This is going to be a different kind of post. It’s a little personal…but a blog is personal to begin with, and it’s driven by personal experience. This is not a cry for help, it’s just throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. Balls out, as Spouse of Frank would say.
Truth is, I haven’t been blogging about food lately because I haven’t been feeling so good, on a lot of different levels. And when I have multi-layered un-feeling-goodness, food ceases to be interesting and I tend not to eat much. I’ll pause for the eye-rolling. Yeah. Sorry. Some of us are like that. My dad and my brother get this way too. When the shit is going down or the stress is going up, we get real gaunt in the face.
Anyway, the funny thing is that I usually buy a ticket to Cabo Angst in August. August is a really whacko month for me; I don’t know if the “Dog Days” are a true phenomenon and it has something to do with extreme heat, but I swear I spend the entire month in a disengaged, existential fog of looking at my life, contemplating life, worrying about everything and interested in nothing. I can’t get out of my own head and as if my own worries weren’t enough, I’m like an emotional sponge, sucking up everyone else’s as well. I’m a functioning lunatic.
But here’s the funny part: I didn’t go to Cabo Angst this August. August, if y’all remember, were the days of the strike. High stress? Oh you bet. But there was none of that fog, that awful heaviness in my head and muddiness to my thoughts. I was stressed and tired and angry and emotional…I was also dialed in, connected, engaged and working hard. After it ended I thought the bottom would fall out from under me. It didn’t. August was left behind, into the fall I went, there I went and there I was…
So over Christmas I came down with some kind of bug. A tapestry virus, if you will: a little cough, a little low-grade fever, a little stomach upset, a little headache…and all of those things sewn together with one giant CHILL, this unbelievable chill that had me dressing in five layers and wearing fingerless gloves to bed, I only wish I were kidding. I could not get warm, I was so cold my skin hurt.
By the way, my personal anxiety looooooooooves when I’m cold. It ain’t warm in Cabo Angst, that’s for sure. So right in the midst of, or on the heels of this weird bug, comes a very decidedly August feeling. And the fog is descending by day. And the wolves are coming at night. I’m wandering around a lot, not feeling good, not engaged, not interested in much, edgy, anxious, off-kilter. And with what muddy thoughts I have, I spend them worrying about a lot of things both real (my kids, my job, my parents, money, Frank) and abstract (note to self – do not read anything Holocaust-related during these episodes, dumbass, and no, this is not a good time to start reading The Hunger Games). All the while feeling just so freaking petty. I mean, my God, what crisis can I claim here? I have a friend who is dealing with chemo; I know another friend who just lost her husband. What the hell is my white-whiny first-world “problem” in the grand scheme of things? I wish I could say this kind of thinking turns me around but unfortunately it doesn’t. It just makes me want to keep it to myself, and keep wandering around, feeling lost, feeling small, feeling sort of stuck in life and what is life really, oh would you just shut up, get a grip already, and…huh? “Oh, nothing, Panda, just talking to myself…”
And this too shall pass, it always does. All tickets to Cabo Angst are round-trip. How I feel now is not who I am, but this is where I am right now. In days of old, some women would take to their beds during these small declines. Those women had servants. I do not. Although I did spend a day and a half in bed over the break, break is now over and we’re back in the thick of it and I have to…I have to do. And I can. This is huge. Anxiety attacks used to paralyze me, the world had to stop while I dealt with them, or rather, while they ran me over like a Mack truck. It was a monumental breakthrough to realize that I could be anxious and still be a functioning human being. To say, “Wow, I feel like shit, I am so woogie right now…and I’m unloading the dishwasher at the same time.”
Another monumental breakthrough was learning to not retreat when the wolves came, but to go the opposite way, to reach out, to connect. Connection. Connection makes the world go round and if you want an absolutely brilliant discourse on that, check out this TED talk by Brene Brown:
I don’t want to feel these things. I’m going to go have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin….
Anxiety may love the cold, but it hates connection, it hates to be talked about. One of the quickest ways for me to break that downward spiral is to simply call someone. That person you can reach out to and say, “Wow, not feeling too good right now…” and just talk your way back to normalcy (or at least out talk your way of the nausea and shortness of breath). Of course, this tactic does not work so well at 3AM when the wolves come, in which case it’s half a clonopin and we’ll discuss this during daylight. Night night!
Gentle reader, my sincere wish for you is that you do have such a person, or even many such persons in your life. If you, too, take an occasional unwilling trip to Cabo Angst, please know you’re not alone, and feel free to use my timeshare. Because I’m not there all the time. And neither are you. Oh, and if there’s anything good to eat there, let me know, because I’m hungry but nothing tastes good.
I finished this post, read it through, wondered what in hell point I was trying to make and did I really want to put this all weird, personal shit out there? I felt better for writing it, but still…
And then right at that moment (I kid you not), I got an email from a friend. A new friend. Someone I’ve never actually met, but through comments on a mutual Facebook page we’ve discovered some shared passions and similar sense of humor, so now she is one of my circle. And she was in a low place, and emailing me to share something personal, which I will not share, but the thing that struck me was the closing sentence, which was along the lines of, “…not sure why I’m reaching out and telling you all this when we really don’t know each other that well, but I just felt like you, somehow, would understand.”
I mean WHOA. I stopped dead. Talk about a karmic moment. I looked at the email. Looked back at the post. I thought, “Nothing is an accident.”
And I hit “publish”.