There are nights when I sleep on a cloud of tranquility. But then are nights I toss and turn on a bed of anxious nails. Fear is the primal root that has kept us alive since before we could walk on two legs. For me right now that primal root center’s on my breathing. It seems lately that once I lay down, especially at night, I find it difficult to breath. And yes, given my medical history that may seem like a reasonable diagnosis. But after medical examination the root cause always points back to health anxiety.
Living with Panic Disorder is no walk in the park. It has affected my life and the life of my family since 1999. It has caused me to lose jobs, isolate myself, and cause my family to suffer. Thinking back to when panic first weighed on me I was in total paralysis. I couldn’t get out of bed, all I would hear at night were voices of doom and dread, and I carried such guilt for not providing for my family or myself. It took a good two years before I could get back to being reasonably functional. But even then the price I paid for that functionality was high.
Laying here in the middle of the night isn’t anything new to me. But the comfort I get from jotting down my confession is a welcomed relief. Knowing what the problem is isn’t worth a pound of cure unless you put in the effort to fix it. Who knows what I’m trying to say other than. We can complain and moan all we want about our given situation. Still it takes some effort on our part to get help. Fear is a heavy burden to bare. But don’t believe for a second you have to do it alone.
It’s too late in the afternoon to take a nap. Besides I know for a fact that I’ll be fixing supper tonight. So I’m laying here on the bed feeling a little out of whack. My left eye is still sore and my muscles are twitching ever so slightly, which more than anything it makes typing this a bit of a chore. Then on top of everything else my side and upper back are cramping. I know, I know I should stop complaining and think positive thoughts. But oftentimes pain is just that…pain. So despite my best efforts I’m hurting.
When dealing with health anxiety, no matter how much you recognize the signs of an attack. You can’t help but succumb to it’s effects from time to time. Just this morning one of my morning pills decided to linger in my throat. This can cause a considerable amount of discomfort down my throat and into my stomach. But if I hadn’t paid attention to what was happening, my mind would automatically gone to thinking it was chest pains. It’s an acknowledgment kinda thing. There are moments, like now, where I feel like a trapped animal with way to escape. It’s in these moments when I slip into acceptance mode and do my best to ride out the storm.
Often, at least for me, there’s no escaping bad decisions or poor judgement. But I like to think that my motives were good. So I do my damnest to trust that time and a little good karma will turn the tide. Acceptance of a situation often pulls the blinders from my eyes. Opening me up to new experiences and answers to the questions that are buried deep. Even now as I write this I feel a certain amount of peace. Knowing that most any situation can be overcome with acceptance, awareness, and understanding of what it is and who you are.
Well despite any common sense I may still have, I’m back outside. We just got back from my wife’s checkup at our doctor’s office. Once we got home Lisa went to the living to moan and piss about what the doctor said. I decided to say outside in the relative quiet the back yard. Wish I could say I feel really great but my sinuses are still giving me a fit especially around my eyes. But there ain’t no point in fussing about it too much considering the misery going on around the world.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the Taliban retaking the Afghan capital. Even though I am a bleeding heart liberal, that episode in American politics left a really bad taste in my mouth, considering the promises we made to our allies over there. It’s hard to think of other people’s pain when consumed with your own petty worries. The care and compassion we once carried seems to have dwindled with each passing year. Inside the house I get more and more self-absorbed with my own “whoa is me feelings”. That I forget to go outside and see the world painted with a broader brush.
Sitting in the shade of the late morning sun, it’s easy to forget about my own worries. To watch the clouds thousands of feet above my head. Seemingly worrying about nothing but existing and just being there. Over in the fig bush/tree I hear the squirrel neighbors fussing at their mockingbird neighbors about some minor detail in their neighborhood rules agreement. It reminds me a little about myself and the selfishness I often place on my caring. To truly understand how life works one has to think beyond self. If we’d all recognize that we are just as interconnected as we are different. Then the problems that we see as so massive wouldn’t be problems anymore.
