Does Anxiety Increase with Age?

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” —Jodi Picoult

I agree with Jodi Picoult, anxiety has never taken anyone anywhere, except maybe to the dumps. Anxiety, was something I never understood, until maybe a few years ago. I used to make fun of my grandmother and my mother, who would worry about what seemed like little things to me. For instance, my grandmother would worry if I came home slightly later than usual from college. Along with making fun of their anxiety, I also made fun of their special dealings with god, made during anxiety-causing situations, a sort of quid pro quo if you will. For my grandmother, and for everyone who practices it, it is probably a form of solace just like KPAC Lalitha’s character from the movie CID Unnikrishnan B.A. B.Ed. Whenever her son faced a tough situation, she made promises to different gods, and most of her promises involved her husband having to complete tasks like tonsuring, circumambulating (pradakshinam) and such. My mother has many such dealings too, but I dare not enter into those details; else I will get a earful from her :-).

While on the topic of dealings, one particular deal comes to mind. We were in Bangalore those days and had decided to go to Lal Bagh (a popular botanical garden ) with my mother’s aunt and her family. Her daughter (my aunt), my mom and I decided to go to a beauty parlor before heading to the park and as luck may have it, got extremely delayed. My mom’s aunt was super super worried and prayed to offer a vada mala (garland made of crispy lentil fritters) to Hanuman upon our safe return. We reached safely and at a later date got to enjoy the vadas 😀.

Another incident I remember in bits also happened in Bangalore. I was in middle school, and on the said day our classes were adjourned early for some reason and I had no way to get home. I accompanied a friend to the nearby defense base (could have been Air Force base, I do not remember) and called my father from the guard’s station. Then, instead of waiting there for him, I wandered off to the friend’s place. My father found me after some time of frantic searching, while I was completely oblivious of his panic. As I entered the car, the song Dil hum hum kare, ghabraye (the heart worries…) from Rudali was playing and I remember my father saying, how the line described exactly how he was feeling. I did not understand it then, but now I do.

Anyway, coming back to my question regarding the connection between anxiety and age, I think there is a strong one. Like I said earlier, I would always make fun of the older people at home who would get anxious for everything, small and big. But these days, I get anxious too, for what I feel are big things. I haven’t gotten into the habit of making barter deals with god and don’t think I will ever get to that, but the anxiety levels have definitely increased.

Just a couple of days ago, my father sent me some photos of a car on fire, in the middle of a road and no explanation to go with it. I knew that he had gone to pick up my niece from the railway station, late at night on Saturday. Among the photos was one of a number plate and a few that showed the car’s color. I of course did not remember the car’s registration number, but I recognized the color. For about half and hour I went about doing some household chores and did not mention it to Mr. P. Even though I had not 100% recognized the car, there was this weird feeling at the back of my head. Then after almost 45 minutes of brewing things in my head, I showed him the photos and he was like, “Why didn’t you show these to me as soon as they came? Let’s call and find out.” And then we called my mother and learned that it was their car and that fortunately, my father and niece were safe. They had smelled smoke soon after they left from the station, pulled over to the side, got out with whatever they had to grab and within minutes the car had engulfed in flames. Luckily, no one was hurt and we all were cracking jokes and laughing about it the next morning. But those 45 minutes of not knowing were quite nerve-racking.

At this point, I am sure my mother will make fun of me saying, “When did you start getting anxious, I thought you were always cool?” Well, I don’t know when it started but I do, at times. I also try my best to keep it under control and channel my mind to other things, when possible. Like Paulo Coelho said, “Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it— just as we have learned to live with storms.”

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4 thoughts on “Does Anxiety Increase with Age?

  1. I do worry about many things but hardly manifest them into penance and offerings to God in advance or as a thanks giving. The song “Que sera sera” explains my attitude.
    There is something that I do very religiously; when in a tight fix, I start planning for all the likely outcomes and make plans for most of the likely outcomes. Beyond that is “Dekha jaayega”.
    The car burning case mentioned in Aparna’s post is another such instance. Ms N and I were lucky to be able to get out well in time from the car with all valuables and stand far away.
    The Mad magazine Character Alfred E Neuman, with his punch dialogue “What, me worry?” is the best course to take.

    Liked by 1 person

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