Thursday, 16 September 2010

Inner demons

We all have inner demons we spend our lives wrestling with. Either we find ways of taming them and coming to terms with them, or they become so powerful they drag us under and destroy us.

Most of my inner demons have been around since I was young, some have appeared more recently. But over the years I've managed to keep them corralled well enough for other people not to be too aware of them.

People often get the impression I'm a sanguine, unruffled, confident sort of guy, seldom agitated by anything. The truth is rather different.

I worry about all sorts of things: the future, old age, money, social events, not having a job, not having enough friends. Darkness disturbs and depresses me. Bad dreams send me into irrational panics.

I fret about my identity. I doubt myself. Am I over-sensitive? Am I not sensitive enough? Am I too feminine, too eccentric, too timid, too flippant, too stingy, too aloof? Am I opinionated or am I wishy-washy?

I fear my life is horribly precarious. I'm afraid it could collapse at any moment without careful planning and organising. Just neglect a few little details and it'll be like pulling at a loose thread. Everything will unravel in seconds.

At least I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict or a helpless gambler. But nagging anxiety can turn into an equally ferocious demon if it's not dampened down and kept in its place.

Many of us don't like to discuss our private demons. We think, nobody will understand me, they'll think I'm a crazy neurotic, they'll just tell me to get a grip, they'll never speak to me again. Or we simply find it too embarrassing or daring or self-indulgent. We think we're the only person in the world with this peculiar tendency, we don't want everyone to know we're a total freak.

So we keep it strictly to ourselves, hide it away and hope nobody can spot any tell-tale signs, any behavioural twitches, the psychological equivalent of visible panty line.

Now if you'll excuse me, that's quite enough self-exposure for the time being. I must go and powder my nose.

I won't be blogging for a few days, but I'll be back soon and then all will be explained!


  1. and how often we hide the truth in a joke

  2. Kylie - Very true. And you always wonder if it's simply a joke or if there's something more serious behind it.

  3. There can simply not be any honest person who can claim that s/he does not have inner demons.

    In the Buddhist philosophy, "Inner demons are our mental afflictions, such as ignorance, desire, and hatred. A secret demon is any person that blocks your virtuous actions."

    I can vouch for the efficacy of Vipassana meditation that eradicates inner demons very effectively.

  4. I'm with you on this, Nick, though my own demons tend to play hide'n'seek and (thankfully) vanish for periods!

  5. Ramana - Lots of people recommend meditation but I've tried it in the past and never got anything out of it. Maybe I'm just too mentally restless for the meditation to work?

    Val - Unfortunately my demons don't stay away for long. They like to put the hours in!

  6. Goodonya Nick for being so honest. I've blogged about my inner demons in the past and it is only in revealing them we find that others are equally bedevilled.

    My Black Dog paces periodically, but not like before but I find that through professional help and group support my worries have fled leaving me with the concept of staying in the day and recognising that I only have the day, I could be dead or whatever tomorrow, so no point in worrying.

    Easier said than done, my friend, I know, it took me a long time to get to the (fairly) peaceful place I'm in and to trust in the universe that all is well.


  7. You're a brave man to list out your inner demons!
    My own private bug is that I'M GOING TO BE FOUND OUT..

  8. I so understand. My anxiety was ruining my life. But now I take a happy pill and I'm fine! And I'm happy to say that I take a pill because it's a chemical imbalance and needs treatment like any other illness.

  9. www - I'm impressed that you've managed to see off your worries and become more serene about life. The help you got was obviously very effective.

    Macy - I doubt if your inner demons would shock me in the least. Not only do I have a truckload of my own, I've been privy to some pretty bizarre ones in other people.

    Liz - A happy pill, eh? I've always resisted medicinal solutions, particularly since some of them have weird side-effects, but maybe it's worth considering....

  10. I doubted if I had any inner demons, perhaps I did not recognise them. The capcha said weall and then the demons within refused my comment! is there a hidden message here for me?

