The Fear of Current Events

by Bill Brenner on May 11, 2010

Digging through storage boxes the other day, I found old, 20-plus-year-old copies of Time Magazine, Newsweek, Mother Jones and a host of others. There had to be four years of them, well over 200 volumes.

And so I was reminded — again — of all the fear I used to carry around.

As I’ve written before, fear and anxiety were byproducts of my particular brand of OCD, just like my addictions were a byproduct.

The fear meant a lot of things. Working myself into a stupor over the safety of my wife and children. An obsession with cleanliness, which was interesting since depression always meant my personal hygiene took a dive.

It also meant a fear of world events. When that Nostradamus movie “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow” came out on HBO in the early 1980s, I was terrified by the “future” scenes, especially the one where New York and Paris are destroyed in nuclear attacks.

Later, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, I thought the scene from above was playing out and it left me in a huge depression, one where I stayed in my basement with the lights off.

Similar emotions took hold on Sept. 11, 2001. Of course, those emotions took hold on everyone that day.

Most recently, in 2005, I had a long panic streak over the bird flu in Asia, which was predicted to be the next great pandemic, as deadly as the one in 1918-19.

I would read every magazine and every website tracking all these world events as if my personal safety depended on it. If a hurricane was spinning in the Atlantic, I would watch with deepening worry as it edged closer to the U.S.

When did all this stop? It’s hard to pin an exact date or year on it.

I only know it stopped.

One day the anxiety attacks stopped. Then I started to crave all the experiences I once feared. Not the terror attacks, plane crashes and pandemics, mind you, but the traveling, the public speaking and more intensified writing. One day I started craving those things with the same vigor with which I craved all the junk I polluted myself with.

Therapy — years of it — and Prozac definitely played a role. So did my deepening Faith.

Whatever it was, I’m glad it happened.

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