Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2014/ Alone, Lonely, Anxious


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Alone, Lonely, Anxious

I am at work. I have been at work for several hours now, but I have not actually done any work. For the past couple of weeks I have gotten little to nothing done. Maybe I can blame the hockey playoffs (yes, I got sucked in by the Canadiens' run). Maybe I can blame the election (yes, I have been sucked in by that as well). Mostly, I think I can blame ennui and anxiety. I have all the signs of hurtling straight towards a mid-life crisis, and it is not pretty. I cannot imagine this job lasting too much longer. In reality, I should have quit last year. I feel as if I am just collecting paycheques, and I am just collecting paycheques to hand over to the dentist.

I may blog about high-faluting things like podcasts and election campaigns, but in reality my current obsessions are much less constructive and much more repetitive.


For one thing, my hypochondria is off the charts. I wrote earlier about anxiety about getting a sunburn. This week I discovered a small brown spot on my nose which is probably not melanoma, but which I cannot stop thinking about. The right thing to do is wait three weeks to see whether the brown spot grows; instead my mind spins and spins and spins.

There is no question that my body is breaking down. My teeth and my knees and my skin: I have written about all of this before, and it is boring. I am not aging gracefully, because I do not feel that life is inherently worth living, and I am pretty convinced that I should make my exit as soon as things get sufficiently bad. Maybe skin cancer is sufficiently bad. I am pretty sure my diabetes diagnosis will be.

It does not help that I have been exposed to many sad situations lately. Eric Meyer's five-year-old daughter has brain cancer, and there is little hope for a cure. Somebody I know had to put her sick dog down last week. A coworker's husband died of cancer at age 27. Maybe in some ways these are tragedies, but in some ways I feel numb about them. None of us escapes sickness or death.

Some people escape old age, but many of us don't, and all around me I see people I like getting older and suffering the indignities of old age. I feel a great deal of anxiety when I think about the strong people in my life, people I depend upon, getting old and frail and losing their faculties. I see people struggling with memory loss, with diabetes, with harsh dietary restrictions, and I cannot help but think that I do not want to go through any of that.

The overriding lesson here is that Dan Savage is wrong: it doesn't get better, at least healthwise. I cannot expect my health to be as good as it was ever again, and I can expect more medical problems and more chronic pain. Is it any wonder that I feel some anxiety and hypochondria?

Anxiety feels different than depression for me. I am not willing to take pills to make the depression go away. I feel that the depression is central to what I am. Anxiety feels like a wholly unhelpful bother. But even though my immediate anxieties might be irrational (stay tuned for the upcoming blog post when I reveal I have been diagnosed with cancer) I cannot say that those anxieties will not eventually come to pass.

I am anxious about things other than my health. I continue to be anxious about global climate instability, about the ponzi scheme that is our economy, about my inability to save money for the future, of running out of money and being poor, of the Calamity. But right now my health anxieties are foremost.


I spend almost all my time alone. I never had been good at social interaction, and my introversion made things worse, but I am not sure that I have ever been as alone as I am now. I go to work and spend at most three hours a day interacting with others, and then an additional 12-15 hours a day sitting by myself, mostly reading blogs and not getting work done.

I live with a bunch of people with whom I should find conversations easy, but in practice we rarely exchange 10 words a week. I know that I come across as aloof and isolated. I do not know how to break the ice, and at this point in my tenancy I do not think I will be able to. I am not even sure that I want to.

My default assumption is that my presence is unwelcome, and that others are happier not interacting with me than interacting with me. So I try not to intrude on the interactions with others.

And in some ways maybe I am aloof. Human interactions are confusing and complicated. People come with problems and drama. It is simpler being alone. Every time I make a human connection there is a price to be paid. Being alone means I can set my own agenda. For the most part, I can do what I want without compromise. I like that. I do not want to deal with the messiness of human interactions, except when I do.

Because I have podcasts and blogs I am rarely bored. But they do not leave me fulfilled, either. I do not know that I am spending too much time alone -- most of the time I do not mind it, and who am I to demand others spend time with me? -- but sometimes it feels that way.


On the other hand, my sense of loneliness is overwhelming me these days. I have chosen to be alone and I guess I have to live with that choice, but I crave companionship and touch.

Gardening used to provide some fulfillment of my desire for companionship. At our communist garden I could babble at people, which would provide just enough interaction to recharge my batteries. But this year I am gardening less (because sun anxiety) and I am often gardening alone.

Lately I have been skipping work early and going to "Gayme Night" at Spectrum, the local LGBT centre. In some ways that has been fulfulling; the other participants there have tolerated my presence, which is pretty much all I can ask for. Although I have spent some time with other LGBT people, I have rarely done so where those statuses are acknowledged, and it definitely feels different being in a room where other people have similar sexual orientations to mine. So going to Gayme Nights (and our Lazy Queer Reading Circles) has helped me find at least a little human interaction.

But I am not touched, and I have been celibate for 14 years now, and although both of those things are probably necessary I am not appreciating them much.

Today I had the immense good fortune of unexpectedly running into pretty ladies on two separate occasions, and then having the better fortune of spending some time in each of these ladies's company for a while. I like both of these women. After our interactions I should have felt fulfillment and joy. Instead I felt more depressed. As far as I know, neither of these ladies are in the market for a sex partner, and I am pretty confident that neither of them has any sexual interest in me. So complimenting them on their attractiveness is out of bounds, and hitting on them is major misconduct. I do not want them to think that the only reason I enjoy their company is because I want to get into their pants, and I do not want them to feel uncomfortable in their presences. To the degree I am being dishonest around them, it is a necessary dishonesty. But it takes its toll. And then there is the anxiety that I really am just trying to play the Nice Guy in the hopes of getting sex, which makes me feel worse for feeling sad after our interactions.

If I was sufficiently motivated I could probably find a sex partner. If nothing else, I could pay money or drugs for sex, thus disqualifying me from giving blood. I might even be able to find a sex partner without disqualifying myself from giving blood -- maybe I could wear a paper bag over my head. All of that takes work and energy I do not feel up to right now. Really, I just want a suitable, non-crazy sex partner to fall into my lap (so to speak). That is pretty damn unlikely to happen.

I do not know how much I care about blood eligibility anymore. Already I have been deferred once because of my bad tooth; as medical problems build up there is little question that I will be disqualified sooner or later. Maybe it makes sense to take a stand and disqualify myself preemptively.

Or maybe not, because as I have written before sex is not going to solve the problem. Even if I get a sex partner I doubt I will feel any less alone, because the problem is me, not the external world. That does not address the loneliness, however. I doubt even having a touch partner would alleviate the loneliness.

So I get to remain stuck for a while. Maybe something will blow up. Maybe I will have a legitimate health crisis. Maybe I will come to some kind of actual decision. Or maybe I will just continue coasting along in my state of quiet(ish) desperation, feeling as if there is less and less that is worth living for.