memoir

Without getting too much into the details of it, I’ve started to write something like a memoir. It began as a defense against a really bad day last week, where my anxiety spiked for reasons I still don’t comprehend. I have no idea what triggered it. I just know it was bad.

Writing helped, and it’s been interesting to me to start to put everything down on paper, to try to pin things down and dissect them and to look back to see how and when and where things went so wrong and then so right.

Because that’s been taking what little writing time I have, I thought I would start to share it here. I think all three of my readers have an idea of the journey I’ve been on, but I am still curious. For those willing to give feedback, do you find this compelling in the slightest or is it narcissistic in the extreme?

Be honest!

xoxo

-Alas


As I begin this draft, I’m not certain it’s a good idea. I think I’ve been building for some time towards writing about the past 19 months and what little I’ve learned along the way. I suppose I do so partly out of a need to make more sense of it all myself, but also with some thought towards the possibility that somehow, someday, my own journey might be of some use to some other benighted soul who is engaged in the same struggle that I have been: anxiety.

I suppose I’ve always had the tendency to worry about things that have been wholly out of my control. I’ve always had a touch of the hypochondriac about me. In retrospect, it seems obvious that some thirty odd years of cultivating those seeds was destined to lead to a bumper crop of issues. I only ever needed the exact wrong conditions to push it from the manageable but annoying tendency to forecast worst case scenarios at the slightest provocation – forecast, but not truly believe – to have it become something that is not only out of my control but which also tends to control me. Now do I not only absolutely believe that the worst case scenario is going to happen, I believe it against all logic, reason and previous experience.

It’s exhausting.

So I’m tired and angry as I write this. Tired because I feel defeated after more than a year and a half of anxiety defining my days as either good, bad or Really Bad. Angry because I’ve always tried to let logic rule over my thought processes and how I view the world, but all the logical thinking in the world does piss all when I’m in the grip of irrational fear. I know that it’s right there in the adjective I’ve chosen that this fear is not rational, but I still feel I should be able to talk sanely to myself and just stop freaking out that I’ve suddenly developed an allergy to eggs where none has ever existed before and so the breakfast my husband lovingly made me isn’t going to actually be the thing that kills me.

Things that also probably won’t be the thing to kill me but which I totally lose my shit over anyway include going to the airport, sitting in a crowded theater, yogurt and that one time a red ant bit my foot. Which was nine months ago, but I remain vigilant! Against my will and against all reason, I remain vigilant.

The day on which I decided to start writing all of this down was a Really Bad Day. One of the (thankfully) increasingly rare ones, where I’m not even sure what triggered the massive amounts of panic and so I have even fewer ways to try to deal with it. At least when I know what the underlying issue is, I can talk to my husband and together we can talk about how unlikely it really is that I have throat cancer. When I just feel panic and my body goes in flight mode but I have nothing to flee from exactly, it gets a bit more tricky. Generally speaking, on days like today, I flee in various ways until I’m too exhausted physically, mentally or emotionally to do anything other than shut down in some gruesome sort of surrender, where it becomes all about endurance.

If I can get through this minute, and then the next, and maybe through the day and then the night…. I just might make it.

Anxiety is the thunderstorm that rolls suddenly and violently over the landscape of my days. Those torrential downpours and even weeks of persistent drizzle have changed the contours of my life, to the point where I don’t recognize any of my personal landmarks most days. I have been flooded and battered by these waters, unfamiliar, cold and dark.

I am not an optimist. Anyone who knows me would attest to it. Probably loudly and at length.

But here’s the secret about my anxiety: It has had one profoundly positive impact on my life, even among all the destruction and devastation that it has wrought. It has been, to paraphrase Charles Spurgeon, “the wave that has dashed me against the Rock of Ages.” I have learned to kiss it, after my own fashion, even as I yearn for a life free from that pounding surf.

Having rediscovered the safety of that Rock, unyielding to the fury of the ocean storm, and steady under my feet as the firmest of foundations, I keep asking that this trial might reach its end. I have learned my lesson, God. I am lost without You. If I promise to follow You faithfully for all my days, will You make me sane again?

God doesn’t bargain like that.

But He leads me on, and I follow.

4 thoughts on “memoir

  1. I’m definitely interested to read more!

    I’ve never suffered from anxiety to those extremes, only had little bits of it. Enough that they have given me medication for it in the past, but mine have been smaller panic attacks mainly related to my burn out and being unable with coping when I have too much to do. (And apparently after a burn out “too much to do” can be having to do the laundry after a day at work… It’s ridiculous!)

