The Anxious Life: Part One

This morning, I woke up to hear one of the cats crying and I immediately thought ” He’s dying” and leapt out of bed to race down the stairs. Of course, Boris was fine, just hungry and a little grumpy. Boris is 20 and tough as nails for a 5 lb scrappy cat whose only intervention is a daily IV of fluids and an occasional shot of penicillin.

Then I made coffee as I do every single other day before trudging back up the steps to put on a sundress and embrace the day. When I made it back to the kitchen, coffee was flowing all over the counter because I hadn’t put the carafe where it needed to be.

That’s when I wept.

Laura helped me wipe up the mess and kept reminding me that it wasn’t a fatal disaster. Nothing was ruined, but I was sure it was a sign of something horrible. I could not calm myself down. I wept for the wasted effort, for the wasted money (really, pennies to be honest) and for the destruction of my routine. I make coffee, I feed cats and I drink at least half a cup before taking Laura to work. It’s what I do. But this morning I was inconsolable.

That happened last night. We had tickets to the Pirates and I was freaking out about my seat being wet and getting hit by a baseball. Laura knew there are common reasons I usually avoid going to public places, but I escalated to a full fledge panic attack.

I worry about getting to the game and back. I worry about walking, about parking, about paying to park. I worry about seat mates. I worry about irritating someone who will turn around and dump beer on me. I worry about people drinking beer around me because of my long family history of alcoholism. I worry about baseballs because – well, people die. I worry about not eating cool food because it is too far from my seat. I worry about walking home with wet pants and/or wet shoes. I worry about the size of my bag and the contents as well.

Needless to say, we didn’t end up going to the game. I fell asleep at 6:30 in complete exhaustion from anxiety and Ledcat ran errands.

I miss being able to attend a Pirates game and just enjoy the experience, especially the view and the weather and the camaraderie. But I worry about everything from the moment I set foot out my front door. The only time I really was able to relax at a game was when some friends invited us into a box. 80% of my concerns were addressed. But obviously I can’t afford box seats.

I was crushed that we missed the game. I felt like a failure, I felt the wasted money and I felt this nagging fear in my heart that I am losing this battle against anxiety.

Anxiety dominates my social life. I am so utterly terrified of running into “Dave the Snake Guy” (whom I’ve never met) that I refuse to go to art events on the East End during warm weather. He’s cool and my fear of snakes is uncool, so I already know that speaking out about the fact that people should not walk around with snakes (or off leash dogs or other things that frighten people) is never going to work. I can’t imagine anyone would stand up for me and have snakes removed from their event, much less clearly ban snakes.

Because snakes are misunderstood whereas human beings living with anxiety are not? I guess.

For me, the combination of feeling the fear or worry combined with the general sense that most people think I’m ridiculous/nuts/annoying is the heart of the anxiety. I worry that if the anxiety gets too much, if I can’t manage it even with all of my tools, that no one will help me.

And that’s truly terrifying.

 

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