Over the past several months the number of reasons my brain will find to experience acute Anxiety and panic attacks has been falling. Now, most of the occurrences are attached to actual stressors (e.g. trying to function in large crowd situations) rather than my brain simply deciding, “Hmmm, now just seems like a good time to panic.”
This has made me feel very good … like I am getting closer to normal.
Unfortunately, the reduction of reasons has not included one of my long-time Anxiety-anchors: that being that it is Sunday. My brain hates a good number of Sundays. (Great way to start a week, huh?)
Usually the ominous tension begins sometime around mid afternoon. Like an approaching electrical storm, I can often see Anxiety coming from miles away. Slowly the tension builds, then I often get enveloped by It. Left to Its own devices, It would last throughout the evening and likely invade my sleep.
So I do many things to prepare for and / or temper this time-sensitive Anxiety. First, I try to get any work done before It hits. Second, I figure out if there are any movies I want to see (to distract me). Third, I allow myself a prescribed chill pills if Anxiety looks like It will hit. Lastly, if I can find any mind-numbing, rote tasks to do (e.g. yard work, weeding the garden), I do them … again to distract my brain from exacting the violence it wants to hit me with.
Unfortunately, some Sundays pay no mind to my preparations and delay tactics. And on some Sundays, Anxiety will hit me early and without warning.
Today was one of those days.
At 9 am I realized I was pacing the house. My motor skills were stilted. And my speech patterns changed ever so slightly. I felt my muscles starting to tense up.
I knew immediately that special measures would be required to make anything of this Sunday. A voice inside me said: “Michael, today is going to suck. You get to decide if it will be a wasted day curled up in bed, or you can list a number of tasks that you can still do despite the Anxiety and associated pain (i.e. a brain that feels like a brick and and many nerve endings feeling like they are on fire). Either choice is acceptable.”
The wasted day would likely include a lot of time in bed watching Netflix or YouTube videos — the pain dampened by the distraction. But I would achieve nothing. The second choice would acknowledge Anxiety and pain while trying to preoccupy my brain with a list of things on the “Need to Do” list.
I chose the second option. Instructions, in order:
- Go work out. It’s good for me and will fatigue many of my muscles from feeling tension-related pain.
- Go to the Target Pharmacy. I need to get some med refills.
- Stop by Menards. Some buckets are on sale and will make great containers for growing peppers.
- Clean out my closet. I’ve lost some weight — get rid of my bigger boy clothes.
- Fill sixty-four seedling pots with soil and water them down (prep for planting tomato and pepper seedlings some time in the next week).
- Walk Franco.
- Write a blog post about your experience today.
- Get into bed early and watch a movie or two. You’ll have turned today into something, and you’ll deserve some entertainment while the chill pills make sleep possible.
The instructions were basically to put me on auto drive and tell my brain “You will accomplish something today no matter what your Anxiety-demon has in store.”
My exercise workout was a success; muscles adequately fatigued so as to keep the pain of a panic attack at a minimum.
Mistakenly feeling better about myself, I motored to Target only to find I called in the wrong meds. (An instant avalanche of Anxiety and Panic hit.) My stilted motions and slurred / garbled speech patterns returned immediately when the pharmacist informed me that they would have to call my doctor to fill the next prescription. I successfully pleaded for a few days of pills so life would be bearable until the full refill was possible.
I continued with my day and my instructions despite Anxiety’s constant whispering to me “You are an idiot, Michael. Why can’t you keep track of your meds? And, boy did you sound like a fool as you tried to mumble words to the pharmacist.”
Wiped out, I skipped the closet cleaning. I did, however, manage to walk Franco, fill seedling pots with soil, and write this post. It’s now 3:45 pm, about the time I usually begin to see the Sunday electrical storm of Anxiety approaching. I’ve gotten a lot done … so that’s good. But it also means the rest of my day is essentially shot.
The tension and the frayed nerves may hit if I don’t take that chill pill. So I do. I make my way to bed and wonder why some Sundays are harder than others. That is, I’m usually not in bed on Sundays until at least 6:30 pm. I know both 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm sound ridiculous, but that’s what allows me to fight off acute Anxiety / panic and start the week okay.
Netflix, here I come. May a good action flick preoccupy my brain before I get to call it a day.