I’ve always been an anxious fellow. I’ve always had a lot of phobias. I mostly was afraid of people though (social anxiety disorder). I was always worried what they would think. When I talked to people, it was difficult for me to string sentences together because I was so worried that my speech and facial gestures would be judged harshly. As I aged these fears began to go away. But they never went completely away until I started practicing Stoicism in 2011.
Starting in 2010 I had a lot of anger problems too. Some of it was because of my right-libertarian political beliefs at the time. But as I practiced Stoicism my anger and my anxiety subsided. Premeditatio malorum (more popularly known as negative visualization) really helped alleviate most of my anger and anxiety.
Even though I had mastered my anxiety and anger by 2012, I fell into a depression that caused psychosis. No amount of Stoicism helped in this respect especially since it was a complete mental breakdown and it happened within a week. It was just rapid depression turning into a loss of touch with reality. After hospitalization, I was heavily medicated and I was able to think straight again. Sometimes I still feel down or lose interest in daily life activities but my Stoicism really helps me adapt to this attitude. I can easily get myself out of bed with Stoicism.
One of the things I’ve learned is that Stoicism can help me master some of my mental issues but not all of them. Sometimes Stoicism’s mental therapies just don’t do the trick. But they do at least help me when things are moderately severe. Stoicism also helps me with pain.
In 2013 I was hospitalized for spontaneous stomach bleeding. I lost a lot of blood but even though I did I was Stoically content. The surgery was really painful because they had to cut through my belly in order to fix my stomach. The nurses were very impressed with how I was able to cope with my pain. Stoicism really prepared me for painful things like sharp cuts through the abdomen.
Stoicism can’t fix all your issues. Don’t believe any one thing can just fix everything unless it’s like nanobots or something out of Star Trek. Stoicism can’t completely fix you, marijuana can’t cure all cancers, vegan diets can’t cure all diabetes. Don’t believe that only one thing can fix all things. But Stoicism really does help a lot when you need something else other than medication or group therapy.
Stoicism is probably the most helpful philosophy I’ve ever had. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
Pro tip: when negatively visualizing – imagine looking down upon yourself and imagine yourself acting calmly and virtuously in a difficult situation.