Posted on 17 August 2017 by Michael Dahl

What would you tell a friend to do?

This is an unfortunate follow-up from this morning’s blog post.

Let me offer a two-sentence recap: This morning I had a longer bout with Anxiety than usual. Writing (and a bit of yoga) helped calm me down somewhat, so I could start my workday.

That accomplished, I successfully got a major project out of the way as well as several minor tasks.

However, as afternoon approached I felt Anxiety working its way back to my consciousness. Tasks became reasons for alarm; more project work became impossible as my brain began to feel hardened, not quite cement-like-feeling, but close. And then, the worst feeling of all hit: I felt as if every nerve in my body became frayed, buzzing, and in pain.

I decided to do something I haven’t done for a long time. I called a friend who has offered his help “anytime you need me.”

Thankfully, he answered his phone. I told him what was up with me at the moment, but then I asked him to tell me what’s been up in his life. While I was generally interested, I also wanted to see if just listening to someone else’s calm voice would bring me to another place. Perhaps it would have. But my friend didn’t let things go on that long – him just talking about himself, that is.

Instead he asked me the gem of a question: “Michael, what would you tell a friend to do in your situation?”

I answered, “Take care of yourself.  Go home.”

He soon followed up with something like, “You’re sick and in pain. Going home seems like just the thing to do.”

We talked a bit more.  He made sure I was going to be okay.  I, then, thanked him for his help and told him I’d soon be heading home.

As luck would have it, I found out my wife was headed home as well … to get ready for an evening appointment. We’d be able to walk home together.

I must admit, I don’t know how to explain today. I don’t know what triggered the Anxiety. I don’t know why It returned in the afternoon after what seemed a successful break. And unlike other times when this happens and I’m able to keep it somewhat private, right now I feel idiotic, less than, and ashamed.

Intellectually, I know those feelings aren’t warranted. The Anxiety sometimes is just really good at dragging me down.

I write this — about feeling idiotic, less than, and ashamed — not to give credit to the unwarranted feelings, but to acknowledge them as felt and show some solidarity with others who feel this way at times. It’s not you or who you are. It’s the mood disorder.

In fact, I can almost hear my therapist ask, “Aren’t there symptoms for this disease or that illness?”

Me: “Yes,” getting ready for her obvious next question.

“Well,” she’d ask, “why should this illness be any different? Its going to make you feel in pain sometimes, sometimes It’s going to drag you down with negative thoughts and feelings. But you know that’s not you.”

She’d then offer up some tactics I could use to lighten the blows of Anxiety and sometimes even be able to escape It’s grip.

Well, I’m home now, which means I’m just seconds away from my garden if I want it. And, I do. As gardening and writing are two of the best ways for me to rid my body of Anxiety, I’m going to switch gears. Writing done, I feel somewhat better. Let’s see what picking beans and tomatoes can do for me now.