Monday, July 23, 2012

Anxiety: A Pain In the Ass-Frustrating-Bore

Yesterday I was sure I was dying for no less than three reasons, none of which actually made a hell of a lot of sense. I had severe stomach cramps, which I linked to the cantaloupe I'd eaten because wasn't there a listeria outbreak traced to cantaloupe last summer? And didn't a lot of people die? My mind then skittered over to the bug bites in the crook of my arm. They happened the night before and one of them developed a little white puss filled center during the day. I googled away, was certain it was a poisonous spider, bed bugs, and fleas at different times. My arm felt numb, my heart raced, my breathing was shallow depending on what symtoms I was reading about. Then T brought a stuffed elephant into the back yard where C and I were playing. My mom had purchased toy years ago for a coworker's infant. Shortly after she sent it to me my friend suddenly left the company and then experienced a devastating personal tragedy that just seems gross and exploitative to write about in any more detail. The elephant became cursed to me, but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it either. It moved from Brooklyn, to Providence, to Syracuse and I have no idea how T got his hands on it. Bile rose in my throat watching him play with it, I was seized with terror that he would be raised without a mother. And while my mind was ping ponging from one imagined crisis to the next I felt myself grow fatter and fatter and fatter.

I hate writing about this. I hate feeling it even more.

Since we've gotten back from vacation I've been pretty damn swell. There was one hiccup over the week of the 4th of July. Our friend Kevin and his amazing and lovely girlfriend were visiting and I had an "anxiety episode" surrounding going out for ice cream of all things. Not sure why it happened, although Kev is so close to us-introduced us, best man at wedding, lived with us for a time, seen us through some great times and terrible times-that I can be my most raw in front of him. I know if I freak out he'll still love me. But other than that uncomfortable evening (in which I rallied and we got the ice cream-which was magically delicious) I've been great. Over the last month I've taken 4 chill pills. Six months ago I was averaging 3 a week.  Slipping back into the anxiety after so long feels both familiar and foreign, which makes no sense. But then trying to make sense out of mental illness is a fucking joke.

The backsliding is going to happen. It just sucks. Feeling fat and ugly and useless sucks. Suddenly little things that I usually wouldn't let get to me have wormed their way into my brain. I'll obsess about an unflattering picture posted on facebook. I'll convince myself I'm the object of scorn and pity to everyone who knows me. My psyche is so fragile it can be bruised if someone looks at me wrong.

I want to just give up and give in. Cry all day and stuff my face with pie and cookies and expensive frozen coffee drinks I can't afford. Forget about writing on Mondays and Wednesdays, forget about coming up with a plan to go back to school. Disengage from life because it hurts too much to take part.

You see, my marriage really is not perfect. Twice over the last week Z has hurt me deeply. Both times were accidents. One time he was actually trying to be proactive and not hurt me, and it backfired. I know I'm a huge over-sharer, but I'm not going to go into detail about either situation-it isn't fair to him. Dude cannot be expected to be perfect. And it's not like I don't fuck up frequently. We are going to hurt each other, it's unavoidable. When I hurt him he doesn't spiral into unwellness and dispair. How unfair is it that he has to contend with the specter of an extended anxiety meltdown whenever he fucks up? He should not be punished for an unlimited period of time, thankfully he knows I'm not doing it on purpose. It's yet another reason to feel ashamed of myself. To question why he would want to be with someone who is so much fucking work.

Six or seven years ago I would have pulled away from life completely. Wouldn't leave the house, wouldn't talk to Z, wouldn't take phone calls from my family. That impulse is still there, but I am fighting it. I'm forcing myself to write. I'm having the hard conversations with Z. I'm mothering my sons. I'm doing laundry and making dinner. I will not let myself check out of this family. Even if I know things might get bad enough in my crazy brain that another breakdown is unavoidable I'm still going to try and beat it. Anxiety is a severe over-sensitivity to life. It does hurt too much to take part sometimes for those of us who suffer from it. But that over-sensitivity also makes the good stuff feel so incredible. I'm fighting for the good stuff.

Here's the good stuff.

Post s'more grown up good stuff.

The best stuff. 
I looked out the door and saw this yesterday. Turns out they were hiding from monsters. 

I don't want to miss any of this. I don't want my anxiety to trick me into thinking my life isn't wonderful. 


  1. Oh Karen, I know exactly what you are feeling! I will be doing so well, feeling so stable, and suddenly then the panic attacks and ocd thinking hits me again. I feel defeated. Like I am back to square-one, like no progress has been made. But that is not true; it is just distorted thinking. In reality, the fact that we can recognize our anxiety for what it is alone is proof we have made major progress. AND the knowledge that it is temporary, that it will pass -- that is one of the best tools we have!

    1. Sorry, forgot to sign it -- above post by Lauren H

    2. It is incredibly comforting to know that other folks with anxiety issues feel the same way, Lauren.

      Hope all is well with you, glad you are working on the hard stuff, too!

  2. Maybe you were just trying to emulate the Auntie at the start of one of the HP movies......

    1. Ha! We showed T Prisoner of Azkaban once and it was a huge mistake. Didn't think he'd be scared based on his reactions to the first two movies, but Marge "popping up" as he calls it freaked him out. He still talks about it and this happened in December...

  3. And while my mind was ping ponging from one imagined crisis to the next I felt myself grow fatter and fatter and fatter.


    Proving again that you maintain a razor-sharp and delicious sense of humor, even in the midst...

    As to: "To question why he would want to be with someone who is so much fucking work."

    Made me think, "Those are the only kinds of humans there are. Look high, look low, look far, look wide."

    You're in good company. I'm a lot of work, too. We all - human race - inescapably, are. If you find an exception to that rule, I definitely want a post about it. :)

    And remember (for what it's worth), that many (including strangers in Missouri) find the particular kind of "work" it takes to appreciate Karen Cordano...

    Quite A Pleasure.

    You can tell her I said so.

    And none of this means living with anxiety doesn't totally stink. Stink!!

    You can do it, whatever it is,

    Cathy in Missouri

    1. You are going to give me a big head! Thanks again for being kind enough to read.