High anxiety - Mo Fanning Author

High anxiety

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This has been a difficult week. Is something hanging in the air? Out of the otherwise blue came a crippling anxiety attack as Friday progressed, spurred on by the slow shift to the dead-leaf mellow mists of autumn. All at once I found myself unable for things, gripped by ‘the fear’ and desperate to hide away.

I’d tickets to a comedy club, and that ruled out lurking behind closed doors … after all, this is my ‘year of saying yes‘. By design, there will be days like this.

And so, I spent Friday evening with my feet stuck to a carpet in a room that resembled the scene of a violent crime with sixteen other people, most of whom had shown up to perform. One of the guys terrified me, one of the women is clearly destined for ‘Live at the Apollo’.

Saturday dawned, I opened one eye, breathed deep and hoped for the best. Was it over? No. Still the fear held me in its grip. Less able than ever, I forced myself to get dressed and show up at comedy class. The misery-soaked three hours felt like the seventh circle of hell as every sinew strained to keep me from bolting for the door. I stumbled through – unharmed, albeit with self-confidence gutted.

Drop out

I came home dejected, sure that week four of twelve would be my last. Determined to see a half-full glass, I told myself I should be proud to have managed a quarter of the course. I signed up knowing it would terrify me, and yet I love the people, the supportive atmosphere and how my wonderful tutor tries so hard to make me trust her process. I fear she’s fighting a losing battle. Someone who writes like I write – someone addicted to story telling – will always struggle to jump tracks.

And while I‘ve your attention, here’s a tip. If your head hammers with anxiety, avoid any on-line interviews with ‘heartbroken vets explaining the need to be with your dying dog at the end’. I spent two solid hours sobbing in the dark.


For today, I’m playing things safe, and refusing to leave my bed.

Fellow cancer sufferers warned me these crashes land in waves. The roller-coaster of ‘remission and recovery’ is as devastating as diagnosis and treatment. Until I got close to this vile and cruel disease, I’d assumed when the doctor announced you were getting better, your spirits would soar. And now, I accept the need to permit despair. But also, that despair isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


I’ve a book to finish writing. A romantic comedy – and being so unable for the world is poor form. Sure enough, the editorial feedback left me daunted, but I’ve sifted through what I want to take on board. I’m halfway through what reads like a solid draft … and with three more months to the deadline, I’ll make it. I’m sure.

No matter how crap the last few days, I don’t want to stop myself saying yes.

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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