I continue to not be fine, and at the risk of sound like A Cliche and A Bore and also Supremely Self-Indulgent, I'll continue to keep writing about it. If that's ok.
Most of the time I try to shove the anxiety into the background, act like it's not there. But sometimes when it's quiet or it's early morning or late at night or I'm alone, I'll notice it, I'll focus on it, and so often over the last two weeks or so I'll zero in on it and wonder. What's it about this time? What have I done wrong? What wrong things am I thinking? What am I afraid of? What am I worried about? These thoughts aren't anything new, they're just the ways I've identified and managed this before. But it dawned on me the last couple days that I am taking medicine to combat this. I don't have to DO anything. I don't have to put myself through the third degree, I don't have to analyze anything, I don't have to fix anything. The meds are supposed to do that for me. It's a very weird feeling of relief.
If what I believe about this is really true, that I have jacked up brain chemistry and my body overreacts to regular ole stress and I am somehow genetically physically chemically inclined towards this, then I should give myself a break and just let the medicine do its work. It's hard, though. Perhaps I am also genetically physically chemically inclined towards self-reflection, introspection, wondering where I went wrong.
I was weeding my front yard today - it's taken me several weekends, but I think I've conquered it - and it felt really good. Hard work with instant results. It's easier to shove the anxiety aside when you're working. But of course I was thinking - I'm always thinking - and I just had this feeling (thought? picture? idea?) that Jesus was sad for me. Sort of in the same way my friends are sorry for me, although where they are helpless, Jesus is all powerful, all knowing.
I don't allow myself to think that way very often because, well, here is a timely example, as I am STILL not finished with my Hitler book: who should we feel sorry for? The girl with a great life with a bit of anxiety on the side, or the starving Russians or the Jews in concentration camps or the Londoners worried about bombings every night? In my version of the Pain Olympics, the goal is to lose as bad as possible. And then shame yourself for thinking your life is even a TINY bit hard.
But while I was weeding I DID feel that Jesus was sad for me. Or maybe, more like he didn't want this for me. It doesn't really change anything, but this feeling (thought? picture? idea?) was encouraging to me. Strengthening, even. This is not who I am. This is not who I'm supposed to be. I am separate from this.
Those of you who follow Anne Lamott on Twitter might have noticed her special brand of humbled, hippie, broken Christianity. I followed her because her encouragement on writing is like none other, but I find it's her encouragement about faith and eternal life that is really sinking into me. As I was weeding, another thought: life is eternal; anxiety is not.
Simplistic? Hokey? It feels real to me, though. Anxiety is not me, it will not follow me, it has no place in heaven.
I have a doctor appointment tomorrow. I am totally confused and bewildered as to why these meds aren't working. I don't have a lot of faith in some random doctor figuring me out after ten minutes in an exam room, but I have prayed about it and I have faith in my pharmacist friend who promises me that something will work and maybe I just need to increase my dose and I don't have a lot of options anyway, right?
If anything, anxiety sharpens my mind and points me towards God. Always. So much so that I've wondered why he allows me those months and years of feeling better. I think, maybe, because anxiety is not me, and because God is good.