, it is like explaining what addiction is like to those who haven't been addicted to a substance before. We've been told for as long as I can remember that our minds are powerful, that we have control over it and those who don't are weak. Yet we've been telling ourselves this when our understanding of the mind was that it looked funny and made stuff work. As we have come to understand more about the mind, we have begun to learn that our control of it is about on the same level as your control over your house cat. Sometimes it will listen, other times it will bite you because you pet it when it was rubbing up against you in the universal kitty sign of "give me attention." Cats were not meant to be domesticated. Telling someone with anxiety to stop worrying is like telling someone who smokes to stop smoking, or someone who is grossly overweight to stop eating. In general, we should all stop telling someone to not do something that has become a part of their brain chemistry. However, that wont happen, because it must be hardwired into our brain chemistry to give bad advice. If the answer to mental illness was to turn the switch to "off" then we wouldn't be paying hundreds of dollars to talk to someone who went to school for multiple years of their lives to learn how to properly give advice to people.
The type of anxiety I personally struggle with is social anxiety. That means that in most cases the Dark Man appears anytime I am out in public, or around other people, or thinking about what other people are thinking about me or my work at any given moment. Social anxiety is very weird to me and being someone that over-analyzes as much as I possibly can, it doesn't make sense. It is driven by an idea that everyone is paying attention to everything I do and criticizing every possible mistake. I know that can't be the case because most people just don't pay that much attention to others, it simply isn't possible to, unless you're a government trained super spy. The Dark Man is a whisper in my ear letting me know that my standing there awkwardly, saying nothing makes me look stupid while also telling me that the sentences I'm thinking of saying are dumb, not funny, not interesting, and too late to insert into the conversation because I was too busy listening to him lie then actually giving this whole being a person thing a shot.
On a great many occasion I have stood in an elevator or walked by someone I sort of know thinking I should just say a normal pleasantry like have a good day, your hair looks nice today, I like that shirt. You know, nice things that I often appreciate when they are said to me, even though I have no idea how to respond to a compliment. Instead though, I just freeze up because there is this stupid top-hat wearing fucker telling me that it will make them feel weird, maybe they don't like their shirt, or that they think me talking about their hair is hitting on them, and that's creepy. Especially in an elevator, where no one wants to be in the first place and is this large moving box we are trapped in until it decides to let us free. Maybe it wont let us free, maybe it will freeze halfway between a floor and we'll be stuck there forever, turning to cannibalism. You know who goes first when there is a discussion about who should be eaten first? The quiet guy who is standing awkwardly in the corner, that's who! Why the quiet person? Because the quiet ones are always crazy. That's what they say anyway... the quiet ones are crazy, I'm not crazy... you're all crazy! You're the one's that are going to eat me! By the way, I like your shirt, you probably shouldn't get blood on it.
Okay, that last bit got a bit out of control, so... back on topic.
Anxiety sucks, it is hard to live with, it is hard to understand, and it is hard to explain. If the Dark Man has a goal, I believe it is to make sure I end up alone and scared of others, that way he can have me all to himself. He's like a super insecure boyfriend that wants to eliminate all of your connections to the outside world so he can abuse you in private and no one can help you. Well, just like those real life assholes, he can't win, and to anybody who deals with this dick bag like I do, he wont win.
To my friends and family who have dealt with me disappearing for months on end, seemingly at random. It isn't because of you, I promise. I appreciate every time you reach out to say hi, I appreciate every time you invite me somewhere, I appreciate every time you let me know you are there for me even though I don't exactly know how to utilize that offer. Sometimes there is never the right set of words to make this dick bag go away, but knowing I'm not lost to it, all alone, is often enough to make it shut the fuck up for a moment. I'm far from being in a place to give advice on how to beat it, because I'm still figuring it out. The Dark Man is with me quite often, and this website, this whole art and writing therapy thing is one way for me to cope and find a weakness. For example, I've been trying to write this particular piece for a few weeks now, wanting to make it perfect. Thinking that I'm coming at it from the wrong direction, maybe I wont explain it well enough, maybe I wont bring anything worthwhile to the conversation, maybe I wont write anything today. In the end, I just had to write, I had to finish this post and let everyone in that wants to be. It feels nice, and maybe one day, I'm going to beat this fucker for good.