There are times when the anxiety overwhelms. Pressure on my chest. Can’t breathe. A dysphoric and irrational sense of impending doom falls like a curtain, separating me from the rest of the world.
I need to move, to escape.
But I can’t.
Why? Why now?
It comes in phases. There are times when I fly through the day, a smile inside and out. I feel the joy. I am the joy.
And then? The darkness descends.
You aren’t good enough or smart enough. Someone is going to figure it out. Then everyone will know your secret. You don’t belong here.
I can’t focus. I type words that aren’t right and don’t make any sense. I cannot follow the conversations people try to have with me. My brain is paralyzed. No. My brain is in overdrive running from one imagined catastrophe to the next. I cannot sleep because I cannot make it stop.
“Doc, it’s like you know me. How do you understand it so well when I am not even sure how to describe everything?”
Because I am you.
Sometimes there is good reason for it, an event which serves as trigger. Like a supoena to testify in a patient’s lawsuit against an multi billion dollar international corporation. Sometimes there are dozens of good reasons for it. Being on call, stressful patients, behavior issues at school with my kids, extended family conflict, pressure from the suits, my virtual desktop at work is overflowing, the WordPress app reader is frizzing out again and I am missing posts, … Very often, though, there is no good reason at all.
It is then that the pill calls to me.
Die to live another day…
I keep a bottle with my name on it. Not to literally kill myself. Just to make life easier. Kill the anxiety. End the suffering. A pill a day to make the anxiety go away.
But I am a coward it turns out. I am not good at taking pills. I try to do other things. I take a hike in the woods. Being among the trees often helps. Instead, I get a bad case of poison ivy. I try attending an opera, but I can’t enjoy that because of the itching from the poison ivy. I buy a new skirt but it doesn’t fit because of the steroids for the poison ivy. I want to hug my kids…. hugs from my kids often helps… but good squeezes set off the itching again.
All I can do is laugh. There is nothing else left to do.
Suddenly I am rising up out of the abyss.