Constant worrying is making me anxious

By Paul Lester, January 20, 2011

You may have already noticed, but I am what you might call an anxious person. I was going to say unduly anxious, but what I really mean is "Jew-ly" anxious, given that anxiety is almost a precondition of the religion.

It's nothing new - I've probably suffered from a deep-seated disquiet for about, ooh, (counts aloud using fingers of left hand)… 30 years? Yup, for three decades now I've been driving friends and family to distraction with my constant worrying about my health.

And when I run out of imaginary physical ailments I usually fill the terror void by being gripped with panic about the state of the world, afraid that we're sliding inexorably towards the abyss, with my own personal oblivion particularly high on my list of priorities. Remember the Libyan crisis of 1986? I thought the apocalypse was coming and nuclear bombs were going to be raining down on Borehamwood.

But that was almost a zen moment compared to the flap I got into during the first Gulf War. By 9/11 I was that man walking down Oxford Street wearing a sandwich board bearing the warning: "The End Of The World Is Nigh."

Now, of course, I've got three children, and my concern for their well-being has added severalfold to the sum of my phobias. These can range from the global to the seemingly trivial.

If you're going to be nervous, this, it strikes me, is the ideal moment!

Over the Christmas/Chanucah period, for example, the kids and I all somehow acquired a variety of shiny gadgets - I say "somehow" as though it was a mysterious process featuring men in red suits and white beards when really it involved me walking into the Apple store in Brent Cross with a debit card.

And now I'm worried that we've acquired a new syndrome, whereby we're only able to communicate with each other via electronic devices prefixed by the letter "i". You know that Mel Brooks film, High Anxiety? This is iAnxiety.

If you're going to be nervous, this, it strikes me, is the ideal moment. I've always had a fear of death - or what I like to call "neurosis of the shivah" - but it seems to have increased, if anything, since my dad passed away in August.

Factor in the environmental disasters happening across the planet, and the fact that you can't walk the streets of London because students have dramatically transformed seemingly overnight from benign hippies to marauding, rioting anarchists, not to mention the imminent End Of Days predicted by the ancient Mayan civilization for the year 2012, and you've got one nervous Jew right here.

My general anxiety (it's one step down, in military terms, from Major Dementia) is practically reaching Code Red.

The worst thing is, I actually love discussing all this stuff - I've got emotional Tourette's.

If someone asks me how I'm feeling, I tell them. In exhaustive, gory detail. If I'm feeling OK, that's what I say.

If, on the other hand, my wife has just left me for the builder and I'm sleeping on the floor of my office surrounded by cat fur and I'm contemplating taking an overdose of matzah brei, I tell them that, too. A simple, polite "how are you?" can lead to a torrent of intimate revelations that most people just haven't got the time or the inclination to absorb.

You know that phrase "too much information" that has recently entered popular usage? That was invented by a former acquaintance who I bumped into during my divorce outside Edgware Station. Put it this way: he was a week late for dinner.

So anyway, the upshot of all this is, I am considering going to see a hypnotherapist, a) because I need to seriously chill out, and b) because there is a clinic 50 yards from my house and getting there on time won't add to my woes.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, join me if you will next month, to find out whether I discovered a cure for terminal hypertension, or if I pushed the poor hypnotherapist over the edge.

Last updated: 10:43am, January 20 2011