61 bottles of Klonopin on the wall
I awoke this morning in the midst of a sweaty panxiety attack. (No, that is not a typo.) I stared up at the ceiling, feeling like a plane was going to crash through the roof at any given moment. It is not a good feeling, especially when I couldn’t rationalize how completely ridiculous this scenario was at the time. Panic set in, then anxiety-induced paralysis. It’s difficult to jump out of bed, to avoid disaster, when you’ve turned into one of those stone figures from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Sixty-one days. I have 61 one days until the money well dries up. Take one down, pass it around, and by tomorrow I’ll be at 60 bottles of Klonopin, er, days on the wall.
Anyway, all I could think of, as the plane approached and before my brain turned to stone was this: If Morgan Spurlock could eat only McDonald’s for 30 days straight, effectively turning his liver into that of a 60-year-old alcoholic and thereby filming the brilliant Super Size Me, I can do something even more amazing in double that amount of time. Right?
It’s now afternoon, and the effects of my panxiety attack linger. I took medication, I went to acupuncture, I’m writing. Helpful, but not cures. See, here’s the cure: get off my ass, clean my house, figure out how to use up all my FSA funds before they go away on October 15th, refill every prescription I have and get every doctor’s appointment out of the way. Oh yeah, and find a job, build up my writing portfolio and figure out what the hell I want to be when I grow up. That kind of important shit.
But no, I’m a statue, afraid of my own shadow, my shortcomings, my bruised ego after being turned down for job after job. I feel like I should finish my Master’s degree – in snooty-ass Boston, an MA is “strongly preferred” or “required” in order to get some of the simplest copywriting jobs. Apparently my 15 years of experience counts for squat. I am tempted to send in a resume with these letters following my name: GAD, MDD. Wonder if I could fool the blue-bloods with my “degrees” in Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder?
Sarcasm aside, though, I’m suffering from paralysis by over-analysis. And I’m suffering from the idea that you need to buy a new car if you get a flat tire, or get an MA because some jobs require it. I can’t afford a new car, so I won’t drive at all. I am not going to get my MA, so I’ll stop job-hunting. Totally fucking ridiculous thoughts. Bah humbug to you, stupid anxiety.
Speaking of my dear friend anxiety, I’m on a library waiting list (since I refuse to pay for books anymore) for the newly published Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith. I’m addicted to his blog The Monkey Mind Chronicles. He makes me feel less alone in this battle against anxiety, and well, he’s self-deprecatingly funny and an adorable Jewish lad. Last Sunday, he wrote a piece for the the New York Times‘ ongoing series on anxiety. It’s called “The Anxious Idiot,” and believe me, I get it. My paralyzed neurotic self – the one who worries about everything, including obsessing about booking an aisle seat directly behind the emergency exit row of the airplane, checking to see if the oven is turned off at least 12 times before going to bed (even if I haven’t used the oven in days) and devising numerous plans for shimmying both my pets down the fire escape should my apartment catch on fire – is an anxious idiot as well. (Note what is missing from my list: finding job, cleaning apartment, etc. Those are the things I should be obsessing about.)
In his article, Daniel writes about how anxiety continues to persist in the afflicted because it is a habit of mind and that the path to recovery is to break that anxious pattern of thoughts. On his recent blog post discussing this article he says:
This one is about anxiety and habit; I argue that while anxiety might come on as an affliction/disorder, it continues because it is a habit of mind. Whatever else might help us feel better, recovery demands that we find some way to alter the damaging, insalubrious patterns of thought into which anxiety leads us. (“Lead” might actually be the wrong verb; it seizes us by the lapels and yells into our ears.)
Ding, ding, ding. “It seizes us by the lapels and yells into our ears.” That defines anxiety to a T. My anxiety – as I’ve described it before – is like Keebler Elves reside in my head and they NEVER EVER stop making cookies. Ever. They seize me by, maybe not my lapels, let’s say my cardigan, and yell and yell. That told me that a jet plane was going to crash into my bedroom this morning, and it never did. Damn little liars. And by the way, most of your cookies suck.
So here’s my plan, my path to recovery by changing my habit of mind: The next time those Keebler Elves tell me that a plane is going to crash through the roof or that my oven is going to blow up in the middle of the night because I left it on and now I have to carry a dog and cat down the fire escape, I’m going to picture their cookie baking ovens imploding and burning them all to a crisp. That ought to shut them up, at least for awhile.