“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

Friedrich Nietzsche


When I’m at the bottom looking up, the main question may not be ‘how do I get out of this hole?’ In reality, the main question might be ‘how do I get rid of the shovel that I used to dig it?”

Craig D. Lounsbrough


Everyone is different and I imagine while we all feel a sense of anxiety at times, we all manage it a bit differently because, well, everyone is different. Sometimes that difference is discernible to the naked eye and sometimes not. And therein lies the beginning of holes and anxiety. Unfortunately, sometimes being different seems to put you in some hole where you appear to live where no one else lives. Oddly enough if you can get out of the hole you would simply see that almost everyone has their own hole that Life makes you climb in and out of on occasion. That said. Anxiety is a bit different. The anxiety hole is extremely personal and not really comparable to other peoples’. While other mental disorders kind of squeeze you, anxiety simultaneously rips you apart and squeezes you. That double whammy makes it almost like a game of mental whack-a-mole. And that is where anxiety intersects with all other mental holes – inevitably Life puts you in your hole and leaves you there … alone … with your thoughts. There is no wondering about how you are different than other people or why other people can see the world differently than you; it is just you against the world. Uhm. And Life doesn’t help you get out of the hole. Because it is yours. And it is yours to figure out how to get out of.

Stay in the hole long enough and, yes, it begins to look like an abyss. A never-ending abyss leading to some sort of personal hell. Its kind of a hell in which even if you figure out a way out of the hole you don’t really learn a whole shitload about how to get out of the next hole (which will inevitably arise).

But that assumes you get out of the frickin’ abyss. That’s the thing about anxiety, it’s tricky. Anxiety blinds you from seeing how you got out of the darkness before. Its like you are drowning and have to relearn how to swim every time.

All of this reminds me of a West Wing tv show episode, Noël, where Leo tells Josh the following story:

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.

“A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

    “Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on

    “Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”

People need help getting out of holes, especially the anxiety hole. The issue is when you are in an anxiety hole there is no ‘center’, there is no gravity, and sometimes there isn’t even a mental lily pad to even begin ending the drowning in the anxiety hole.

Anxiety holes are sometimes some big deep frickin’ holes with no walls.

Look. Holes are fine in Life. They are part of Life.  But you have to know how to get out of them.

Which leads me to “nothing remains but certain shreds of the wall.”

“Of these houses

Nothing remains

But certain

shreds of the wall.


Of so many

Who were close to me

Nothing is left

Not even that.


Of my heart

No room still stands

Where it lies

In the most tortured village.”

Giuseppe Ungaretti

The anxiety hole is about emptiness.  A lack of … well … anything to hold on to and sometimes it is a lack of anything discernible. It is just a dark swirling hole of anxiety and angst.

its just emptiness. It is some space in which nothing exists. A black hole of emotions and feelings.

How can this be? The walls surrounding that which was are gone. Simply shreds remaining. And not even walls remain of those ‘who were.’ There is just empty space; nothing to hold any feelings inside.

Maybe it is because I believe what I just wrote that I have always struggled when people give advice that suggests you should accept and deal with it. Because I sense there is nothing to embrace. There is nothing to face.

No walls remain.

No rooms are still standing.

So, you are a bit speechless and, in fact, helpful thoughts most likely remain silent in anxiety.

No walls remain.

No rooms still standing.

Their hearts standing alone in a tortured village.

Silent because we can only ask them to speak of emptiness. To explain a dark black hole of nothingness.



Note: depression causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and reduced energy. Anxiety creates feelings of nervousness, worry, or dread. Although the two conditions are different, you can have both at the same time. Agitation and restlessness can be symptoms of both depression and anxiety.

Written by Bruce