Anxiety is a Bother

Anxiety gets in the way of a lot of things.

It makes it hard to get out of bed, to set down at the computer and write even so much as a dumb little blog post. It makes it hard to leave the house, to get chores done. It’s even hard to just sit on the couch and read a book, because why, what’s the point, isn’t there something else you should be doing.

Anxiety makes it hard even when you manage to do these things. I edited for two hours, but what’s the point, there’s so much more to be done. It makes it hard to feel accomplished, and easy to feel frustrated as you fall into that awful spiral of comparing yourself. I look at my to-do list with all of its checked boxes, and I still feel like I haven’t done a thing. I might as well just stand in the shower, or lie on the floor, clutching my stomach.

All those margin doodles…

I’m lucky, though. I have things that have to get done, and an anxiety that is just mild enough that I can do those things at least. I have to walk the dog. I have to buy groceries. I have to make dinner, fold laundry. I have to sit at the desk and pick up a pen, because even if I rip out every sheet of paper I mark, or write just two sentences and fill the rest of the page with swirls and doodles, because going just one day without doing that is worse pain than my anxiety knows how to inflict.

And as I move, my body calms. I can do one more thing, then another. I can go to one more store. I can clean the counter top. I can write one more page, edit one more chapter. It can take days to stop thinking so much on how much I’m failing, how little I’m doing. But I know that this feeling — this awful, bothersome, eternal feeling — isn’t forever, and if I keep pushing through it will fade until I almost (almost) can’t see it anymore. Then I can look back, to meals I’ve made, to piles of read books, to notebooks and journals full of words and ideas, to email chains between me and critique partners, and I can see that I have done something, despite everything inside of my getting in the way.

When Creators I Love Are Piles of Garbage

As I began writing a post about how much I love the new cartoon Clarence — little details like stuck sliding doors, hilarious lines of dialogue — I went to Google to look up some info on the creator, Skyler Page. And what did I find? Links to tumblrs and Twitters revealing that, earlier this week, he’s been publicly accused of sexually harassing female coworkers.

There are enough different animators/story board artists — male and female — attesting to this, so even though there isn’t an official news post confirming this, I believe it. Too many people are risking their hard to get jobs for this to be entirely false. I’m proud of them, and really glad that victims, and their friends, are standing against this. I’m also horrifically pissed.

There’s all the really obvious stuff. That it HAPPENED; that the victims are being accused of making this up, of not providing enough “proof”; that this has been going on for so long and the person responsible doesn’t seem to have faced any repercussions (you know, like LOSING HIS JOB, not getting his OWN SHOW on a big network). But then there’s the selfish part of me, who is so angry that Skyler Page took something I enjoyed away from me.

I have a hard time separating the person that creates from the thing that’s created. How I feel about them as people invariably affects how I feel about what they’ve made. Sometimes this is for the better, like with John Green’s Internet presence making me enjoy his books more, or Natasha Allegri’s hilarious tumblr and Twitter posts. But more often than not, I’m better off not knowing what they are like. An example is finding out, after reading and loving a few of his books, what a homophobic nut job Orson Scott Card is. I’ve gone back and reread Ender’s Game since then, compartmentalizing this real life knowledge, and I still count that as one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read…but it feels weird to enjoy this person’s work. And I went to see the accused-child-rapist Bryan Singer’s new X-Men movie, though thinking about it too hard makes me feel squicky about doing so.

So there’s a new episode of Clarence on tonight. Will I watch it? Yes. Will I enjoy it? Possibly. There are other people, presumably good and talented people, who write the jokes, draw the pictures, make their living off this show. But the thought will be constantly in my head, who the creator is, what he’s done. There will be guilt. I might not be able to laugh. I certainly won’t love it like I have been doing for the past couple of months. Again, I’m so glad these women and their friends are speaking up, and none of my anger or annoyance goes toward them, not a drop. They get my love and sympathy and pride in their bravery. All the dark feelings, the ones that are making my stomach twist and have had me swearing out loud in the hour since I found this out, those are for the man who caused this, who hurt people and managed to destroy a few ounces of joy.



EDIT Pleasant news, apparently Skyler Page has little to nothing to do with the actual creation/writing of Clarence: Maybe they can boot him and the show will still be good and I won’t feel weird about watching it.