Monday, November 19, 2012

In Which I Talk About Anxiety

         I don't know how to do this anymore. My typing skills (HA HA! Skills! As if!) are rusty and so is my screen writing brain (by which I mean the brain I use to put words on a screen rather than on a page). But, where there's a will there's a May, so it is written, so shall it be done.
        I've been catching up on other people's blogs (are you down with OPB?) and I see that there is a lot of crazy going around. A lot of Going Through Shit. This I find reassuring. Now I know I'm not the only one. I've been in hiding, because I am anxious, and I am ashamed at my anxiety, and I don't want folks to worry about me, so I become reclusive and don't talk to my friends, which makes me more anxious, and so on. It's funny because it seems like everyone is anxious these days and they talk about it blithely and with humor on NPR and in the New Yorker and so you would think that I would own it and laugh with the world at all our silly fears. Only, it is not funny to me. It's scary. I don't like it.
       Two years ago I was tall and strong and brave. I walked with legs longer than my own and owning, I owned the floor. I managed the floor actually, I was the Floor Manager. Managing things was my job. Then one day (actually, this was a little over two years ago) I got the shakes at work and had to walk away for a little while. It happened that one time, and then I was fine for a while, and then again a couple of months later. It was during brunch and I was fine, I was fine, and then all of a sudden the floor tilted and my hands wouldn't stay still and I could not carry those damn bloody marys to table twelve so I passed off the table and went to lie down on the floor in the office. I didn't know what was happening. I'd never experienced anything like that before. I thought I was having a low blood sugar attack or something and I called my brother and he came picked me up, took me to lunch, and then to his house where I fell asleep on the couch and woke up feeling much better. See? Blood sugar, right?
        That was the worst it got at work, the worst, but it kept happening every once in a while. I made sure that I had snacks and if I got shaky, well, I'd just take a little break and eat something and come back and everything was fine. Still, I hated it. I was the manager! I had to manage! I was the one who, if everyone was else was in the weeds, could get thrown to the wolves and I'd be fine. I'd be smiling.
         Meanwhile in my personal life, my long-distance relationship fell apart and I got together with my neighbor/ coworker's best friend and all was topsy-turvy and my simple and quiet life was being pulled from my hands. I was trying desperately to catch the pieces as they blew away.
        It wasn't all bad. New boyfriend turned out to be sweetness completeness who would pull me into him at night in his sleep and stop whatever he was doing to kiss my face. I needed that. I still do.
       I made an appointment, and he drove me to the doctor. The doctor was kind and listened to my symptoms and told me that it did indeed sound like a blood sugar problem (even with snacks, it is hard to eat when you are a waitress. Waitresses don't eat. Not really. They are robots). He scheduled me for tests. The blood work girl was beautiful and wore a turban. There was a poster of cartoon cats on the wall. As she drew the blood so gently from my arm I tried to pick my favorite cat, while my boyfriend held my other hand and told me which one he liked best too. Then he took me to breakfast.
       Two weeks later and back with the kind doctor, he told me I was absolutely fine. Perfect actually, couldn't be better. He punctuated his findings by taps on the table as he read from his laptop. "Kidneys? Great. Liver? Perfect. Thyroid? Wonderful. Iron? Most women your age start to go down in iron, but yours is ideal. Blood sugar? There is no evidence that you have any problems whatsoever." The doctor was Indian and his voice had a beautiful upwards lilt. It sounded like he was reciting poetry. Then he told me there was something else that carried the same symptoms as hypoglycemia, and that was anxiety.
      I left the office feeling let down. And relieved. I didn't want to be hypoglycemic, but I wanted something concrete, something physical that I could pinpoint and fix and be well and move on. The brain is so slippery, so sneaky and smart, it will do what it wants. It will tell the heart to beat fast, it will call out danger, it will tell the feet that the earth is sliding and the feet will listen. Now here is where I'm going to sound really crazy: I know that I am my brain, but I sort of think of it like an Other, like I and Brain are separate. If Brain was going to be an asshole, I was going to bitch slap it into submission. "Stop it, Brain!" I would say. "Stop it right now! There is no danger! We have done this a thousand times before!" And actually, that worked. For a while.
      I wasn't the only one having anxiety at work, particularly around brunch. One of our waitresses would wake up at 5 AM with a pounding heart every Sunday. One of our food runners had to throw up more often than not before his brunch shift. Another waitress one time had to sit on the floor in the beverage station with her head between her knees while I stood there and rubbed her back and said, "Breathe. In and out. Just breathe." I can't tell you exactly why it was so bad. It just was. It still is, I hear. I'm glad I'm not there.
       The anxiety started creeping back, and though that was not the only reason I left, it was a factor.
        I had hoped that it would lessen if I was away from all the pressure of that place. All the craziness and the stress and the troubles with the upper management, but it didn't. Not really. It changed, for sure, but it's like my body got a taste of terror and now I am afraid of being afraid. I had an anxiety attack while driving recently and now every time I get into my car I feel that sickness, that sweaty leaden dread. It ain't pretty and it ain't fun.
      I'm working on it. I'm writing about it, and that feels good. Writing feels like medicine. Reading the blogs of strong ladies, ladies I admire, ladies who are also experiencing or who have experienced something similar is medicine too. I hope I can give that back. Or at least let someone else feel a little of that, "Well, I'm not THAT bad" feeling. I'm also looking into support groups which, if nothing else, will give me more blog fodder. Being unemployed I need something to write about.
       Right now I'm going to go on a walk. I'm going to walk hard and sweat. I'm going to feel how strong my legs are, how strong my back is. I'm going to suck the sunlight into my skin and get up that one damn hill that is a bitch every time and when I get to the top I will raise up my arms and cheer and jump up and down like a champion (like I do every time) and I will feel that wild feeling that the world is beautiful and that no matter what I love it, I love it, I love it. This too shall pass, it won't be like this always. All the people we have ever been are still inside us; that strong, long girl is still inside me. I take comfort in that.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Been A Long Time Since We Rock-n-Rolled

          I woke up this morning after too many gray days, after not feeling well and time on the couch only interrupted by time in the bed and lo, the sky is blue and lo, the air is clean and cold and oh, I have to wash my hair. I want to burn my pajamas. I want to get on the good foot. I want to take a walk.
         I wish I could write about all the changes that have occurred in the past year and a half. I don't have the energy right now, it's too much and somehow not enough. I will try. Soon.
         I quit my job. I wish I could write about that, about the bittersweet about that place and also the miseries, but I don't want to tell tales outside of school and if I can't write the anger then I can't write the sublime. It's just not truth that way. Maybe I will though, you never know. Lord knows it would be nice to get it all out and move on. Weird when something is your life for so long and then it is not and you walk around empty for a while- hands empty, brain empty, a strange light feeling in your skin and nothing to say, not at all, to anyone.
        I can hear the boyfriend turning in the bed, and the house ticking into late morning, and the cats playing rumble-stomp, and for now that is okay. There is a walk to take, and hair to wash. I'm sorry it's been so long. We'll talk soon.