Friday, May 17, 2013

Anxiety - (this post really has very little to do with MS)


  • an unpleasant state of inner turmoil
  • often accompanied by nervous behavior
  • subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over something unlikely to happen
  • unrealistic fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalized and unfocused
:::Thanks, wiki, for your spot on thoughts.:::

I've been anxious for as long as I can recall. 

:::I'm worried this monkey in the box will come to life:::

:::just like this one:::

I never knew it was anxiety, though. I mean, I thought everyone incessantly picked at their fingernail beds and worried about...everything. Most children read books with nursery rhymes, but my favorite literary work was one of those giant, hardcover medical books. And with each turn of the page, I was sure I had that illness...that symptom...and that prognosis. I still recall informing my mother, sometime around age 6 or so, that I had a kidney infection. In my tooth.

Hypochondriac, much?  Mmhmm. 

I'm here to tell you, some 34yrs after my self-diagnosed renal/dental...situation???...that anxiety has been a more annoying, more pervasive, and more noticeable 'uninvited guest' than MS. It's just that MS seems a lot easier to talk about. Or maybe that's just the anxiety talkin'...child of the 70' just don't talk about certain things and this is one of them. That's why there's no car magnet for it. If there's no car magnet, I don't think we talk about it.  #carmagnetpermission

I could go on about all those panic attacks that have woken me out of sound sleep, and the fun times that invisible elephant decided to perch itself upon my chest, and the exciting times I've nearly passed out from fear, and let's not forget those exhilarating times I've ended up in the ER with my heart pounding out of my chest. Actually, I think my favorite hospital story was the one where I was in for stomach ulcers. And they had to do an endoscopy. And I began to panic as they were putting me under anesthesia...and I reached out and grabbed the sleeve of the anesthetist...and started yelling (mumbling incoherently) for her not to leave me, because I didn't want to die via some strange allergic reaction to...and zzzzzzz...and...I woke up in some new "bracelets". Thankfully, the nurses in recovery realized I was really quite okay, just momentarily terrified, and immediately set me free. Then they got me some ginger ale. Ginger ale is important to my story, because this fear of medical stuff I occasionally experience isn't completely without merit. I did have a reaction to a medication immediately following the birth of my daughter. The lights went out on me...and didn't seem to come back on for a long while. I just remember the darkness, the commotion, the elephant, the commotion, the breath leaving me...intense pressure in my thigh as someone jabbed me with something.......the lights coming...back...on, the elephant getting lighter, and...eventually...ginger ale.

...but I think I said I wouldn't go into all of that ;-)

What I'd like to do is invite you to laugh with me. Because tonight was an anxious person's "you gotta be kiddin' me" night.  Allow me to explain:

Tonight, my kids had an event at school. A big event. With lots of people. And when there's an event with lots of people, especially people I love (like our school family), I hyperfocus on making sure I say hello, yet do not interrupt people's conversations + don't stand out/be noticed + don't trip and fall while hugging someone (ok, so that's MS-related).

Keep that in mind.

My grandmother attended the event, which was a huge blessing, but her mobility is such that she needed to sit in a very accessible place. Where was that place? Um. Just shy of the absolute middle of the gymnasium floor. Like this:

Just a short while into the presentation, my grandmother goes to the restroom. And doesn't come back. I was no longer able to focus on the beauty of the event, because my mind kept saying, "there are over 100 people staring at you, because you are in the middle. of. the. floor."  

I got up and moved. Oh em gee...they're all staring at me, because I'm moving from the middle of the floor to...oh, yes...they're probably wondering where I'm going, just like the giant token on the Price Is Right Plinko game. I chose an inconspicuous spot near the wall where no one would notice me. A place of solace from which I could enjoy the rest of the presentation. Ahhhhhh...serenity now :-)

The art teacher was up next. As she was making a heartfelt presentation of a student's award winning masterpiece, I realized that she was describing the piece that was...

Directly. Be. Hind. Me.

:::unintentional Dr Seuss feet:::

At that moment, my mind again said, "there are over 100 people staring at you".  But this time, it was absolutely true.

PANIC SET IN. Time and motion slowed down around me. My legs went weak. My heart began to pound out of my chest. I didn't know what to do and, obviously, the floor had not opened and swallowed me, as I'd hoped it would do. So I did what any anxiety-riddled, panic-stricken woman would do. I smiled and slowly maneuvered myself...right in front of a coworker?


My mind did this:

I then shuffled my feet the opposite way, thereby crossing the line of sight between approximately 100+ kind people (goodness gracious, that's a minimum of 200 eyes!) and the beautiful work of art they were trying their best to focus on. Sans me.

I passed it off by accessing * and re-enacting * a memory from the Price Is Right:

It worked. Humor always works. And now that it's been about 3 hours, my heart has settled down, the panic is over, and I'm pretty exhausted.

How do I cope with anxiety? Well, pretty much the same way I cope with MS. I try to focus on this:

I'm grateful that the Lord felt it necessary to speak about anxiety on several occasions throughout His Word. I'm grateful for the progress I've made from the playpen era to the 40yr-old-me era. I'm grateful for things that help refocus my heart and mind, such as prayer, the Word, and good tunes!

And I'm grateful for my family, because they keep me from taking myself way too seriously...

Be blessed, people!

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