Thursday, October 20, 2005

yes, and mostly no

So after my sad/angry post yesterday you're all asking the $64 question: is she going to be cheerful today? The title is your answer. If you're not a glutton for boring punishments, you can feel free to keep reading. Last time I wrote about this, I had several people tell me they'd been there and they appreciated my honesty about it. This is for me, and for them, if it helps. The rest of you "sane folk" can keep moving, there's nothing to see here.

Hubster got home a little early to help with the mortgage stuff and to have more time for decision making, which was nice. The evening started out okay, and we accomplished some of the tasks for which I summoned the spirit of the Üœber Angry Wench. After we had almost everything set, something in me snapped, and I had a particularly malignant panic attack. I can now see that I'd had a couple before now, but they were usually tied to depression so they didn't seem like discreet entities and the feelings of anxiety that accompanied them were mild in comparison. This one was, indeed, a Thing Unto Itself. I once had a friend tell me that she dealt with them regularly and I have SO MUCH RESPECT for her and any of you out there who do battle with them. You give me hope.

K made an insightful comment: it was like the whole of these past two years caught up with me - all the stress of dealing with numerous big decisions and innumerable tiny ones turned me into this weeping, hyperventilating, terrified heap on the floor. I don't know why this had to turn into the year of mental health problems for me, but meticulously taking stock of recent events sheds some light:

1) Graduating college and leaving academia and structured studies behind (all I've known for four years and in a larger sense, 16 years)
2) Getting married, changing part of my identity to "wife," dropping my maiden name (hola, Identity Crisis, please take this excuse to slay me), learning to include another person in most of my life.
3) Finding an apartment when we moved to one state and living there in limbo because of K's job prospects for a mere six months.
4) Finding our current apartment in another state while K's job became something he enjoyed, but we still had no idea where to buy food or go to church.
5) Learning to make our marriage work while overcoming our specific set of relationship/personal problems and sorting true problems out from mere differences of opinion unlikely to change or need to, really.
6)Learning to do part of my job (again) since I hadn't worked in that capacity except briefly three years before.
7)Changing major job responsibilities three times.
8)Acquiring a pet and needing to care for her.
9)Finding and acquiring a new home to purchase. Sorting through sales pitches, information guides, contracts, and advice to make informed and wise decisions. (Approximately 800 this week)

The panic swept over me in an instant, so it's not as though I had these thought out and THEN I freaked. I guess it was the weight of trying to survive them all and still be "good" - to be a good wife, as well as a good person, as well as a good employee, as well as a good homebuyer as well as . . . . There was always some other way in which I could disappoint myself and my loved ones and I couldn't face it nor remove it from my mind's eye.

I kept asking K why no one would let me shut down. Why couldn't anyone realize I was over-extended? Why didn't anyone know I was broken? I guess many people believed the facade of competency I erected. More importantly, I think I was the most insistent on preventing a shut down. I couldn't think about not responding to a business call or NOT doing work all day, or whatever. I wanted to quit doing, utterly and totally for a period of time, anything that resembled the endless parade of tasks I now faced - but I couldn't let myself. That's where the panic of being paralyzed emotionally and mentally enters in. I started hyperventilating eventually, and MAN, is that an odd feeling. My face began to prickle and I found my otherwise anxious brain coolly observing that my face and head were appearing to open to the outside air, that I was literally becoming "unhinged." It was strangely calming to have this odd connection with my body. I knew that if my body could overrule my panic and shut down, I could too. So I did. And then I wanted chocolate.

Now "the craving of the chocolate" is a typical motif applied to women especially in the genres of advertising and television sitcom, but when I usually crave chocolate, I'm just noshing. Not particularly earth-shattering stuff here. But last night, though I could barely taste the semi-sweet chocolate chips when I began munching (because of the tears and the sinus congestion), I eventually was able to savor them, and they tasted like relief. I let myself stop thinking about health and nutrition and longterm affects of ONE thing in my recent life ONE time, and it felt like a revelation. When I think about my coping mechanisms and talk about them with loved ones, "control freak" doesn't usually come up. But I was acting like a textbook control freak - trying to balance my new roles, identities, and responsibilitiess without any mistakes of over-indulgence, or insensitivity, or delays on projects, or problems with my husband. I drank two glasses of milk and ate a handful of chocolate and listened to my husband tell me I would overcome this, all of it. And I finally let myself believe him.


Mair said...

Prayer for Quiet Confidence...

"O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quiteness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spririt lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

guacemily said...

Oh E- I know the feeling. The thought of having a baby and then trying to find a mortgage/house all at the same time, has tipped me slightly over the edge... Good luck fella. Just think- in a few years it will all be a diiiissstant memory... (I hope. :)