TedX: Talking with AnXiety

He steps into the light.

Tiers of humanity swipe hardware into silent mode.

Except one.

He waits.

With grudging compliance, she first swipes, then drops her phone between rows of plastic seats,


The assembled crowd guffaws; the ripe expletive gifts him space to summon saliva to form words.

Solidity of a microphone; clutched with whitened fingers.

Confidence squares up to vulnerability.  

The scent of the crowd’s anticipation/disdain sways him; reflected in his shoe leather, he bends out of shape; an erroneous representation, or the truth?

Opposing ways of being exist simultaneously; swelling exponentially into spaces occupied until now by his thoughts and message.

Digitised numbers commence a remorseless countdown; time, like existence, is finite.

He lifts his head to speak, only to see the event programmes deployed as makeshift fans around the airless lecture hall no longer bear the legend ‘TedX’



Reality is corruptible-dissociation- spiralling now.

Therapist Notes 12/06/11

Subject displays schemas related to childhood trauma. The subject identified how this trauma triggers an altered state of anXiety and dissociation. Subject failed to seek appropriate mental health/medical intervention, resulting in debilitating anXiety. Subject chose to work through his anXiety without (as I suggested) recourse to medication, instead undertaking self-study on neuroplasticity and self-compassion.  Previously the subject was a public speaker and is keen to work when his condition allows. Childhood trauma must be addressed before he develops a productive relationship with anXiety.

The Night Before Christmas 1972

He steps into the light, screams into the void of the darkened staircase; pyjamas soaking around the crotch, messy black hair framing startled eyes.

This night is silent.

He descends with clutching toes.

The soothing fragrance of the fire reaches him; on elongated joints he barrages open the leaden living room door; emptiness renders the familiar space threatening.

The towering grandfather clock chimes twelve, its studious poise illuminated by cooling embers.

‘Mummy, Daddy?’

His fearful cries seduce hope, wasted breath trails smouldering ashes,

Abandonment as combustion.

Solitude and silence seed each four-year-old cell.

Running to the front door now, heaving it open,

My unheeded cries dissipate into the dizzying universe of starXs beyond.

Come back to the now; the ashes cool when you no longer feed them.

Toes, feet, ankles, shins, legs, fingers touching paper, breath, the turn of the Earth, the metal of the microphone.



I am here.


The event programmes deployed as fans in this moment bear the word


My subconscious merely wishes me safety and I am grateful.

Early warning systems, like artificial intelligence, seek out truths, leaving their programmers far behind.

But this is my truth; the choice of reality I continue to strive for.

I step into the light, speaker notes pinched tightly in whitened fingers. 

TedX Talk Presentation Notes July 2012

Anxiety is not fully understood; a combination of factors plays a role.

Research suggests these include:

  • overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions/behaviour
  • imbalance of brain chemicals involved in control/regulation of mood
  • genes inherited from parents 
  • history of stressful/traumatic experiences
  • painful long-term health conditions
  • history of drug/alcohol misuse

The remorseless digital countdown ceases at zero,

I blurt out my conclusion.

‘Please don’t struggle with anxiety alone, speak up, reach out, seek help. Organisations like https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/ provide support.’

My audience applauds; this fire is out.

I step into the light.

I belong here.

Shaun Dellenty July 15th 2020

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