Recently an eagle-eyed reader brought something to my attention – I write about characters with anxiety a lot. Sometimes it’s more clear, like Adam from BMS or Molly from GBM, but sometimes it’s more subtle. You could make strong arguments that the characters of Megan, Aaron, and even Nicole show symptoms of anxiety-based disorders. Given those are basically all of the most important characters in the longer-form stories I’ve written so far, you could reasonably conclude that since writers insert themselves into their stories, I have anxiety. If I did, this story would end there, but interestingly, I don’t.
Obviously with my recent posts it would be stupid and a lie to say that I’m completely in the clear mentally, but I think my suicidal tendencies and depressive episodes are the only real issues I’m facing. I don’t have anything anxiety-based. So what gives? Why do I write about anxiety-based characters so often?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer I 100% believe as of now. To be honest, this hadn’t really occurred to me until the reader pointed it out. My current theory is that my writing is based upon people and situations I’ve seen unfold, and most of my friends have some kind of anxiety-based disorder, from general anxiety disorder to complex PTSD (I believe PTSD is an anxiety-based disorder). Most human beings are kind of crappy at looking at their own selves and writing about it from the outside, so more often than not I opt out of doing that entirely. Especially in terms of the non-sexual situations, I write about situations I’ve witnessed as opposed to those I’ve actively participated in.
My writing strategies have worked for me in a lot of ways, but they have interesting side effects, a lot of them I only discover as I go. One of them appears to be that I’ve accidentally written anxiety into a lot of my characters. That said, writing characters with anxiety also makes for more interesting stories. My goal is not to fetishize the condition, of course, but it’s also important to highlight that human beings have this conditions and traits. I hope that Adam and Molly aren’t specifically known as ‘the protags with anxiety’ much like one would classify ‘the big-boobed girl’ or ‘that guy with the footlong dick.’ I pray I don’t have to point this out but mental conditions aren’t just qualities that can improve the notch on a belt if you sleep with them. At the same time, too many sex stories, including story-based ones, usually gives their characters clear benefits and/or flaws. They’re scary good at math. They’re mean-spirited because an ex was bad to them. They’re kind and generous. They’re a good kisser. But anxiety? Anxiety is complicated. It changes their personality fundamentally and alters what they say and think. Inherently bad? Not necessarily, but not inherently good either.
I bet that leaves some story writers going, “Well then why would I want to write that into my characters?” Characters are human beings and humanizing traits aren’t always just negative traits or traits that make them more pitiable. Anxiety, like any other personality trait, can make a day easier or harder. Plus it can help people relate to them. Out there, there’s a reader with complex PTSD that really wants to read about a character in a sex story that has it too. Being able to relate is an important aspect to a lasting story. A good number of people have anxiety, and not only can relate to people like Adam, but Adam making good choices (when he isn’t too busy making bad ones) and reaping the rewards helps inspire them. And to any readers that have anxiety reading this, know that I’m proud of the advancements you’ve made and the struggles you’ve overcome. Hell, that goes for all of you. No matter what you’re dealing with, look at you, you’re still here, still trying to live and make the best of your life. And that’s pretty damn commendable. I’ll talk to you all next week.