Another Friday evening and the TV’s on but I’m not really watching it. I’m sure there’s plenty I could be watching, but I’d rather get lost in casual conversation on a comfy couch with friends. But that pleasure has been lost through the decades of friends and family I’ve lost. But in reality it’s nobody’s fault but my own that I sit here alone. Through hundreds of miles of isolation and the complete loss of my mental faculties, I’ve placed myself in this cocoon of self-preservation.
But the tears I cry have long since dried, through medication and scattered self-meditation to alleviate the pain I was put through. Jovial to a fault, I wear a pristinely polished mask without blemish or blame. Carefully concealing the scars and wounds I carry. I don’t mean to carry on in some sort of pity trap. For I learned long ago that such things only rust the hardened armor our parents embraced.
So I sit here in self-isolation only poking my head out to see if it’s safe. Sending out lines of encouragement like some much confetti at a hero’s parade. Only to watch it all get swept away like so much wasted time. But I carry on with a smile painted on my face. Never knowing when the weight of depression and blame will take over again. But confession is supposed to be good for the soul. So maybe this is the time to purge myself once again of the demons that steal my self-preservation.
It’s 5:20 in the afternoon. I just jumped out of a cold shower, if you want to call it that. The temperature is still in the mid-90’s with a heat index pushing close to 100°f. There is a decent breeze blowing out of southeast and it’s a little cloudy, but they are nice white puffy clouds. The squirrels and the mockingbirds are having a fit over on the fig bush/tree. I suppose they’re fighting over who gets the last of the sweet fruit on the top of the vines.
I’m just sitting here between the shade of the fig and sycamore tree. Swatting gnats and hearing what sounds like a tiller off running off in the distance. I’m trying not to sweat although the back of my left arm is getting damp laying on the arm of this plastic chair. Ain’t a lot dwelling on my mind lately. More than anything I’ve sort of been working on autopilot. Because if I get too deep into my thoughts I start depressing myself with the endless loops.
Each of us runs a set of scenarios through our heads. Those that can run on a loop of perpetual bliss maybe they’re able to run endless optimistic scenarios. But for the vast majority of us, we run out of happy endings and switch over to autopilot. Ignoring the consequences and simply dealing with the endless failures we see. Now I’m not going sit here and give some no nonsense work around for this kind of behavior. Instead I’m simply going to say that I understand. I understand the guilt and disappointment we place on ourselves. I suppose the hardest thing for me to overcome is the utter disappointment I place on myself when plans and hopes fall apart. I don’t know but maybe expectations are nothing more than a roll of the dice. Where chance and blind luck have to play their part.
You know, I’m a damn good actor. After 20+ years of hiding my depression and anxiety from the world. And another seven years of masking my heart failure and other ailments with a smile. Somewhere along the way I deserved an award in this game of life. But oftentimes the smiles and the laissez-faire attitude hide pure exhaustion. And right now the longer I lay here, the more exhausted I’m getting.
Today I had to make the 250+ mile round trip to see my cardio surgeon for what I suppose was a “meet and greet”. Because when I got there they didn’t seem to have a clue as to who I was or why I was there. Mind you I was pretty much expecting this anyway. My tract record with this particular medical practice has been spotty at best. But I believe the doctor is pretty good at what he does. I mean, my regular cardiologist recommended them. So with an ounce of patience hopefully we got our little impasse straightened out.
Considering my training as a Project Manager, I’m used to having to straighten out kinks in the old garden hose. And since this is something personal dealing with my health, I am the biggest stakeholder in this project. But often we let things slip through the cracks. We loose focus and attention through the little annoyances we experience and see. But I try and look past that, trying to take in the whole picture. But oftentimes in my desire to micromanage, I refuse to allow myself the rest I require. I suppose more than anything I want to tell you, vulnerability isn’t a failure, no more than the willingness to let go weakness. Surrounding yourself with a strong team, rather at work or with family. This is a sign of good leadership skills on your part, that will be carried on long after your gone.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.