Breaking Anxious

The television series Breaking Bad is in some ways a prolonged and excruciating study in the art of concealing evidence, along with the ways that a once good man (Walt White) finds that no matter how smart he is (and he is very smart) there always seems to be some little detail he has forgotten to erase his trail of bad deeds. The details of his story are largely irrelevant. Yes, it’s all very melodramatic, he gets diagnosed with cancer, uses his chemistry skills to synthesize high grade methamphetamine so he can make millions to support his young family after he dies. All the gruesome intrigue this leads him into is a minor concern to me, minor, that is, besides the curious study the series provides us of a man tormented by the worries of leaving no footprint of his criminal path left to be traced.

He fails time and again. Naturally. It is hard to erase all traces of a particular history, even if it is a secret life, particularly when that secret life is about half of one’s daily time.

Why Walter White worries is due to the illegality of his secret drug lord life. He has tremendous cause for anxiety. Yet he remains throughout fairly astute and smart. It is always little details that escape him, and yet he does a great job of erasing most of the details of his nefarious activities.


(Truth be told: I was a bit anxious writing this post, since I do not like writing or even thinking about drugs and the violence that is associated with illegal drugs. So much so that I often wonder if it came to a citizens referendum I might end up signing along with folks who wish to legalize narcotics and hallucinogens, simply because if they are legal and regulated then most of the violence would disappear, and society would only have to then deal with the side-effects of the loser junkies who indulge and create danger for themselves and those near them. A lot less worse than the violence created by making drugs illegal (e.g., the black markets which have evolved as a result). Yep, I think I would vote for legalization, provided studies and evidence can show the black markets would dissolve away.)

So what about you or me, the otherwise normal people, living with anxiety and panic disorders? Why do we worry so much and torment ourselves? Hopefully you do not suffer from anxiety or depression. But for those who do, then you might know what I’m talking about. Someone entirely normal, who has an outwardly good life, surrounded by good friends, can yet feel anxious and in utter panic at the weight of the word pressing upon them. Everyone feels this way at isolated moments. But most of the time they will think little of these micro-panic attacks. A few people however cannot ever escape this panic. It presses upon them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And it seems it will never stop. suicide often seems the only “cure”, the only escape route.

This is the difference between a healthy person and a person suffering from chronic anxiety or old-fashioned neurosis. Healthy people feel the same symptoms, but they only last a minute or so. They may even feel panic once or twice every day. They continue functioning “normally”, or whatever normal is defined by in their life. The mentally ill person, on the other hand, will never be free of the panic, and they must learn to live with it, keep it suppressed, or find other outlets, or use drugs or other interventions, or simply suffer and be unable to function like a normal healthy person, or, in some rare cases, they will make the payment of the ultimate price for getting rid of this condition.

A Great White Cope

If you do suffer from acute chronic anxiety then here is one possible way to cope. I really do not know of a sure fire coping mechanism. I just happened to think of this while watching the beginning of the fifth season of Breaking Bad. it’s merely a variation of “think of how worse off other are”. It’s probably mostly junk advice, but here it is for what it’s worth.

Think of people who live like the fictional Walter White. Such people do exist, believe me. They have real cause for anxiety. They create their own anxiety. You, or I, on the other hand, are imagining anxiety from sources of fairly normal living conditions. Our suffering is no less real, but we are letting ordinary life events expand needlessly into mammoth sources of worry or discomfort. Not sure about you, but sometimes I just cannot help it. Negative thoughts sometimes seem to creep into my mind, they swirl around, and expand, and eventually become so suffocating I can hardly think of what could make them vanish other than death. Yeah, it gets that heavy, pretty easily and pretty quickly. And from what? Just normal worries. Normal worries.

When this happens to you, maybe just try to recall this idea: that at least your worries are not about drugs or covering up a murder or having to find millions of dollars in savings for your family’s future (well, hopefully not that one). Your anxieties probably have far gentler causes, and are therefore, you might at least hope, controllable. Once the immediate severe panic subsides, just resolve to do something little towards relieving the pressures surrounding yourself. Pay some friend a visit, or invite a friend around for a tea or coffee. Or just hunker down and read a nice book. If your normal work is not too onerous, then dive into it with more zeal and lose yourself in it for a while, or lose yourself in some other task, like gardening. Hell, even if it’s just pulling weeds out of the lawn. It’s hard to stuff up a job like that. Go for a long walk, have an exercise workout, or whatever gets your blood pumping without any stress.

The key is to put aside your worries for just a while, maybe even a whole day. Since you are not involved in the drug underworld, nothing will collapse or fatally harm you if you take some time aside to be kind to yourself. If this makes you feel selfish then don’t do it for yourself, find a friend to enjoy a day with, make it about giving them a good time. Besides, looking after yourself can always be thought of as looking after others, since how are you going to be a happy and positive influence on others if you are moody and anxious and depressed all the time. So you owe it to others to look after yourself and be happier and more spirited.

Haven’t got any good books around? Good excuse to go and find one at the library. Librarians are great people for recommending a good read. Or your favourite bookshop, if any exists in your town or city, one of the staff there will know a few great books to read. If you are really tired and down, to low to even read, then try a DVD, the same people will also know a few great movies.

You know what I mean. There is some safe pace or activity for you. There has to be or you’d likely be dead by now. You probably go to it unconsciously. It might not be a physical place, it could be somewhere in your mind. If you are strung out and anxious beyond belief then go to that place. The world will still be pretty much as you left it when you return. Which could perhaps be a depressing thought. But so what? Only difference is you might be calmer and a little happier and will thus be easier for people around you to cope with.

Watching Breaking Bad was hard for me. The story was addictive viewing, but I found it hard to stomach. There’s just no way to relate to the fictional Mr White. But it was good to think that in this world some people really have crazy huge worries and bring it all upon themselves. I bring my worries upon myself too, and they are crazy, but they are no where near as huge.

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