I get anxiety. I’m not the only one, right? My dad has struggled with depression, his mom certainly had it too. I know a lot of this stuff is genetic. I wouldn’t say I get depressed. I don’t think that’s my issue. But anxiety? Yeah, that happens.
I had originally planned to spend my three day weekend either camping with some friends or heading up to Mt. Langley to try my first 14’000 foot summit. I scrapped the entire set of plans and instead treated myself to a staycation, my first in recent memory. On Saturday morning I went to my first ever yoga studio class and it was better than I could have imagined. I followed that up with an entire afternoon of gardening. Both activities drained me of any stress or tension I had. And that was the main reason I decided to stay home.
If I’ve learned anything about anxiety is that it doesn’t need any logical or proper motivation to grab ahold of you. It may need a trigger. Nothing so large as to actually make you want to solve the problem, just a trivial shake up to get the ball rolling. I had two on Saturday.
I wrote a few months back about camping and hiking alone and I mentioned how when I do any trip alone–hiking or driving or camping–I’m just fine during the day but when the sun begins to set my mind vibrates, my priorities shift and more than anything I want to be home around friends and family.
In the late afternoon I decided to save the asparagus fern that I’ve had for several years. In the last 18 months it had been forgotten, root bound in a broken plastic pot, most of its tendrils dried and withered but still sharp. But it’s a hearty plant, a weed if you really let it do what it wants. In watering it the last few weeks some green started to perk up. I unrooted the plant, took out a saw and cut off 80% of the roots, burying most of the plant under new soil, with just enough green poking out that it might still grow. I was triumphant. It was the climax to the day. (I’d never used a saw on roots before and if you haven’t may I please recommend ignoring a plant for two years so that it becomes so root bound that this procedure is needed.)
I lifted the roots into the air, heaved them over the fence (I didn’t even want to throw it away) and looked up to the sun and the sky to show off. But the sun wasn’t there anymore. It had creeped to the edge of the horizon. In another hour it would be gone.
The day was over. The night was coming. I didn’t have plans. I didn’t want plans. I didn’t want to do anything but this and now it was being taken away. I texted my friend, a girl, but she was out with some guy I don’t like and that text paired with the departing sun and I was suddenly lost.
My friend had a professor who called this the slippery brain syndrome. I’ve taken to calling it a treehouse riot. The world is reduced to the six inches in front of you. Your brain becomes a stirred up cocktail of fear and hope and love and heartbreak and you light it and bathe in the fire, indulging and commanding the pain in harmony.
If you’re good you’ve got a small little voice in there that can guide you out. Mine is pretty strong. Mine is the reason I wouldn’t call myself an alcoholic. Mine is the reason I don’t really do drugs. I have friends that aren’t as lucky. One once described his voice to me this way, “One voice says, ‘That drink was good, give me another.’ The other says, ‘That drinks is bad, give him another.’”
My voice guided me into the shower where I blasted the water on hot and I climbed in and huddled around my knees and let out my tears, hoping dearly that nobody was around to hear me. The water felt good and the tears felt good and I stayed there for a good 15 minutes. When I got out my eyes were red and my cheeks were puffy but looking at myself in the mirror I knew that I was okay. I’ve been developing a morning ritual in the last two weeks: make my bed, sweep the deck, shave. Looking at myself I realized I hadn’t shaved. It was 9:00 o’clock, well past the logical hour when anyone would do such a thing, but I shaved anyway. Then I poured myself a glass of wine, played some Dark Souls on my computer and smiled at the irony.
© 2013 Christopher Dart