Thursday, May 13, 2010

sit. stay.

                                     cemetery in Granby, MA

For the life of me, I cannot be still. I am just scared to death of allowing myself to be still.


I used to be on medication for anxiety. After consulting with my doctor, I began to taper off, and it's been several weeks now that I've been completely off the medication. I find lately that I have full, instant access to my emotions. What this means for me: I can jump to anger more quickly, I can sense anxiety coming on earlier (which means I'm more often feeling anxious), and since the serotonin is no longer flooding my body, I now have to rely on outside methods to feel happy. Sometimes I am frustrated by these changes.

On the other hand, because I am not quite so numbed to my emotions, I feel better equipped to examine these emotions with curiosity and with kindness. No longer do I greet an impending panic attack with thoughts of dread. I recognize the pattern, and I observe it, taking mental notes. Okay, this is the part where my hands get clammy. Check. I'm feeling a tingling in my stomach, and panic is shooting up through my core and out to my arms and hands and fingers. Next I'm going to feel like getting the hell out of there. Check. My breath is shallow, and my eyes flit back and forth, sensing some kind of horrifyingly embarrassing doom. And desperately, desperately wanting to escape.


Escape is no longer my chosen option. The fact that I'm even calling it an option, not just thisthingihavetodorightnow, is a miracle. Geneen Roth's mellifluous voice comes over the loudspeaker in my head: "What you're feeling now is the inclination to bolt." I hear you, Geneen. I hear you.


And so I don't bolt. Well, I don't always bolt. Sometimes bolting means skedaddling out of Borders because I can't concentrate on the history of American pewter while keeping the anxiety at bay. Sometimes bolting means flipping through websites for news tidbits, advice columns, body-positive blog posts, the Facebook photo album of my sister's friend's boyfriend's recent trip to Costa Rica. I bolt because I don't think I've got what it takes. I bolt because I don't know what's coming next, and the fear of the future eats up my insides. I bolt because I can't answer the question "What if I can't handle ______?"

I don't bolt because I'm trying to fill in the blank.

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