So here’s the (first) thing: I’m freaking out inside (about my upcoming trip), but I’m trying not to freak out. I’m so excited I can barely stand it, but … if I let either of those two particular cats out of their respective bags, I won’t be able to function.
And I have to function. I have to be able to work. I have to be able to write. I have to be able to do normal, day to day stuff like laundry. And I have to be able to organize my shit and pack for the trip. Which, of course, loops me back around to freaking out.
Can I tell you that all this restraint is exhausting (and not have y’all think that I’m a whiny baby)?
Anxiety is real.
I may appear calm. I may speak quietly. I may smile.
Meanwhile, my heart’s beating a hundred miles an hour, I feel like I’m having hot flashes (and I’m of the age when some of them may be legitimate), I’m dizzy and feel like I might faint, and sometimes my extremities go numb. All of these reactions are the result of adrenalin release. Though I’m not actually experiencing anything that justifies fight or flight, my anxiety triggers the hormone cascade.
It also messes up healthy sleep, which means I’m perpetually tired.
Most of my effort centres on remaining clam. If I can prevent the cascade from happening in the first place, I’m good. So at the day job, I’m laser-focused until breaks and lunch and then I dive into one of the several novels I have on the go and I immerse myself in words.
I avoid talking about the trip, because that, in itself, can be a trigger. I can’t be rude, though, and once the topic comes up, I try to focus on the practical, the logical, the real. I’m not always successful. And once my anxiety kicks up, I can only ride it out, go for a walk to burn off some of the nervous energy, or focus on my breathing until my hands stop shaking.
An anxiety attack passes. That doesn’t mean it’s not hell while it lasts.
So, yeah. That’s the first weird mood thing going on.
The second is introspective weirdness.
I’ve written before that I used to dream vividly when I was young. I had nightmares and night terrors, somnambulism, and somniloquy (talking in your sleep). I’ve had out of body experiences, near death experiences, and other experiences of the universe that would be considered uncanny.
I’ve delved into meditation of various stripes, wicca, and European shamanism.
From my mid-twenties into my mid-thirties, I was what I would call a seeker.
After all the reading and the research and the exploration, I ended up settling on the uncertain ground of the agnostic. My experience of the universe defied definition. I didn’t want to force-fit it into a category. I let it be what it is, tell me what it wanted to, and I’d respond accordingly.
The problem is, as I get older, I’ve heard, or felt, those universal nudges less and less. And I don’t know what the cause is.
Have I, like Susan Pevensie, outgrown my sense of wonder? Recent events have led me to believe that this is not the case. Am I close enough to where I need to be that I don’t need those universal nudges anymore? Possibly, but why do I feel so … lost, then? Have I shut down my intuitive side? Again, it’s possible, but how can I tell?
I’ve been working on the assumption that all of the uncanny stuff has channelled itself into my creativity. This part of my life continues to blossom, but it’s a flower in a private conservatory. What’s the point if no one gets to see it?
I guess that’s what everything comes down to. I know what it is I need to do, and I do it. I write. I study craft and literature and story of all kinds. My life revolves around that central principle, sometimes to an unhealthy extent.
To date, however, I haven’t been able to produce a lot of objective evidence of the work that I’ve done.
I know that the writing is its own intrinsic reward. I will still be writing for the rest of my life, regardless of what does, or does not happen. I just keep missing, or messing up, opportunities to get my words out there, or my efforts proceed without significant results.
They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The universe seems to be out of lessons. I need to find another way forward.
Maybe my big Baltic adventure will provide some answers.
In the meantime, I’m going to make the effort to remain open, to recognize a universal nudge if I get one, and to act on it accordingly.
There you have it: I suffer from mental illness (depression and anxiety), and I have an unorthodox view of the universe. Maybe one leads to the other? Or coaxes it along? Who’s to know? Unless the universe is interested in sharing … ?
I shall leave you on that ambiguous note.
This is my last weekend post until after Helsinki WorldCon.
I don’t know how active I’ll be on social media, though I’m sure I’ll be posting a scad of photos 🙂
As ever, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!