For me, my anxiety is so physical, I can hardly uncurl from the fetal position. Even if I’m standing upright, inside, I am curled in on myself as much as possible. I am hidden inside my own body if that makes any sense.
Then Raven Lunatic pops up (my anxious alter ego – and don’t be offended by the name, humour and bad taste are key ingredients to my working through the sucky stuff) and she is calling the shots. In fact, I feel like I’ve been blindfolded and turned around and around and left in the woods to find my way out. The only trouble is, I can’t move my legs to even start. I watch from a distant as my alter ego skips out of the forest and wreaks havoc for a few days.
The havoc, I should mention, is not earth shattering, but it is painful for me. Let’s start at the beginning. Waking up is harrowing. Have you every woken up in a full blown panic attack? If you have, you know of what I speak. It is like an internal burglar alarm going off in your brain. There is indescribable panic that has you running for the bathroom to pee. Usually, I hit the door first, fall down and then scramble down the hall, all the while hoping no one else wakes up and notices.
I am filled with dread and coated in sweat. If my day begins like this, I have to spend the rest of the day in an internal battle with Raven to at least balance some of the control she has stolen from me. She sees herself as playful, I see her as a pain in the ass. She makes me question everything and wonder about everyone’s motives.
Is everyone I care about ok? Did I turn my flat iron off? What happens if the fire alarm goes off? Will I get a bill if it’s a false alarm? What if I run out of gas and can’t find my CAA card? What if the CAA guy abducts me? What if I go to yoga and get stuck in the lotus position and someone has to untangle me? What if I fall asleep and never wake up? Where does a person go when they dream? Will I stick with one decision when it comes to Rogers or Bell? Will my husband ever stop smoking even though he quit? I feel sick. My head hurts. Raven has total control when I’m in this state.
I am exhausted after a visit from Raven Lunatic and the trouble is, I never know how long she plans to stay. When I was younger, it wasn’t so much of a problem because I could self-medicate and actually enjoy her highly erratic vibe. Those days are long gone and I just don’t have the energy to fuel her. But she still comes and I have to manage. Her visits are further between, maybe she is starting to realize I am not the fun buddy I used to be. Maybe she will start just emailing every once in a while and not just show up on my doorstep whenever she feels like it.
Who knows? She is part of me, but taming her is getting a little easier the older I get. I may never be completely free or her, but I’m going to stop letting her leave me in the woods. It’s scary in there.