Archives for category: Anxiety

Snow is falling. I don’t mind that; it’s pretty, and I’m comfortable at home. What I do mind are these tears. Oh, and the headache. The tinnitus. The crossness and fatigue that come of sleeping poorly. I mind all those things. “I’m doing my best.” It’s not “enough”.

I’ve lost my sense of enthusiasm even for something as innocent and delightful as a snowy winter afternoon.

I’ve lost my balance, and my way, and I’m as a hapless motorist in a blinding snow storm – drifting, then… stuck.

I’ve lost my perspective.

I’ve lost my sense of humor about all the maddening bullshit that has to do with caring for this meat suit until it finally rots around me.

…I’m just tired…

My Traveling Partner is annoyed with me. I’m not communicating well. I’m terse without realizing it. Apparently. I’m making a completely fucked up mess of the day in all but one respect; work. I’ve got this work in front of me. For now it keeps me anchored and aware that in some future moment maybe things won’t feel so utterly completely shit… I mean… “this too shall pass”… ? Right? I just need to stay focused on this spreadsheet for another couple hours…

…It’s surprisingly difficult to hold on to non-attachment when I need it most…

I’m angry with myself and disappointed. I don’t tell myself I’ve set the bar too high; I’ll myself that I’m fraud and a failure and a clown because I am not right now 100% of every inch of the woman I most want to be… in spite of this headache, and this fatigue, and this absolutely entirely fallible mortal and very human experience. It’s a moment. It’s not a great moment. It’s not a delightful moment. It’s not a moment I’m going to want to carry with me for a life time of recollection… but it’s part of my experience of being this particular human being. It has to be enough – and it has to be just another moment, one more step, one mile on a much longer journey. If I let it swamp me and become “everything”… yeah, then I definitely lose my way. 😦 Been there, too.

I take a breath. I let the tears fall. I watch the snow flakes coming down. I let the minutes pass without requiring anything more of them – or me.

The snow continues to fall. It’s beautiful. It’s cold out there. I stare past my monitor to the window and into the sky. That sky isn’t so blue right now. Weather versus climate. The pain in my neck is distracting in an unpleasant way…but it reminds me to turn my attention back to the work in front of me. Whatever. It’s something.

…Sometimes “something” has to be enough to hold onto. That’s okay. There will be a chance to begin again.

Today is already more than a little “off”. I’m sitting in my studio with tears in my eyes, feeling super aggravated, and faced with a clear loss of perspective and sense of humor. I feel ragged, and angry, and potentially exceedingly easy to piss off. I did not sleep well.

…Yesterday, early in the afternoon, I allowed myself the luxury of a 3rd cup of coffee – a half a cup, really, but I did so knowing afternoon coffees have the potential to disrupt my sleep. That coffee did get me through the rest of the work day, which was helpful. I commented to my Traveling Partner with a laugh that if it disrupted my sleep he could say “I told you so”, because we both know it is a concern for me. This morning… he did, and I struggled to accept that probably good-natured teasing graciously… partly because I’m tired and stupid and cross this morning, and partly because, subjectively, I don’t think that’s what disrupted my sleep, actually, because the experience felt very much like a specific other thing (that is also a known concern) was responsible for my lack of restful sleep. I wasn’t ready for the humor in things, at all. Now I’m cross with myself, fatigued and frustrated by it, and also having the experience of managing to have “set my partner up for failure” by encouraging him to approach me in a way that was frankly amusing in the moment I said it, but the timing resulting in doing so when I am not so easily able to appreciate the moment. Fucking hell.

Today? Already sucking. My partner is definitely trying his best to get things back to a positive and merry place. I try to cooperate with that heartfelt intention. Yesterday was hard. Hard on both of us. This morning, my subjective experience of self is fraught with the funhouse mirror effects of being very tired. It makes the work day a fucking pestilence on my consciousness, and I’d honestly just like to go back to bed, and maybe not see or interact with any human beings at all for … a few days. I’m feeling sort of “over” people in this present moment. It’s an experience fraught with misleading illusions and distortions of reality, and I don’t trust myself to manage my emotions skillfully, or maintain a comfortable, rational, balanced perspective moment-to-moment. Why would I just straight up admit that? Because that’s how I get from here to somewhere better. πŸ™‚

…This too shall pass. Generally, change is a constant I can count on, and this is just one moment. I mean… as moments go, it’s a fairly shit moment, for many values of “shit” and “moment”, but… considered through another lens… I’m employed, my wages cover our expenses, we’ve got indoor plumbing, potable drinking water, and a hot tub on the deck. My kitchen appliances match. The floors are comfortable under my feet. The house is a comfortable temperature, and the gas fireplace is a pleasant way to take off the chill on a cold morning. Small things matter. My desk is comfortable to work at. I’ve got a solid day of good work time ahead of me. Noodles for lunch are easy, tasty, and available. I’ve got another cup of coffee to look forward to. So… my “shit” day? Luxury for someone who doesn’t have such fortunate circumstances. It’s humbling.

