I’ve been busy. Really busy. Maybe even too busy to get overwhelmed.
Yet the anxiety is there. Always there. Like a horror film where the heroine (that’s me) thinks she hears something, but when she turns off the waste disposal or the TV, it’s silent. She catches a glimpse of something as she walks from room to room, but when she looks again, there is nothing there, just an unshakeable feeling of unease. And we never know if it’s just her imagination until the final scene when IT RIPS OFF HER WHOLE FUCKING FACE!
I keep busy. I keep moving. But it tugs at my clothes like a small child, forcing me to stoop down to find out what it wants. But like a child, it does not articulate, it simply emotes. A steady stream of need, crying out for my attention, telling me something is wrong somewhere, warning me that something bad is coming.
And so I rifle through the laden pockets of my anxiety coat, trying to find the source, searching for the reason why.
Mentally I scroll through my Shit-List, trying to locate the breach from which the sewage is bubbling.
Relationship with son: After starting the year feeling inconsolable about the prospect of my empty nest, I have been reminded what a great relationship we have. We are spending more time together. He still doesn’t want me to have boyfriends but now he tells me it’s because he loves me, not because he hates me. Status: GREEN
Relationship with family: Sharing my issues with anxiety and being clearer about what I need from them, and what they can’t ask of me, has been positive. It’s not perfect but I don’t feel unappreciated. Status: GREEN
Work: Procrastination and lack of fulfillment remain issues, but I trying to accept that I can get positive feedback because I doing a good job. Status: AMBER
House: There is something thrilling and terrifying about being within grasping distance of having your dream house. Well four months and a fortune away. But remember what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted… Status: AMBER
Health: After some test results earlier this year that presented the alarming possibility of a serious auto-immune disease, I have now discovered that I have inflammatory back pain (a form of arthritis). And I’m over the moon! I’ve had chronic back pain for years, which was wrongly diagnosed, causing much argument with doctors and physios that the treatment seemed to be wrong. I have been accused many times of having a psychosomatic condition. I have been vindicated. I now have condition appropriate treatment, a lovely consultant and my back is the best it has been in 9 years. And I don’t have cancer. Health very much appreciated right now. Status: GREEN
Polaris: There is a scene in The Sound of Music where Maria asks Liesl if there have been any telegrams lately (delivered by her lover Rolf, a Hitler Youth / Postman Pat hybrid). She replies: “None at all. But I’m learning to accept it.” Later Maria offers this advice about the end of relationships: “You cry a little. Then you wait for the sun to come out. It always does.” In this analogy, Polaris is Rolf, who is conflicted about whether to shop seven children and a nun to the Nazis. Bit of trivia for you: in the stage version, he helps them escape, while in the film, he literally blows the whistle, literally. I feel this indecisiveness perfectly fits our hero-in-waiting. But maybe I’m way over the mountain by now. (I always had a thing for Rolf, and if that shocks you, you won’t want to hear about my crush on Herr Flick.) Status: AMBER
My appearance: You know when you’re getting ready to go out and you look in the mirror and you think “looking good, you sexy bitch”. But when you’re out you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window or the mirror behind the bar, and you’ve changed from Dorian Gray to the portrait? That’s where I am. So better than usual. Status: Amber
The Future: I kick myself daily for failing to find the time to write but, if I’m honest, the problem is that it fails to cause me real stress. If anything, avoiding writing allows me to avoid the eventual anxiety of anyone reading what I’ve written. Nothing to see here. Status: GREEN
State of the world: Trump continues to be one of the most depressing, festering sores on my psyche. Trump is the stuff of nightmares – dystopian fiction brought to life by the kind of rich men who 200 years ago would have been beating slaves in their fields. Sorry kids – monsters are real. Yet even before the US election, some were hoping for a Trump victory to provide the spark for a real socialist revolution. Any maybe, just maybe, we are starting to see that happen. Every day I see more support for Jeremy Corbyn, and it feels like the world woke up. The swing towards Labour makes my heart lighter than it has been in a long while. It’s like finding out that, just as monsters exist, so do gods and Gandalf and Glinda! Status: Fingers crossed – to be reviewed on June 9th
So no red flags. Having groped every possible cause of anxiety, nothing is the right shape, nothing fits the hole I feel.
But here’s the problem with anxiety. If you had 24-7 CCTV of your life, you could rewind and find the moment. And that moment could be as simple of a stressful moment in traffic, or an awkward exchange at work. At the time it seemed like nothing, but it started the chain reaction. It was the spark of adrenaline. It was the butterfly flapping its wings. I can fight all the big demons but I still miss the little bunny that slips between my legs (totally unintentional and wonderful innuendo).
I have been working on the triggers for my anxiety but it seems I have removed “the cause but not the symptom” (Dr Frank N. Furter). Anxiety feels like standing in a sandpit, trying to clear the sand and find the bottom, but whenever you clear a spot, the sand rushes back in. The sand trickles, then surges and then the walls collapse. And you’re stuck in the same sand pit, only now you’re exhausted.
I am not going to lie. Writing this has bummed me out. Letting the darkness in. Stopping for a moment in the busy throng of the day, and allowing myself to feel the chill of the shadow. Tomorrow, I’ll fight the good fight. Now, I’ll just let the feeling ride a while. Maybe it will wear itself out.
Sometimes I feel the world is ending. Then I feel it’s just beginning.* All at once. Hope and despair. Fight and surrender. Heads and tails. Up and down. Sometimes it’s hard to remember it’s a simple choice.
*Also paraphrased from The Sound of Music