Something inside of me is rapidly metastasizing like a horrific cancer. I imagine the neurotransmitters spliced within my brain are overflowing with a bath of tantalizing chemicals. My hands begin to shake, not softly trembling as if I were startled, but instead mimicking the legs of a convulsing epileptic. It’s difficult to look at the print on the computer screen; could it be that the myopia seething on the insides of my eyeball, has finally progressed from hours of staring scrunchy eyed at the laptop screen to an immature macular degeneration? This can’t be happening. Displaced on the chair cushion, I stand up and walk to my bedroom. My stomach feels herniated and distended, and my forehead is wracked with such pain that I can only label it as something comparable to a screw drilled beneath my skull.
Now that I’ve barely made it there without collapsing and curling on the floor in agony, I glance at the window straight in front of me. Sunlight, thick like a spoon of honey, cascades through the extended curtains, glistening and temporarily blinding me. For an indiscernible reason, my hands are still twitching sporadically when I raise them, and I can’t help but wonder why has my stomach been so disagreeable lately. Too much to deal with even in my own bedroom, as if I were disappointed that as soon as I entered, my brain didn’t leech open from the cuticles of my skin. I turn around, blinking a little, slightly relieved that my panoply of eye nerves are settled. Perhaps going back on the internet will also temporarily resolve my fantasy of freeing from an anxious, mortal body. But the moment I sit down at the kitchen table, it happens again. This time my stomach rumbles, and I expect to rush to the bathroom soon despite being abjectly afraid of becoming ill.
Frustrated, I press the button and type in the password situated on the keys. I frown, desperately trying to not pay attention to my stomach, because apparently the digestive burbles foreshadow a soul-sucking, gastrointestinal illness. Watching funny videos to lighten up and laugh a little has an instant gratification, so I think as I contemplate what to search. But so does a greasy burger as a short-lived, hedonistic indulgence. Next, I begin to toil with rage. I have wasted approximately twelve hours from when I woke up into now, in the evening, researching mind-numbing key phrases like celebrity news and TV show updates which secure just carcasses in the pursuit of my own happiness. What is actually debilitating me? Then I remembered how my psychiatrist mentioned something about me being diagnosed with a distinct health anxiety known as hypochondria at a meeting recently. So, I sat up with an awkward glee, put on my glasses, researched hypochondria with a nimble Google search, and discovered that hypochondria is, according to Wikipedia, the first result, a somatoform disorder, meaning mental distress produces symptoms suggesting one has a physical illness. Relaxing, I suppose.
But how could this hypochondria of mine unleash a concoction of cramping, restless hands, and declining vision practically synonymous with an antibiotic resistant bug? And how could I be satisfied with the error-producing body I had? I was caught and tangled, out of breath. The internet, no matter how tightly clustered with constellations of information, isn’t likely to solve this predicament. Right at this time, I press the button off, fold the laptop, stand up, and plop on the couch behind the kitchen table in the living room, gently gesturing and clasping a book in my hand. My fingers smooth its hardcover, yellow cover and open the jacket page. The author has a nonchalant smile attached to a pasty face.
I wonder if he was actually in a pleasant mood, or masked his anxious disposition with charismatic grace. As I read, although I have already read this book multiple times, I mellow out and begin to recall his ample caricatures of a variety mental conditions with each flip of the page. And when I discover his journalism positions, and momentary success in writing, hurtling past his traumatizing and severe episodes of anxiety as a child, I feel gratified and inspired. Perhaps this is a harbinger enlightening me of my own possible achievements in the future? A little probe further, and I am notified more in-depth of his apparent nervous stomach, blurred vision, and lack of stillness all due to his debilitating anxiety. I place the book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind back on the table as gingerly as I reached it, and stand up and walk with a little bounce in my step to my bedroom, while my parents remain with their attention devoured to the television.
As I enter the room once more, I glance outside the window. The sunlight is less bright, but still warm and welcoming. Then something unexplainable happened: I started twirling and spinning, despite reeling from digestive distress, nervous hands, and poor vision. At that moment, the author, Scott Stossel, gave me the strength to feel free. If it was possible he was able to convert or somaticize his mental conditions into real, physical symptoms, then must I too possess the ability? And yet, if he was able to accept his unfortunate makeup, and conduct tangible successes in his life, then why not I? I stop and pause, peering through the window. There’s a bend of road and a grassy hill. Curious, I think of investigating. But I am then conflicted by the barricades of separation anxiety, and I recall that he once was, and still struggles with it to a degree to this day too. But I am beginning to construct something special. And that’s a good sign, since my stomach feels a little better too,