Anxiety, Insomnia and Depression: The Neurotic’s Toolbox

The dates are set.  We got a sound man today and the crew is just about complete.  We have a casting notice out for the roles we need to fill.   Production is a mere eight weeks away.  I’m excited.  This is a long time dream.  I’m working everyday to prepare.  And my anxiety levels are rising.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know about my dysthymia, aka neurotic depression.  It’s something I’ve had all my life, but only became aware of about five years ago.  I can feel when it’s kicking in and deal with it.  But it’s always present and I have to be vigilant.  Does it hamper my day to day activities?  Absolutely.  My phone call phobia alone has cost me numerous opportunities.  But, there are ways to make it work for me.

Anxiety produces energy.  When I’m feeling anxious, I can’t sit still.  I pace.  My always fast mind works even faster, achieving incredible speed.  Physically, it’s healthy.  Panic attacks burn calories.  Hyperventilation is great for cardio.  The key is to channel it correctly.  Anxiety often causes people to overeat, smoke, drink and use drugs.  I put the excess energy into my work.

Screenwriting and filmmaking require creative problem solving.  With my mind in hyperdrive, ideas fly out of me.  I throw them out twenty at a time.  Most of them are no good, but that’s okay.  Eventually, the solution comes, and it comes quickly.  Plus, mental anguish and personality disorders are funny!  They are a great boon to any comedy writer.

Another issue I deal with is insomnia.  I haven’t slept through an entire night in months.  I was taking Benedryl.  Two of them generally knock me out within an hour.  But, I didn’t want to get addicted to them and they sometimes aren’t that effective.  I just can’t shut my mind off at night.  So, I don’t.  I just take a series of cat naps throughout the night.  Less sleep time means more work time.  I study films, I write, I make lists of things I need to do the next day.  The feature script I’ve been rewriting, FACADES will be shot in Singapore. The production team is in Asia.  There’s a twelve hour time difference. Perfect!  They email me in the middle of the night, I get the notes, make the revision and it’s done before morning.  Sleep is for suckers.

Tied into my dysthymia is excessive worry.  It makes me cautious.  That can be a very positive attribute.  I check, double check and triple check everything.  I obsess over details.  Exactly what a director needs to do in preparing a film.  There is much less chance of me missing something small when I can’t stop thinking about the little things.

Today’s world can be a very difficult place in which to live.  There are very few of us that don’t have some kind of issues.  They can cripple you if you let them.  But if you can embrace them, realize they are part of what makes you unique and special and turn them to your advantage, you can achieve greatness.   (This post is only slightly tongue in cheek.)


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