Two-day journey

Posted on April 10, 2008

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I’m on the recovering end of a difficult 48 hours. The past two days or so (mainly Monday and Tuesday) have jostled my bones. Because of a healing blend that Ty and I like to call “God + pills,” I don’t go into code red crisis mode too often (anymore). So this week has felt, whether objectively it was or not, tough. I believe God used the time to slow me down and show me a couple of things, things he probably would have shown me sooner if my daily avoidance tactics didn’t require a crisis mode to shut them down.

Chronological order. Set up: I’ve been stressed at work, which yes, yes, is an exotic affliction unique only to me, I know. Nevertheless, work’s sucked for quite a long time. In life, I’ve been stressed. Not knowing how to resolve these particular stressors results in an “there’s always a billion people who have it worse off than you” coping mechanism. It’s great for a temporary attitude adjustment, but the fact that the Sudanese and the Tibetans and war veterans and so many others have life worse doesn’t make my stress simply go away.

Fast-forward to Monday. We had gotten a memo at work about the vents or mold or whatever getting cleaned on our floor Sunday night. We’d been warned that we might want to work from home (smart co-workers did; I did not) because of the fumes or something. They’d done the same thing the previous Sunday night, with Monday resulting in a mysterious migraine and nausea. Power of suggestion, I thought. Then this past Monday afternoon, another migraine with stronger nausea came on, and I almost fainted at my desk. I’ve never almost-fainted before. I was slightly dizzy. Also, even more mysteriously, I started getting … crazy feeling. I didn’t understand it, but that’s how it felt. I later would realize it was the beginning of an anxiety thing grabbing hold. I have no idea how those symptoms materialized, and they were so strong that I couldn’t blame the power of suggestion (the cleaning came to my mind only once early in the day, then I forgot about it). I finished up what I was doing and left early. I texted my editor and told her I was for sure working from home Tuesday.

The latter part of Monday was hard. Same physical symptoms. Increasingly, the crazy part got worse. It got sickening and oppressive, to where the other parts didn’t matter anymore. I’ll stop calling it “crazy” now — I’m fairly certain it was some sort of anxiety, I guess, attack. I have depression (beautifully managed by God + pills), but I don’t experience anxiety, at least not on that level. If you had asked me what the matter was, or what I was freaking out about, I couldn’t have told you. These things have no root in logic. The mental/emotional fissure, however, was allowing a whole bunch of my stowed-away junk to surface. I didn’t want it to. Stuff from as early as six years ago to stuff that hasn’t happened yet, that I won’t go into here. Much unwanted weeping took place. You know it. The deep down kind, the polar opposite of the belly laughter you can’t stop. I prayed and prayed and prayed. The fact I hadn’t prayed like that in a while wasn’t lost on me. Which made me feel guilty, adding to my already-crazy condition.

I knew things were bad when I busted out the steno notebook. It’s the non-descript spiral I only write in about once a year or so, and only when in total despair. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. I hate to get all “the power of journaling” on you, but in the process God showed me the root of much of my current life-stress. As you might notice, when I DO write, it’s a novel. Writing kept me up til around 4:30 a.m. I was mad about that fact. But it offered revelation and detox, which is, apparently, what I needed.

It was awesome rolling out of bed and immediately sitting down at my laptop. That’s two hours of getting ready and commute swapped out for literally 2 minutes in order to begin my work day. I thought, Why don’t we do this more often? (Note to self: Talk to editor about that).

I woke up with classic cold symptoms, on top of raging nausea. The nausea either caused me a little anxiety or vice-versa, I don’t know. I scarfed some of my sister’s herbs for bad moods. The fact I could take a break from the rat race and work alone without constant office space drama for a day made a major difference in my recovery yesterday. I was thankful for it. And much more productive than an average Tuesday in the office, too.

I periodically read my Message-version Bible that was sitting by my laptop. I was in Ecclesiastes. When you think of parts of the Bible people typically read for comfort and assurance, Ecclesiastes wouldn’t be the first answer. I love the translation — the book’s running theme is “it’s all just smoke and spitting in the wind.” Essentially, all the things we normally dedicate our lives to, like making money, accumulating stuff, pleasing people, having babies, staying healthy, traditions, politics … it’s all meaningless. We all end up at the same place — dead. On its face, that’s depressing. But it very much wasn’t. It gave me comfort to know that someone thousands of years ago understood that truth. The solution made it even more worth while. Since you’re going to die anyway, just try to be a good person and seek out good times. Good times! That’s what I’m talking about. People with depression tend to view their connectedness to the world as much greater and more important than it actually is. It’s not. So just have fun. That’s liberating.

Still feeling … crazy? .. so I took a break. Took my yoga mat into the backyard with plans to stretch, breathe, pray and just be for 15 minutes. Being in the sun always cheers me up, but it was overcast. That was ok. The 15 minutes was wonderful. But I still had that inexplicable “thing” inside my chest and stomach, the anxiety, fear, confusion, darkness, whatever you want to call it.

My sister’s yard is spare save this faux-concrete miniature statue thing of a lion and lamb lying down by each other. She also has little matching stepping stones leading up to the statue with scripture on them. “Be still and know that I am God.” I know the verse like the back of my hand. But for some reason, I was transfixed. They’ve been in the yard for a long time but I’ve never paid much attention. I sat in the grass and stared at the verse for a while, trying to absorb it down to my bones. I touched the lion, which was gazing peacefully down at the lamb, and the patina rubbed off on my fingers. For whatever reason, touching it, stroking it made me … get it. I sat and just touched things for a little while: the lion, the lamb, blades of grass. It made me feel grounded.

I felt better. I took Mylanta for the nausea, and I felt even better (see? God and pills). I slept well. I had a dream that affirmed the message God had written inside me. But I’ll save that for another post.

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