My old friend, anxiety, came to visit yesterday. There’s no one reason for these visits, and I’ve stopped trying to figure a pattern. It may be weather, a new experience facing me, an extra sip of wine the night before—who knows? All my doctor says is “You’re not wired like most people.” I used to be ashamed of my anxiety and try to hide it, but these days I know that it’s the most common mental illness in our country, affecting some 40 million adults to varying degrees. Generalized anxiety disorder, which I think fits me, affects 6.8 million adults. No, I didn’t have panic attacks yesterday—though I’ve had my share of those—but I went through the day with a general sense of uneasiness, shaking hands, heart occasionally pounding, especially at one point when I felt dumped on by a lot of work having to do with the cousin in Canada I care for when I really had other things to get to.
I did everything on my schedule—took my car for repairs and came home in a loaner (that in itself enough to cause anxiety—driving an unfamiliar car), had a pleasant lunch with a good friend, picked Jacob up and sent him off to neighbors’ for a play date, and fixed dinner for four adults and Jacob—good food I might add (marinated pork tenderloin, twice baked potatoes, and salad). By evening, with a couple of glasses of wine, I was more relaxed.
But in a way an anxiety day is like a day with a migraine—the next day you have a hangover, a vague sense that the uneasiness is out there and might return. But once again, I functioned like a normal person (hey! In most respects I am)—went to the vet, the post office, and the grocery, exchanging happy banter with all I came in contact with.
When I wake in the morning with that vague sense all is not right with my world, my dog is my biggest comfort. My New York relatives years ago had a cat they named Anxiety; I wouldn’t say by any means my dog should be named Tranquility. She’s smart enough (half poodle, half border collie) but not calm enough to be a service dog—yesterday she tore through the house all evening because Jordan had brought their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Sophie thought the idea of playmates was wonderful; they on the other hand were appalled by her bold and blatant attempts to play (she weighs at least twice as much as they do and maybe more and is much more active).
But in the late evening and early morning, Sophie and I have little love sessions—we sit on the floor, she quiet and calm, and I pet her and talk to her and tell her how wonderful she is. She in turn gives me a few face licks or earnestly washes my hand. Those morning sessions kind of anchor me in the world and assure me that all is in its place.
It’s time for me to stay home a bit, get my bearings, and then leap back into the world. The good thing about anxiety—at least for me—is that it’s always a passing thing. In a day or so, I’ll wake up thinking what a wonderful world I live in.