  11. One of the most liberating realizations I've ever had is that every single person on earth is at heart a frightened six-year old. Everyone - the people I resprct the most, the people who intimidate me, the people I envy.

    It hasn't made the demons go away, but it's sort of tamed them. I've given them names to make those 3 AM discussions more civilized.

  12. True story: I once made the decision that as of that moment I would never again worry about anything.

    I immediately worried about what would happen if I stopped worrying, as through worry itself were the very glue keeping my life from descending into chaos.

  13. Grannymar - Yes, definitely a hidden message. You are far too perfect a person to be commenting on my blog!

    Barb - You're right about the frightened six year old, exactly how I feel sometimes. I feel like screaming for my mummy, except that my mummy is just the sort of person who would say "Oh, get a grip". And I've had more of those fruitless 3am discussions than I've had hot dinners....

    Tattytiara - I've never tried that, but I'm sure it would bring much the same result. Maybe it IS worry that's keeping my life together?

  14. I go through phases of being beset by inner demons, and phases of breezing along completely untroubled. One of the things I worry a lot about when the demons are noisy is that during the next breezy phase, when I'm not paying attention, everything will collapse. I only really get things done when the demons are in control, so I've learnt to rub along quite nicely with them.

  15. Eryl - Yes, in a weird way the demons sometimes help, because my worries about some upcoming event prompt me to pay attention to it and make sure it goes smoothly.

  16. atually, i'm pretty good at recognising the truth told in joke form.
    got you worried???

  17. Kylie - Oh no, so now you're privy to all my deepest, most embarrassing secrets. Including the ones I haven't even mentioned. If you reveal any of them in your forthcoming autobiography, I shall have to consult my lawyers....

  18. I wear my inner demons on my sleeve.
    And since doing this they've been a lot friendlier - they need to be aired every once in a while and then you realise how silly they are.

  19. Scarlet - Good idea. I shall air them more frequently and wait expectantly for them to burst like soap bubbles.

  20. my dear, my autobiography will be about me! me, me, me, me, MEEEEEE!!!!

  21. I soend most of my work day listening to people talk about their inner demons and I feel with certainty that we ALL have them. Anyone who says he/she doesn't is a liar, liar, pants on fire.

  22. Kylie - I get the impression quite a lot of it will be about you then....

    Secret Agent - Well, if anyone should know, it's a therapist who hears everyone's personal secrets all day. I'm sure we all have our demons, whether we admit it or not.

  23. Isn't that why lots of us blog!!

    Hope you're having a good time?

    See you soon

  24. Nick, I do not know quite how you learnt to meditate. Learnt from trained Vipassana meditation teachers, it can work. Even for highly restless minds. You might like to investigate at

  25. Good thoughts, Nick: I have the same demons sometimes. There was an old Auden play, The Ascent of F6, that reminds me of the situation: a group of climbers on a haunted mountain, being killed off one by one by the embodiment of their inner demons.

  26. Welcome to the human race, Nick. I think many of us worry about these things, too. Covering with humour or sarcasm unfortunately does little to relieve them.

    Enjoy the next few days!

  27. Suburbia - Indeed, there are so many personal quirks I've blogged about that I would hesitate to divulge anywhere else. I'm having a great time, thanks!

    Ramana - Thanks. I'll investigate your link when I'm back from where I am - says he mysteriously....

  28. Dave - My inner demons must say hello to your inner demons! I hadn't heard of that play. I must check it out, it sounds intriguing.

    e - That's true, the humour may partially conceal them but the demons are still there waiting to pounce....

    Megan - Can't stand beer. But a glass of wine certainly helps to tame the little buggers.

    I'll be back soon!

  29. You aren't alone Nick. We all have them and some of us are more successful at hiding them than others. I think hiding them takes a toll on us emotionally - but being up front about your demons can lead to other people defining you by them, which is not cool at all. Anyway, hope all is alright with you! ;)

  30. Liz - Good point about being defined by our demons. But then again, I suppose any aspect of our personality can be singled out by mischief-makers! Fear not, I'm just fine apart from all the mental static!