Did I become sick because I was lacking balance in my life?
Or, did I feel so unbalanced because I was festering a cold?
Maybe it was Mercury Retrograde, or a full moon, or daylight savings, or the change in seasons that made me feel so overwhelmed and inept at life.
I went home from work early on one day, and then stayed home the entire day the next. Truthfully, I didn’t feel that sick. Sure I was stuffy and my throat was sore, but I could have powered through that. It was more the listless, nervy ache deep in my bones, and the total lack of energy to do anything other than beach myself on the couch and watch six episodes of House, MD.
You guys wanna laugh at something?
I actually had myself convinced that it wasn’t just a cold. The body aches made me terribly anxious. So, of course the logical progression of events was to assume I had pancreatic cancer.
That’s the thing about having an anxious brain.
And it’s also the thing about being/feeling unbalanced. It’s like walking on a ridiculously high balance beam. Plus you’re scared of heights so it gives you vertigo, in addition to just the usual trying to move forward on a narrow rail.
You make these leaps that are really awkward and unseemly and terrifying. It’s terrifying first because you think you are literally dying and you try to imagine saying your goodbyes to everyone, and then it is terrifying because you can’t believe your brain would do that to you.
That’s also where watching a marathon of House, MD is not such a great plan. (But! But, Hugh Laurie! His blue eyes totally ease the pain!)
So, we all have a good laugh about what an anxious freak I am. Because, really, what else can we do?
It helps to sit on the couch and chant, It’s just a virus. It helps to remind myself that there is no history of cancer in my incredibly healthy family, and that I am young and fit (sort of not really) and that it’s just a virus.
The moment passes, and we look back and laugh at it.
But the truth is that it is hard and exhausting and yes, terrifying, to live inside an anxious brain. Most people just don’t get it, and that makes the anxiety feel worse because I feel like I stick out like an Umpah Loompah with bright orange skin and bright green hair and flashing, neon signs pointing at me that says, “Hey, look at this freak.”
It takes a lot of effort to own my anxiety and to stand up a bit straighter (when I really just want to give into gravity and fall the fuck down), and be mindful and present and here and fucking now.
Can you believe that some people are actually just in the moment without having to expend all their energy being there? I find it really hard to believe. And I don’t really know what it is like, because my brain is usually racing around like a frightened mouse, scampering here and there trying to guess at and then approximate what is really real.
Thankfully, I can usually get to Pancreatic Cancer Is Not Your Reality in a relatively discreet amount of time, without too much noticeable flailing around on the balance beam.
Then I stand there, muscles clenched, and slowly let out my breath. Sometimes I take a very confident step forward. Sometimes I just stand there and catch my breath. But not for long because then the kids come home and just because I’m not feeling well doesn’t mean dinner and baths don’t still need to get made and taken.
That’s the thing about living in an anxious brain as a mom– I don’t always get the time and space I need to process what’s going on. Sometimes it just gets shoved down and shut away like socks in an overflowing drawer– not quite out of sight or out of mind. There is always something just beneath the surface, ready to spill out.
And don’t even get me started about how anxiety regarding my kids can take over even the worst fear of pancreatic cancer in less than an instant. Zombie apocalypse ain’t got nothin’ on the freaky crap wandering around in my brain. I mean it. Really. Don’t get me started on it.
I’m feeling better.
My sick/well time from work was worth it, despite the additional anxiety that using it causes.
It was just a virus.
I’m feeling better.