For years — and I mean years — I struggled with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. Dealing with depression is one thing, but piling anxiety on top of that makes life unbearable. My anxiety makes me high-strung, nervous, and uncomfortable; my depression makes me tired, unmotivated, and lethargic. I take medication for both, but beyond that, I’ve learned a coping mechanism more effective than anything pharmaceutical: I’ve simply stopped caring.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I care about (obviously), but the aspects of my life for which I hold the most value are also the aspects of my life over which I have some semblance of control or influence. Beyond that, I simply don’t have the energy to care anymore. Perhaps that may be perceived by some as apathy, but for me, it’s just a way of getting through my daily life.
Here’s the thing: I can’t vote. Therefore, anything regarding politics or legislation is merely beyond my scope of give-a-damn. I have absolutely no input into who the president will be or who the governor will be or what laws will be passed or anything. So, for me, I simply don’t care. Besides, as I’ve written before, I don’t consider myself an American. And as such, stressing about things like who the next president will be or what new ordinances will be enacted is merely pointless. The best I can do, for my own sake of sanity, is to go with the flow.
Additionally, there is an array of social/political issues for which I hold no opinion as well, either because I have no ability to influence them or because they simply have no impact on my life directly. The issue I take the most flack for not taking a stance on is Abortion. For some reason, many (if not most) people think you’re either Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. But I’m neither. I simply have no opinion because Abortion is not a topic that has any impact on my personal or professional or moral life. Do I think Abortion should be legal? I don’t care. Do I think Abortion should be illegal? I don’t care. Of course, skeptics can pose all the “what-if” scenarios they want, but I prefer not to hang my life on an endless series of improbabilities.
For me, most issues are like that — issues over which I have no influence or issues that have no impact on me. And I think that’s one of the things which causes many people to have some unwanted irritation, aggravation, or even anxiety: people stress about things that they can’t change and/or have no impact over them. Personally, my hands are full enough with keeping my own life in line; I can’t worry about the lives and choices of other people who, even if they made the choice I thought they should make, would have no impact on my life directly.
It’s like standing at the window, watching the rain, and shouting at the clouds.
Granted, there are aspects I struggle with, most notably, the past. I still stress about the past. I still stress about the choices I made that ruined my life. As much as I try, I can’t shake the remorse, I can’t shake the regret. 90% of my depression and anxiety is not caused by my life now, but rather, by the thought of what my life could have been — should have been — if I hadn’t ruined everything. After years of therapy and an array of antidepressants and antianxiety meds, I still cannot separate myself from the fact that my choices when 30-years-old have ruined every day since; my choices when I was 30-years-old have had a negative impact on my wife and my daughter, both of whom deserve a life exceedingly better than the one I am now able to provide — a life that exists in the dark shadow of my past. This is root of my depression and anxiety.
Consequently, if I added more anxiety to it by stressing about things I had no ability to change, I would be eternally miserable. I suppose it is rooted in the first part of The Serentity Prayer: “God, please help me to accept the things I cannot change…” Makes sense. I cannot change things over which I have no influence.
Then again, I can’t change the past, and I stress about that all the time when I think about the life I should be living right now.
William Shakespeare wrote, “The evil men do lives after them…”