Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Brighter Morning

Yep I use a wheelchair. Yep I have difficulty negotiating narrow aisle and choppy pavement. Yep I avoid gravel driveways and steep gradients. Yep. But even with this, there is nothing in my life that I face that is more debilitating than anxiety.

Anxiety is nothing more and nothing less than bone chilling fear. For me it is the anticipation of disaster. It infects my thoughts and my words. It destroys my focus. It changes how I breathe. It changes the colours of the world. It brings me low, the anticipation of disaster is, for me, even worse than disaster itself.

Yesterday, after teaching for a day, I had to go do something, attend a meeting, that caused me significant anxiety. For the weekend, I pushed thinking about it off, as if it was in the long ahead future. I went to bed on Sunday night knowing that it would happen the next day. I could feel nothing, anxiety eats all other emotion.

During teaching I was finding myself missing my place. I finally told the students that I had to deal with something causing me huge anxiety. They were human, they all knew what it was like, and therefore, they were kind. Once 'outed' my anxiety lost a bit of its power and I was able to muddle through to the end of the day.

It's the next day, I got through the meeting by a constant countdown in my mind, 'We'll be gone in an hour, in fifty minutes, in three quarters of an hour, in forty minutes. And then it was over. I'd survived. It was a bit of a drive home, but Joe who was stewing in fear too, had to drive and all I had to do was stare ahead. We didn't talk. We didn't play music. We didn't listen to traffic reports on the radio.

Finally when we were home.

The night before, when anxiety attacked, I imagined all but this. All but turning into the driveway, after another day, and going about our business. Anxiety had taken away the concept that life will go on. But it does.

Sometimes I think my wheelchair is smarter than me, when it sees a sidewalk curb, it looks for an entry point, a way in. It scours the length of the barrier looking for a curb cut, an entry point. Me, when my mind in jacked on anxiety it sees a curb and instead of moving along looking for a solution, it just gets closer and closer and closer until perspective is lost and the curb is huge.

Now that it's all over. Now that I've had a sleep uninterrupted by fear. I realize that my wheelchair gets me around, but man does anxiety really, really, reduce my mental mobility.



Anonymous said...

This was lovely. It came on day when perspective was lost to me, and anxiety and fear and sorrow had pulled out a dull knife and slowly eaten me alive. It made me feel not alone in the world, and turned on a small light of hope. Thank you VERY VERY much.

clairesmum said...

you give clear words to the experience of anxiety, which by its' very nature is usually indescribable and therefore hard to understand. having some understanding of anxiety - what it feels like, that it DOES pass - is the start of surviving it and perhaps gaining some control of it. Glad that today is a better day. Be well, Dave and Joe.

Shan said...

Hm, so true. 'Anxiety had taken away the concept that life would go on.' It's so funny how exactly right that is.

Anonymous said...

After three open heart surgerys, two heart attacks and a stroke some days pain causes me such an anxiety, because I dont know whether the pain is from something going wrong with my heart or just caused by my scars or my muscles tensing. The pain gets more and the fear gets more or vice versa until my whole thinking is filled with the thought about it. You are right, that is the time that "anxiety takes away the concept that life would go on!".

Foutunatly by now I know that I am allowed and even encouraged to call my doctor to ask about my pain. And sometimes after talking about it I feel better in an instant.

That happend to me today. So your post was in a very good time for me.

Everything else that is difficult or causing me anxiety in my life I can now approach active. So I am the one in charge of my destiny. That is what I learned from my chronic disease. The only thing I fear beside my pain now is the existential dreed given to me in my nightmares.

I am so glad you got through your anxiety and you get comfort by the people around you, Joe and even your wheelchair.

Sending you very positive and uplifting thoughts
Julia (from Germany)

FAB said...

I think anxiety is one of the worst experiences, even though I sometimes deal with horrible physical pain, anxiety is even worse than that. I'm glad you're home now and feeling better...thank you for sharing so openly Dave, as you always do.
Love to you and Joe,

Joyfulgirl said...

What a powerful post. The definition you gave of anxiety as: "Anxiety had taken away the concept that life will go on." really resonates. "But it does." seems such a simple message but so impossible to believe when you are gripped by anxiety. Thanks for your post and, as always, your honesty.