I seem to be dealing with an anxiety attack right now. I’m going to try my best to document it here for documentation purposes. Step One in dealing with anxiety is determining the cause. Because if it is a cause that can be dealt with, we can deal with it and move on. Right?
I have two hypotheses about the cause of this particular attack.
1. Social Anxiety
2. Being out of a routine.
Last week the girls and I went camping with a bunch of people. It was really great (in retrospect—of course while we were camping it was a standard camping trip: dust, heat, exhausted kids, exhausted parents, weird social situations, etc–but all the memories are great of course. That’s the whole point, right?). Despite it being great, I had a level of social anxiety beforehand, some social anxiety while I was there, and some residual anxiety even now.
Next week we are doing our annual cabin weekend with my dad, stepmom, step sister and her kids. I am looking forward to it, but also feeling social anxiety about being with my stepmom for that long and parenting my kids in front of everybody. So that’s the social anxiety piece.
I am a person who needs routine. During the school year the routine is fairly straightforward. Get up, get the older kids to school, get home, do whatever I am doing that morning (downtime, meal prep, gardening or going to moms group). I go to work in the afternoon, get home, do bedtime routine and go to sleep. In the summer the routine changes. I still work in the afternoon, but the mornings and evenings are wonky. Kids are staying up later, but not necessarily sleeping in. One week they have swim lessons in the morning, the next week they don’t. One kid had theatre camp for a few weeks in the afternoon. My oldest daughter had plans to go to church camp next week, but that fell through and the church has changed the schedule a few times, so I don’t know what the routine will be like next week. And of course, I need to get organized for that cabin weekend. It’s stupidly overwhelming.
And when I am already overwhelmed with “reasonable things,” it’s super easy for other random little things to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”: Realizing I have hairs on my face that need to be plucked, having the low fuel light come on in the car…
I’m having trouble eating a balanced diet. I get to work and realize I am SO hungry. But it’s hard to eat at home in the morning, because of the routine thing. And the heat. I figured this out two days ago, so the last two days I brought a balanced snack to work, which helps.
To deal with the anxiety (and some tooth pain) I’ve been smoking pot every night. Usually I smoke a few days and then take a week off and I am happy with that pot-smoking routine, but I’m been smoking almost daily, and the Cherry Pie strain in particular might be messing with my head a little bit. The 15-year-old in me just wants to get high and listen to music all day long. I wonder if I did that for an entire day, if the desire would go away, but just doing that for an hour at a time hasn’t quenched the desire.
In any case, last night I listened to my favorite track ever, Counting Crows’ “A Murder of One” from August and Everything After Live At Town Hall. Adam is so passionate with the line, “You don’t wanna waste your life and I don’t wanna waste my life…” It got in my head. And then later I listened to Cat Steven’s “If You Want to Sing Out.” And it got in my head, “If you want to sing out, sing out and if you want to be free be free, there’s a million things to be…” And this morning, out of my routine with no kids activities, I was making pancakes and watching CNN’s The Sixties, an episode about civil rights. And I thought, “I cannot go through another Martin Luther King Day at my office full of ignorant Republicans, who don’t see that the civil rights movement is real, necessary and it is every bit as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.”
Bitterly, I updated my resume and submitted a job application to the local university. This is something I’ve thought I should do for a while, but I haven’t gotten back to it. So today, angrily, in the midst of some self-loathing and angst, I submitted my application. I don’t know that I even want that job, I’m just so fucking tired of my job and my poverty and I feel like I need to take more responsibility to change.
Looking on the bright side in the mist of this anxiety attack:
- The kids have not to my knowledge heard me say, “Jesus Fuck.” which is my new go-to expletive. Not proud of it. Yep, it is particularly ugly. Glad I have enough of a filter intact to only utter it under my breath or in the garage alone.
- I’ve witnessed the kids and I acknowledging each other respectfully today. You know, respectful acknowledgements such as, “Thank you for getting your swim stuff ready to go,” and (my 13 year old to my 4 year old) “You are a beautiful person, because you are generous and kind.”
- When the phone rang at work, my phone voice took over and I handled calls as a good customer service rep, as if I felt sane.