I've been feeling very anxious the last few days, and it has me worried.
I used to suffer from horrible, crippling anxiety after Gutsy was born. It was so bad that I begged my doctor for medication (to no avail), even though it's similar to the stuff I was on for postpartum depression after Intrepid and I hated what it did to me. But I was desperate to change my thinking because I felt out of control. It was like the gas pedal of my mind was pushed down all the way and there was a Diet Coke can lodged under the brake. There was no stopping the thoughts whipping through my noggin from the time I got up until the time I went to sleep.
Every day Geekster went to work, I was sure he'd lose his job. Why? Because he just would, that's why. He would go to work and they'd be downsizing, outsourcing, redirecting, selling off the department, or any other number of things that happen in the corporate world. And he would get a pink slip, and never ever find another job, and we'd be on the street with two children and I'd have to teach them to steal food from market stalls, and train monkeys to dance and grind organs for money.
Every little health concern was deadly. When symptom-checking on the internet, all roads lead to cancer, heart disease, or sudden death, just so you know. Although I was pretty sure I wasn't dying of sudden death on account of probably being too dead to do any research about it.
Every friend who didn't return my calls was obviously rejecting me because I was annoying and abrasive. (Actually, both those things are true at least some of the time, but thankfully most people haven't caught on - yet.) Or, I was simply not good enough, had lost my edge - you know, the "friend edge" I'm sure everyone else is not only aware of, but stresses over having or losing all the time, right? - or I simply was too damn boring. Yes, boring.
And this went on, and on, and on, and my brain got darker and weirder and more twisted. And I found myself wishing I could go sit in a padded room for a little while, completely lose my marbles, and come back home a few days later refreshed, happy, and maybe 30 pounds lighter.
(Actually, I just threw the weight loss thing in at the last minute because if a girl is going to dream, she should dream big - or small, or whatever.)
Basically, there was a mental illness monster taking up residence inside me and I didn't know how to kill it. It took over every minute of every day. My laughs were forced, my writing sucked, my parenting sucked even more. Intimate moments with my spouse were always coupled with a distracting list of all the things that worried me, so date nights were dreadful.
What got me through it? Being really honest about it with my closest friends and relatives. Reading some good books on it, watching shows about it. However, the final death blow for my friend Anxiety was getting pregnant with Spawnling.
For some reason - be it hormones, maternal instinct, a sudden slap of reality, or maybe all three - his pregnancy jolted me into a better place. I felt more centered than I had in years, better equipped to deal with the ups and downs in life, happier, more realistic about each situation, more relaxed than ever. I loved that feeling; I lived that feeling for over three wonderful years.
And then, a few days ago, I felt a very familiar twinge. I don't know what got its heart pumping again, but the beast is back. It's smaller and weaker than it was, but it's definitely here. I want to hit the damn thing with a shovel and throw it down a well.
How do I know this isn't normal anxiety? Because I know what normal anxiety feels like, and this isn't it. When I get anxious about something serious, my brain is demanding me to focus my attention on something pertinent. When that situation is dealt with, I'm no longer stressed out about it. Anxiety can be good.
This anxiety? Well, it's not the good kind. It's the kind that has me wondering everything from 'Why hasn't that person talked to me in so long? Is it because they don't like me? What's wrong with me?' to 'Why isn't anyone commenting on my blog posts? Is it because they've finally figured out what a shitty writer I am?'
Yes, I'm even anxious about comments. But please don't leave one just because I said that. I'm smart enough to know this usually insignificant worry makes absolutely no sense and is just a symptom of my overall insecurity.
The Maven? Insecure? Well, now we know there's a real problem.
I need to kill the monster. Here's my plan:
Step one: Admitting I'm anxious. Hello, I'm anxious. I'm even writing it on my blog so everyone can read it. Now I'm an anxious exhibitionist. Exhibitionism is rather anxiety-producing in itself, I think, so this could be counterproductive, especially with the lack of comments lately (That was a joke)
Step two: Admitting that being stuck at home with two sick kids - one who sounds like he might be getting pneumonia again, and the other who runs around naked hitting people on the head with sticks and laughing evilly - is probably fueling my anxiety just a little bit.
Step three: Understanding that maybe I have some residual stress from the last year that I haven't dealt with. To be honest, I let a lot of things roll off my back that were probably cry or scream or hit-my-head-repeatedly-against-the-wall worthy. Things are actually pretty good right now, so maybe my brain is processing. I just wish I could convince it that processed things aren't good for you; that's what Dr. Oz says, anyway.
Step four: Understanding that this may very well be hormonal and I'll get over it in a few days. That being said, I told myself that for three years last time. Just sayin'.
Step five: Eat chocolate.
The last step solidifies everything. It's a fool-proof plan, I tell you.