Dave's Progress. Chapter 2: Status Anxiety and Me.

First of all, I have to thank all of you who commented on my last blog. The comments were all extremely positive and really gave me a lift. It reminded me that I can be more positive about the issues which are facing me and, indeed, should always be grateful for the support I've had through mindbloggling.
So, I am going to start with something positive. This blog will only descend into gut-wrenching negativity later on. Only joking. So, what is this positive thing, you all ask? Well, I have managed to actually lose some weight. If my scales are right it is in the region of around 6lbs. I don't exactly know what I've done to lose this weight, my life-style has hardly dramatically changed, but there it is. Needless to say I am now a little more encouraged that it can actually be done and the weight, if I do it right, may eventually come off. We are looking a long time ahead in the future for that, but it is a goal I now feel I can actually do something about, instead of feeling that this was a situation which may never change.
But, what about the title of this blog. Well, I'm afraid here is where some of that negativity comes in. I am going to write about it though because I think it is something, as sufferers of mental distress, we have perhaps all felt a tinge of, and that is that peculiarly 21st century feeling of status anxiety. That feeling of - why don't I have a car like that guy's? where's my perfect wife and children? why don't I have a more substantial job, I am 36 after all? why aren't I building my own property abroad with the millions I've saved? In fact, I don't think you can put on a programme after 8 o'clock on channel 4 without seeing some life-style programme which is bound to make you jealous. Things like "A Place in the Sun" or "Property Ladder" or "Grand Designs" all make me feel somewhat inadequate with my beleagered little bungalow in Stoke. But sometimes it goes even deeper than that. It's not just material things, but who I actually am.
So here comes the point where I have to mention him. Yes, him. He who is my nemesis. He who shouts and swears and is all alpha-male bombast. He who is a millionaire and one of the greatest chefs in the world. Yes, him. Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay is slim, handsome, unbelievably rich, talented, has a beautiful wife and children and many famous friends. As I watch him shout at lesser men, my own sense of cowed, emasculated masculinity goes and runs for shelter. And then, after making grown men cry, they all, almost without fail, praise the man for bullying them to death and making them realise what a failure they were until he came along. He is indeed quite a guy. So, I am unbelievably envious of him. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is not only wrong but sinful.
And, in all seriousness, this does have some bearing on mental health. The psychiatrist Oliver James has stated in his latest book that one of the reasons for our chronic unhappiness in the West, or, for that matter, more serious mental health problems, can be put down to such never ending status anxiety where there is always someone fitter, brighter or more wealthy than you are. He calls this seemingly contagious phenomena "affluenza".
So, I am not merely clutching at straws here when I say that my own unhappiness, when it is aroused, is largely due to feelings of inadequacy in terms of status.
But, I did start this blog on a positive note, so I am going to end on one. I may not be as famous or handsome or thin as Gordon Ramsay, but when I look at the comments left on my blog, or I see some of my friends at magmh, I can decidedly say my heart feels a little lighter. Perhaps Shakespeare said it best- "When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,/I all alone beweep my outcast state.../yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,/ Haply I think on thee, and then my state,/ Like to the lark at break of day arising/ From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;/ For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings/ That then I scorn to chnge my state with kings."
Keep it here for more Dave's Progress next time. That's all from your normal,average paranoid and delusional man.


klahanie said…
Greetings David,
Ah the old 'keeping up with the Jones's' competition or 'my car is bigger than your car. People out-ratting each other in the 'rat race'.
Dave, I use to be a part of that game. I had a good life, monetarily speaking. I had the four bedroom house, two cars, one cat, one dog and oh yeah..a beautiful wife.
Then I got ill and lost it all. However Dave, I am older than you and for awhile there I panicked over all I had lost. Then I somehow started becoming philisophical about my life. To heck with the contest. I don't have much in the way of material goods anymore but I have discovered a new appreciation for the simple pleasures in life. (to heck with that, give me loads of money! lol)
Seriously Dave, well done on your progress. Your 'status' with me is the status of your decent humanity. I cheer you on Dave. I thank you kindly for your comments on my naked (perish the thought) blog. We are all in this together.
We often seem to focus on the negative especially when it comes to our bodies. We are the best at talking ourselves down- those little internal demons are so critical. So in a bit to help end this and give you motivation to talk nicer to yourself, here are a few starting points of things nobody should go without hearing….Less is not more/ walk away slowly so that people can enjoy the view/ I will love my flaws, if not for me then for my family and if you re hungry…eat. Most importantly, remember to say ‘well done’ to yourself. Take care

sunseeker said…
Hello David

Congratulations on your achievement - it is good to have goals that you feel confident that you can actually do something about.

I think that we can all associate with what you say about stauts anxiety. It's easy to get dragged into the cycle of what you have in your life being about other people's perceptions rather than our own.

If I may share with you a recent example in my life:
Someone who I considered to be a good friend felt that need to tell me (he was a little drunk at the time, but...) that it was "really about time you bought yourself something resembling a decent house".

Many days of anxiety and inner debate followed this statement. I had always felt that my typical 3 bed semi family home was more than adequate for my families needs, but obviously my friends felt that I was not good enough.

So, eventually, I came to what seems to be a very obvious conclusion - that it was high time I got myself "something resembling decent friends"...

Take very good care David - as you rightly acknowledge, you have things in your life far more valuable than any percieved status symbol - and Gordon Ramsey may seem to have it all, but have seem how bad his wrinkles are... ;o) x
Domenica said…
Dear David,

I do know what you mean, with regard to material 'things' However, they are just that!i.e. things! and I believe it is not 'things' that make us happy. They 'work' as a 'quick fix' so that for a while we may think we are happier, but it's just an illusion, and does not last.

For me,happiness is an attitude of mind, and comes from deep inside ourselves, so that no matter what is happening in our outer-world, we feel perfectly happy and content with our inner-world. Now that is a very empowering place to be and makes for a lasting peace of mind, happiness and contentment, and I can vouch for this on a personal level, some people could wonder why I am happy, and I would say that it becomes a matter of changing the way I perceive something or someone, that is to say....when I change the way I look at things....the things I look at change! resulting in a totally different mind-set.
As always David, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, you give us all plenty of 'food for thought' and engage our minds in a positive and stimulating way. Thank you!....My very best wishes to you, see you soon. Helen/(Domenica)x
Domenica said…
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