Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Name your anxiety

I don't know whether I am just weird like that, or whether it is the case for others as well, but for me, the key to overcoming an episode of anxiety is to name its source. The molasses day, for instance, got a lot more manageable once I figured out what was dragging me down. The day before I returned to work, way back this past winter-- that was one for the ages-- there were three different anxiety inducers, and it didn't get any better until I named all three. It's as if speaking its name gives me the power over the thing itself. Weird, sure, but I'll take it, I guess. I am not comfortable being anxious. I doubt anyone is, of course. For me, it's as if I can't find a place to sit inside myself. That, in itself, is incentive enough to do whatever I can to overcome the episode. Thus, knowing what I have to do is rather useful. Actually doing it often leaves me sadder than I started (well, duh!), sometimes even physically exhausted, but most of the time, no longer anxious.

There are times, though, when naming the genie doesn't put it back in the bottle, at least not right away. Today was one of those days. Today in the shower I briefly realized what day it was, but then mundane tasks of getting out the door took over, and that should've been that. But it wasn't. It started half way through the drive to work. It continued as I walked in and tried to settle down. It grew through a coffee meeting we all had with a visiting colleague. He was fascinating, there were many things to think about and discuss, but I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't even sit there calmly-- I kept fidgeting, looking at the clock, willing my brain to work, willing myself to figure it out. Which is when the realization from this morning made its triumphant return. It's a year. Exactly a year. A was conceived a year ago today.

Screwed-up red eye flight with a stopover, JD being late to pick me up (for a good reason, granted, but still), grumbling on the way home, making up, and making A. Someday I will fess up to the full extent of my weirdness, but that's not the point today. Today, I will just say that I knew then that this is the one, even though I wasn't to ovulate for another 36 hours or so. There were other opportunities that week, but I know that my son was conceived that day.

This one must be big, because understanding the source of today's anxiety didn't take it away until some time later-- past the hour mark that made it one year. I tried to stay in the meeting, but I couldn't. I ended up leaving before it was over. Ostensibly, to do work. But really, because I could not sit in ether my chair or my skin.


delphi said...

I really believe that our bodies have a sort of "sense memory" that is cyclical in nature - that those moments which define us will be marked each year at the same time, whether we intend for it to happen or not. It is part of what makes us more than just biology - our souls can be eternally marked by the experiences we face in our lives.

And I do find that naming the evil starts to ramp down the anxiety I feel. Once I know what is chasing me, I start to learn how to get away from it.

LeRoy Dissing said... appears that trauma really does stick with a person and make them more sensitive of time/events as your post testifies...glad you are sharing it!

kate said...

Yes, naming it sometimes helps me, too -- helps me kind of mentally process through it, so i am not so much at the mercy of it. Often it doesn't help entirely though...

niobe said...

Maybe I'm the weird one, because for me, finding the source of an axiety actually makes it worse. As long as it's inchoate, I can pretty much handle it. Once I've pinpointed it, I begin to obsess over it.

Bon said...

oh. the almost unspeakable weirdnesses of time and grief and recognition.

for well over a year after Finn's birth and death, i counted and marked dates with an automatic urgency, naming all the anxieties and perhaps - like Niobe mentioned happens for her - driving myself extra crazy by obsessing over what i could not control. it was magical thinking, of a sort...but necessary to me. i could not have done otherwise. it was, in a sense, my way of bearing witness.

today is a big marker in your journey with A. i wish you peace and remembrance, and want you to know that he's being thought of too.

slouching mom said...

oh. oof. i'm sorry. i'm glad at least that you were able to label it.

targeting the source of anxiety always helps me, too. i can't stand the feeling of butterflies and restlessness and unspecific ickiness.