My Age of Anxiety – … and footnotes. Lots of footnotes!

“It is a fact—I say this from experience—that being severely anxious is depressing. Anxiety can impede your relationships, impair your performance, constrict your life, and limit your possibilities.” ― Scott Stossel

My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel surprised me.

First, it has those cut pages I adore… which are usually saved for small, intimate books you salivate and ruminate over. Well, maybe you don’t salivate and ruminate… but I do! Do you know the kind I mean? Those gift-y little books you give to a close friend on the occasion of her 50th birthday filled with quotes or poetry. You know, right?

Second, it isn’t small or gifty, despite the pretty pages. It’s hefty! My hardback has almost 400 pages, for goodness sake! Or is that sakes, with an s? Ugh. I have neither the desire nor the time to go check. Why? Because I’m writing late today. Why? Because we had a water heater installed. Why? Because we had this issue with hot water. For months! Like, we both couldn’t shower in the morning or else one would be showering in cold water. Bath water would cease being hot when the bath was only half-filled. Ew. Ucky. Blech.

The water heater exchange was supposed to be done three months ago but one thing after another kept happening… some (most?) out of our control. Finally, the day had come. Today! My husband talked to the landlord this morning and said, “We’ll see you between noon and 2pm,” to which the landlord answered, “Didn’t they call you yesterday?” Uh, no, they did not. You could have, right? Thanks so much.

So, we find out it could be anytime between noon and 4pm. Good thing my husband took the day off.

Oh, I had it off, too, but I’m not good with strangers in the house when I’m alone, especially with one escape artist named Hannah itching to get out any time the front door opens (this little peanut is the culpritIMG_0949 and yes, she thinks she’s human.)

Also, because I’m so anxious, I tend to overcompensate by talking too much, offering full meals and/or generous tips I can’t afford to service folk who enter.

And we’re back around to the subject of this book: Anxiety.

Part memoir, part history lesson and tons of footnotes… that’s how I’d describe this book. Well, that, and so much more!

Stossel’s personal stories sound familiar to anyone who suffers… the history is fascinating (if not overwhelming, along with those darned footnotes) and the overall feeling is one of hopeful anticipation of whatever will come at the end (of the book, I mean. Not life. This is not that kind of book!).

It’s excellent but I’ll be my usual honest self in saying that I skimmed some of it because it got so… wordy. This is nothing against the author … it’s not him, it’s me. My ADHD and well, anxiety, get in the way sometimes. To be clear, Stossel is an **excellent** writer (and I don’t think I’ve ever double-asterick’d a word in this blog, so you know I mean business). Any and all facets of anxiety and the myriad fixes we’ve all tried are covered here. It is extensive and exhaustive.

Stossel saw his first psychiatrist before he was a teenager. That’s years and years before I knew of my own anxiety (or depression) diagnosis. You’d think that’d give him an upper hand. Not really. It gave him a head-start, though. Lots of trial and error! For instance, he’s been on at least three times as many medications as I have… not all at the same time, of course!

I appreciate what the book jacket says: Stossel vividly depicts anxiety’s human toll—its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze. He also explores how individual sufferers—including himself—have managed and controlled symptoms. 

That’s it, exactly! You could type “anxiety” in the search box of this blog and find out all the days and ways I’ve dealt with it, too. It’s a never-ending quest to manage and control.

Does Stossel find the answers he’s (we’re all) seeking? I hope he does. It’s really not clear. His final words are about the fear and shame that surround so much of anxiety. I’d say he has more understanding… and perhaps that’s the best that any of us might hope for.

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2 comments

  1. I got this book too, several years ago, after seeing the author interviewed on TV. In the interview, I found Scott Stossel to be very funny, endearing, and painfully honest, and a real inspiration to those of us who suffer from extreme anxiety. The book I found to be a bit of a disappointment because it was not easy reading, for the same reasons you articulated. It is very wordy and intense and a bit exhausting to read. I skimmed through it as well. Still a good story though

    Liked by 1 person

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