This is going to be kind of a jumble, fair warning.
1. I have been struggling with finding the line where it is appropriate to See Someone about my anxiety issues, which seem to be…increasing? Or if not increasing in severity, at least popping up more frequently? Something?
2. The standard threshold seems to be “interferes with your daily life.” Well. What does that mean?
3. I leave the house, keep a job, etc, so we are not remotely at that level of “interference.”
4. I have had two bona fide panic attacks in 9 months (which are exactly like being “fucked in the heart”—thanks, Mr. Hardwick). I did not pee myself or run off the train or do anything embarrassing. I just did not enjoy the experience, at all.
5. (However, do we really deserve to enjoy all of our experiences? Really? Everybody goes through shit, and we can’t knee-jerkingly medicate or CBT all the shit away, right?)
6. I have subtle “interference,” I guess. I think about terrible things and then I can’t not think about them. It gets worse at night, for some reason. It comes in several flavors:
6a. Imagining the deaths of loved ones.
6b. Hypochondriac stuff. I had a headache the other night that would not go away and I had to force myself not to get out of bed and Google “brain aneurysm symptoms.” I am also very scared of my Mystery Vomit Convulsive Illness returning, so every little normal-digestive-gurgle freaks me out.
6c. Hypochondriac stuff naturally leads to imagining my own death, and thinking about how badly Nora would take it, and that makes me cry.
6d. Regular old “the world is terrible and humans are fucked” worries, such as wondering if this will still be a livable planet when Nora is an adult. (Magic 8-Ball says: Outlook Not So Good!)
6e. Ridiculous, terrifying, awful nightmares. I’m talking “present-at-my-own-autopsy” level of awful. I wake up and know it was a dream and yet do not feel better.
7. Please remember that each of those number-6 subsets comes with a healthy dose of self-loathing about how fucking stupid I am being. Yay, more happy late-night thoughts!
8. I feel like some kind of 19th-century neurasthenic. I also feel guilty about the safe and easy life that allows me to have terror and anxiety over what is essentially nothing. Oh boo hoo, I worry about stuff that’s not going to happen. I’LL GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT.
The other day I committed some kind of tween-parent sin, and I don’t even remember what it was. Maybe I showed Nora a picture of herself, or said that she looked nice that day, or recounted a story of some cute thing she did as a baby. Whatever it was, Nora disapproved, and she said, “Ugh. Grimace.” I nearly fainted with linguistic delight. People have been saying the word “sigh” to convey resignation for years, but I can think of no out-loud facial-gesture signifiers in common parlance. Occasionally I have been known to type the words “frowny face” to mean, “If I were a different sort of writer, an emoticon would fit here.” But saying “grimace” takes this to a whole new level. I am so excited.
It will be the kid’s 10th birthday soon. A whole decade of this person! Double digits! We have been having a long birthday ramp-up, as this past weekend she and another girl had a “sleep-under” of sorts—Minecraft and snacks and whispering up in her room and me taking them both to the indoor ice rink for evening-time open skate, which pretty much means staying up until 10 PM oh how exciting. I skated a bit with them but I had forgotten how difficult it is. Strange things hurt the next day, like the bottoms of my feet and my armpits (the latter probably from flailing my arms around for balance). I did not fall, though, and in fact my only near-wipe-out was when I tried to get a bit fancy on the turn and do that thing where you pick up your outside foot and cross it over the inside one. Yeah, not ready for that move. Journey was playing and I guess I felt slick and elegant there for a moment.
For Nora’s actual birthday there will be presents and dinner at her favorite Japanese place. I cannot wait to give her the raccoon skull I ordered on the internet. It was a very fun thing to order a raccoon skull from the comfort of my own desk. It was also fun to receive an email with the subject line “Your Purchase of an Extra-Large Raccoon Skull.” She was sort of dropping hints about a full taxidermied animal, but I am not sure I’m ready for that yet. The skull is an excellent first step.
—mimi smartypants gently took your skull for a ride.