The Old Devils

I am so sorry about the impromptu break that I’ve taken here at the Reading Room. This has been an absolutely horrible week for me, health-wise. The severe anxiety that I thought I’d seen the back of a couple of years ago has staged a return. As ever, it caught me by surprise because I thought I was managing it quite well. I’d been experiencing some anxiety and was doing exercise, taking care of myself, eating healthily, and had gone for a reiki session. Never before have I left such a session feeling anything other than calm and peaceful and at one with the world. But even in the session I felt uncomfortable, hot and oh I don’t know, jangled in my nerves. When darkness fell later that afternoon, a tide of anxiety rose that turned into a white night battling the old ugly demons. I’m still trying to get back on an even keel from it.

I’ve been here before, of course, lots of times. But it doesn’t seem to make it any better. In the first place, it’s hard not to be crippled by disappointment. I can’t tell you how much I was loving life without feeling anxious. But hating anxiety seems only to make it stronger; it has an odd bullying quality of demanding to be heard. So, somehow it has to be heard, and yet not fed as it is already the expression of something excessive and unreasonable. I think it is about feeling trapped in a position of extreme vulnerability, although this post, which is the best account and advise about an anxiety relapse that I’ve come across, says that it doesn’t really matter what causes it; it will be some complex equation of a thousand small factors and figuring out the answer takes more energy than it’s worth. There’s something in that. When your heart is fluttering as wildly as a caged bird inside you, the first response is not necessarily to sit back and idly wonder why.

But the timing can’t be completely coincidental, as I had just begun my new writing routine that I’d looked forward to so much. Leaving the university has probably bitten deeper than I like to admit. Being an academic was a wonderful shield for me; I felt justified in existing, and it gave me a sense of value. I still feel a little exposed as… just me. It seems bizarre than anxiety should rob me of the confidence I need to simply move forward into a new life, and one I want very much. It is so paradoxical, so self-defeating. Yet I sit here telling my anxious heart that there is nothing to be done; this is where we are now. This is what is happening. I will of course wait until the changes have been accepted, but there is no alternative to accepting them.

Still, on the side of good news, my doctor has given me supplementary meds, to be used very sparingly. And I will – I know I will feel a great deal better if I can get through this on my own enterprise. And the great weapon against anxiety, the only thing far more powerful, is love. Mister Litlove is doing a very good job of making me feel loved at the moment, despite my flaws. What a treasure he is.

Back with the books as soon as I quieten and tame my bolting mind.