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Dubai Diaries: The mind against the world

anamika@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 3, 2021
Photo/Alamy.ae

I was 15 when the world 'clinical anxiety' entered my life.

“She is upset. So what?” a friend messaged. We had been discussing Naomi Osaka stepping out of the French Open. In an elaborate message on social media, Osaka had said that she is suffering from depression and anxiety, and being in front of the press, finding herself answering repetitive questions did get a bit overwhelming. “How can someone who gets out to play a match with hundreds of people watching her get overwhelmed by the press?” That’s precisely the point, my friend.

I was 15 when the word ‘clinical anxiety’ entered my life. I was still in school, overwhelmed by the academic pressure, but it had been affecting me differently than most others in the class. The physical manifestation of that anxiety was mild tremors in my hands.

My parents, who are not exactly optimists, thought maybe this was early Parkinson’s, but the doctor helpfully told them otherwise. He said that I might have anxiety, but mum and dad could not figure out what exactly was making me anxious. Frankly, even I couldn’t. Yes, life could have been simpler, but it never was. The time before an exam would mean shortness of breath, a certain churning in the stomach and sleepless nights.

Playtime would mean enjoying to the fullest while also fighting a thought or two about what if I were to fall and injure myself. Anxiety is not simply wearing your worries up on your sleeve. It is a pattern of thinking, it is your mind waging a war against your instinct. To those who are not part of this uneasy existence often find it hard to understand what is going so wrong with my life. It’s tough to explain that an anxious mind interprets situations differently.

When I entered journalism, I did not expect the going to be easy. The world is not only competitive, but it demands you process unhappy news on page and in your mind. But the real trouble was the profession just could not afford you to disconnect. When I look back at those years now, I wonder how I came even this far with my trembling hands with anxiety lurking in my mind. The truth is where there is passion, resilience follows.

Where there is writing and creativity, anxiety takes a backseat. Perhaps I feel more jittery when there are 200 WhatsApp messages to respond to. Which is why I completely understand why someone like Osaka can go out in the court, keep her anxieties at bay, and play the best game of her life but still be uneasy about pressers.

Passion has a way of compelling you to fight your innermost demons while occupational hazards may often do the opposite. The sum total of my restless existence has meant that the tremors in my hands have only intensified. I often find it strange when others get frightened seeing the shivering. Because these tremors are only a fraction of the turbulence in my mind.

Anamika Chatterjee





 
 
 
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