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Anxiety – The Drunken Monkey Syndrome

Recently I read a magazine article where the editor spoke about the “drunken monkey syndrome.”   At first, I thought it was amusing but as I read about her daily issues, I realized it is real and a fallout of the pandemic that affects all of us.  To be sure, it is a catchy way to describe anxiety.

The noise all around us during the pandemic has been deafening.  We have been bombarded by negative news stories for almost a year.  We have endured racial and political uprisings, a stressful election, unrelenting illness, and the economic fallout of a global pandemic.  Our fellow citizens have suffered and many of us have suffered.   Yes, I count my blessings that I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge.  If I need to go somewhere, I get in my car and pull it back in the garage when I return.  I am judicious with spending but can pay my bills and put a small amount in the bank for that rainy day that will hit eventually.  Unfortunately, not everyone is so blessed.  People who are now living in their cars and trucks, or homeless on the streets.  People cannot pay rent and the cars lined up for food distribution are miles long in some cities.  It is a sad day when you are unable to put food on the table for your family or a roof over their heads.   People are struggling and the economic recovery is lagging.  Those lucky enough to have jobs who work from home are also stressed-out teachers to their kids.   There is a lot of noise in our heads.

 

When we lay down at night sometimes our minds have zillions of competing thoughts, one right after another.  This is the drunken monkey syndrome – your mind is like a monkey swinging from one branch in the tree to another with little thought or effort.  Our minds are on overload just as our lives are on overload.  Anxiety over the world we live in leads to competing thoughts trying to figure out what might occur next in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.  We remember the news reports where we listened to people defend their anger and speak of hopelessness competing with those who speak of hope and a new dawning.

 

In my book, One Caregiver’s Journey, I discuss anxiety of loved ones who are faced with health issues or just the thought of daily living with an aging body.  That time seems so far away now and today the pandemic has brought anxiety to all of us in ways that was once foreign.  The drunken monkey has become a natural part of our lives and is far too familiar.   Seeing all the anger in our midst fuels our anxiety and much of it makes no sense.  The notion that conspiracy theories take hold of a person’s mind is in and of itself mindboggling.  The number of guns sold in this country the past year is staggering.  It is a sad day when everyone feels the need to protect themselves from their neighbor.

But we must protect ourselves and our loved ones.

 

So how do we deal with the drunken monkey inside out heads?  We need to relax and know that we can only control what occurs in our lives and cannot control what is happening in the world.  Yes, you can be the change you want to see but change will be slow.  Follow the rules, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, stay out of crowds, and get a vaccine when it is your turn.  It really might seem inconvenient and you might be sick of wearing a mask and you might be craving your friends.  When the person in a grocery store starts an argument about their right to not wear a mask maybe someone should ask if they want to wear a ventilator.  Soon it is our hope to be back living in what we consider a normal world.   Lay the drunken monkey down to recover and relax as this, too, shall pass.

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