    The little bits I’ve had though… I do feel for you. It’s not a nice emotion, and the extents that you feel must be awful. I’m awed and impressed by how far you do seem to have come, since it’s not an easy battle!

    I can relate to the feeling of knowing logically that something is not the right way to feel, but being unable to put it into practice. After my burn out I walk around with a perpetual feeling of “I don’t have the time to do this!” and “I don’t have enough time!”, despite me actually having the time. Like, I’ll take my dog out with the intention of going for a nice, long walk. A few minutes in, and the uneasy and very pressing feeling of “I don’t have time for this!” comes over me, and it’s very difficult to suppress it. Logically, I know that I do have the time… But my body still feels all the signs of stress, even when there shouldn’t be any.

    Then after the surgery that went wrong last year, I struggled for quite a while with the illogical fear of dying in my sleep. The moment I felt myself drift off, I’d jerk awake – absolutely certain that I had just stopped breathing! Or that if I fell asleep I just wouldn’t wake up again.

    That’s mostly gone now, but I noticed when I had a bad cold a couple of months ago that some lingering bits of it are still there. I was terrified of taking Night Nurse (cough meds to help you sleep), because I was worried that the “help you sleep” part of it was actually going to make me unable to wake up if my body suddenly decided to stop breathing. (I don’t suffer from sleep apnea or anything, it’s just that irrational, weird fear perking up its big, nasty head again.)

    Sorry! I feel like I hijacked your post here! What I’m trying to say is that I can sort of feel where you’re coming from, even if my background is different. It’s a struggle, and I am very interested to read more about what you have to say about your journey 🙂

    1. Ugh, no, I’m sorry! It’s taken me forever to around to making any kind of response and I’m so tired now that I feel like I shouldn’t even be trying because I’ll miss something. If I do, I’ll just swing back by later, assuming my brain ever starts functioning properly again.

      So, I can so relate to a lot of what you said. Although I think your fear of dying your sleep is not at all illogical, especially having had a surgery go wrong. I’m afraid of dying in my sleep because…. no reason, really. I just struggle with it from time to time. Which is senseless in the extreme, because at least it seems like a peaceful way to go, and if you were sleeping you wouldn’t notice you were dying and that would make it all a lot less scary.

      I also don’t take medications unless I absolutely must. Things that I used to take with no concern whatsoever now seem all fraught with danger. Because this time it’ll be a bad reaction, I guess. I have no idea. I wish logic worked against anxiety, because then I wouldn’t have anxiety at all.

      Anyhow, not entirely sure I’m glad to be relatable in this case, because it means life has been difficult and unwieldy and even a bit unmanageable for you as well. But on the plus side, I think it’s good to bond together, to say I get you, you’re okay and you’re going to be okay. Sometimes it can seem so lonely, like my mental disorder has put a bubble around me and while I can talk to people outside the bubble and try to tell them what it’s like inside, they can’t really know unless they’ve had their own isolating slice of madness to deal with.

      I have no idea if anything I’ve said makes sense. I think I should get to bed.

      But before I go, you’ve got this. You’re okay. You’re going to be okay.

  2. I’m sorry for my delayed response. I saved this in my feed reader for when I had more time to mull over it and then forgot (of course).

    I would definitely be interested in reading more of these type of thoughts if you choose to share them here. I haven’t personally struggled with anxiety, but I have plenty of my own issues. I find it encouraging to hear from others who are working to overcome whatever it is that plagues them. And if it’s helpful for you to share, then by all means! It’s your blog and should serve your needs.

    1. Thank you for the feedback! I think I will continue, although I swear there’s other stuff on my mind. It’s just buried underneath all the work work and the life life. I really need to prioritize my own writing because even if serves no one else any purpose ever, it’s good therapy for me!

      And I am with you on liking to hear how other people work to overcome their own issues, whatever they may be. Sometimes just because you get an idea you can modify for your own self and your own issues. Sometimes because it makes you feel a little less alone in the struggle. Sometimes because you see how petty your own stuff can be in the face of someone else who is having to be truly courageous. (Not that I think comparing is always a good thing, and it’s certainly not a competition. Just, sometimes, I think, “Okay, I don’t have it that bad.” Perspective.)

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