I sip the cold last sips of my (fairly dreadful) cup of coffee feeling very aware of the juxtaposition of privilege and being in a crappy mood. I make a point to be real with myself. I remind myself (again) to be patient with the woman in the mirror – it may be that no one else will. I remind myself (again) to speak gently, to be kind, to be patient, and to “make room” for other experiences, and other people (well, at least one other person). My Traveling Partner steps into the room to share something with me. We converse pleasantly. He makes a cheerful joke that completely goes over my head. I am too fatigued for smart jokes or quick wit. lol It’s fine, though, and we both seem “calibrated” to the needs of the day, now…

…Still… this day is more than ideally challenging…

Do I need more coffee? Or do I just need to begin again?

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀

I’m sipping the last of my second cup of coffee. It’s a Friday; I might have a third, later. I’m in pain, mostly managing it. I’ve felt the tiniest bit “under the weather” since yesterday, as if fighting off a head cold. I feel… tired. Bone-deep fatigue unrelieved by a good night’s sleep. Rested – still tired. I struggle to fully engage routine tasks. I don’t feel wholly alert. I struggle to resist distractions.

I find myself becoming annoyed with myself over my “lack of motivation” at the end of what has been a ridiculously busy work week. My inner dialogue begins to become aggressive and adversarial, and a tad “punishing” and disrespectful. I could take time to try to sort out where all that garbage and mess comes from… or I can take the break I so clearly need, and do a good job of that, instead. I mean, clearly I learned this self-abusive unproductive bullshit somewhere, but those sorts of ugly relationship dynamics are not a regular part of my everyday life now. I can just “let all that go”, and make a point to willfully treat myself with more kindness and understanding. To embrace my own “Big 5″ relationship values – even in my relationship with myself.

I’ve got a long weekend coming up. I feel my shoulders relax when I think about spending time in the studio painting. As I imagine the moment, and anticipate the feeling of “treating myself” to that creative time, I feel my shoulders relax, and a smile begin at the edge of my mouth. I imagine hiking my new favorite local trail, again, and doing some sketches there, and returning to canvas and paint at home. I imagine sleeping in, and waking slowly. I imagine waffles for brunch, and little breakfast sausages, piping hot, fat crackling and popping in the pan. I imagine putting my feet up with a new book, and sipping a glass of sherry as twilight becomes nightfall. I imagine spending quiet time with my Traveling Partner, and long leisure hours discussing one plan or project or another. Rest and art and love seem like good things to spend the weekend on…

…I straighten my posture, and look over this spreadsheet, feeling just a bit less beat down, and ready to finish this week… One more way to begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee, and starting my work day. It’s pretty ordinary in most respects. The rain continues to fall. By itself, the fact of rain falling is insignificant on a winter morning in the Pacific Northwest. Rain falls. It’s a thing people know about. πŸ™‚ We are powerless to stop the rain falling. (I’m sure there’s a metaphor there, somewhere…)

It’s actually been raining, specifically here, where I am, for days. There are flood warnings. It’s a legitimate concern.

The “creek” beyond the retaining wall is generally just a trickle.

Rain. Floods. Storms. Weather exists. It comes and goes. I sip my coffee grateful that I’m not also dealing with a major power outage, as some colleagues just a few miles north happen to be, this morning.

…Few experiences define “feeling powerless” the way being without power can… I mean… for obvious reasons.

An anxious younger colleague reaches out for suggestions on coping with the lack of electricity. I share tips, practices, and perspective gained over years. Most of those are fairly practical, some of them are not helpful unless available in advance… still, it’s often helpful simply to “be there” for someone feeling anxious, so I did my best. πŸ™‚ Then, I found myself reflecting on my own general “preparedness” for such emergencies in life…

  1. Big bag of tea lights for lighting the darkness? Yep. I’ve got those.
  2. A supply of safe drinking water? Yep. Just in case.
  3. Non-perishable snacks and camping food that can be prepared without cooking (or just boiling water)? Definitely; I try to stay “ready to camp”.
  4. Some way to boil water safely? Yep. Jet-Boil is handy. There are others. (And it won’t matter, anyway, if there’s no fuel for that stove…)
  5. Adequate canned fuel for the camping stove. (I’ve got that, too.)
  6. A lighter can be very handy. I have a couple around. (Matches, too.)
  7. Something to do besides doomscrolling and feed-checking? Books, board games, decks of cards… yep. On hand, always. πŸ˜€ (And it’s a good thing, too, since batteries have a finite charge!)
  8. Back up power? This one is tricky… an assortment of power bricks, charged, are available, so we’re good for sufficient power to check email, make phone calls, and provide limited connectivity for a short while. Better than nothing. Having a small generator would be cool… that’s a very different level of preparedness, and I’m not there yet. lol

Now… all that is well and good and super helpful… but only if I can find it in the dark. Can I? Hmmm… generally, yes. We moved recently, though, and I realize when I think it over as a potential crisis scenario; I can’t find the camping food/gear in my head with the specificity I’d need to go directly to it in the darkness. I know it is “in the garage” – which is my Traveling Partner’s wood shop, also (and which has an ever-changing purpose-driven arrangement of tools and work space, by design). Daylight means I would not need to stress over this detail; I can just open the garage door and see what I’m doing… but if I had to find my Jet-Boil stove in the darkness? I don’t think I could, right now. It’s a small detail, but one that reminds me that moving in, for me, is a fairly lasting process of many weeks – and I’m not “there” yet. I can’t find everything in the dark, yet.

I sip my coffee and think about power, powerlessness, and feeling prepared for life, generally. I could do better, I can see that. πŸ™‚ I make some notes to myself.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€