Honestly, this past week has probably been one of the most anxiety ridden I’ve had since three years ago, when I wrote a post called Anxious Panda (if you visit the link, definitely read the fourth comment down from Jamie). It started mid-day Monday, with a general sense of spacey-foggy head, and turned into full blown panic Tuesday morning. Hyperventilation. Crying. Constant stream of thoughts ranging from “Oh my God” to “This is it.” Feeling trapped in my body, trapped in this space, feeling clenched, and unable to escape into a warming glow. There’s not a lot I can do in these situations besides pray (hey, I’m already saying “Oh my God…” maybe I have his attention), attempt to inhale and exhale (that bit gets tricky, fast), and try to find something comforting to latch onto.
The funny thing about panic attacks is what finally allows them to subside: first, the hope that they will go away, and second, the faith that if they don’t diminish, I’ll learn to live with the constant anxiety. Which I’m sure isn’t the most healthy of ways to live, but is the only way to get through the workday when all you can think about is how you’re going to die and how that death is unavoidable and that’s not the worst part – the worst part is you didn’t live the life you had hoped and that’s what sucks the most. The sickening feeling that you lost some invaluable entity and nothing is going to be the same.
Okay, didn’t mean to get all emo-goth-mortalitycore. All this is to say that usually, running is the one thing I have that keeps the anxiety at bay, even if it’s just for the duration of the run. Except this week, even running didn’t cut the mustard. Up hills I went, around the lake I went, and even with Snap Judgement ringing in my ears, I felt like I was being chased by myself. What a sight I must have been this week, tears streaming down my face, my heart rate cranked at 190, trying to get my breathing under control…sweaty beyond all reason from the stress and the exercise.
Which led to what happened this morning: my alarm went off at 6:45. And 6:54. And 7:03. And 7:12. And 7:21. And 7:30. And 7:41. And for the life of me, I could not un-velcro myself from my bed. I actually got up at 7:30, walked around my bed, and got back under my comforter, clutching my stuffed dolphin Betty. I tried to breath. I told myself to get up and run – I had new shoes after all, wouldn’t that be exciting? I told myself it would be okay to be late to work so long as I stayed late so long as I was late because I had run.
Okay self, I said. You have to get up even if you don’t run. You still have to go to work. I have this deep belief that if I can get to work, and make it through the day, I’m not as completely broken as I feel. This probably stemmed from watching Empire Records* a thousand times as a teenager, when Deb comes in late and AJ freaks out because clearly she’s not okay, and finally Lucas pulls AJ away and says, “She’s in the store, man. She’s safe.” The stirring came from my stomach, and I lurched out of bed for the second time, stumbling into my shower, curling up at the bottom of the tub in a little ball and thanking my lucky stars I unglued myself from my floral sheets (selected specifically to match the hideous wallpaper in my bathroom). And I got to work.
Some days, running, or even the mere thought of running, is not enough. Even in new running shoes.
So when that’s not enough, I turn to what was left in Pandora’s box: faith and hope (Yeah yeah, Pandora never mentioned faith. But lord knows it was there.) Hope that things are going to work out. That the next hour will be better. The next moment will be better. And faith in love, In goodness. Faith in fate. And that we’re all here for a reason.
And hope that tomorrow, I’ll get up and run.
*Empire Records = a song I love as sung by Renee Zellwenger, Sugar High. I should probably make this my go to karaoke song.