Monday, March 16, 2009

How Do I Do It? The Worst Most Self-Indulgent and Shameful Blog Post Possible...

This is the pressing question, the one I've lately not been able to answer, not in theory, not in practice.

I'm having a damned hard time of it, juggling the little balls--I was never much of a juggler anyway--all through life I've pulled it off, sort of, but with plenty of rest stops along the way, to stare out my literal and figurative window, to regroup by inaction.

When in the past I've absolutely needed to, I could focus with laserlike intensity, to the exclusion of all the clamoring around and within me. In school, I'd pull off last-minute kamikaze operations that would turn out splendidly, but would involve late nights and chewing on coffee beans a la Charles Ryder in "Brideshead Revisited." Since Hedgehog came along, and even more lately, though she's gotten a life of her own but is much more sentient, in need of attention and conversation, I find myself flagging.

There is so much I want to do and need to do--for an eventual livelihood, dissertation, writing projects; for my own soul, knitting and reading and even this, writing little essays here for my blog, just to keep my writing hand in; and then the thousands of little chores and errands that run the household.

My days have become a rushing wild wind and a paralysis, all rolled into one barely contained ball of anxiety. Literally, the daily breakdown is: 80% frantic worrying but not doing, worrying to the point of anxiety attack, and 20% everything dull and necessary, the dishes and the laundry, making breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, seeing people off to work and school, bills, jockeying bits of money hither and yon to cover everything, then they come home again and need to be fed and talked to and loved and nurtured, and I am completely exhausted and unable to offer the sine qua non sort of stuff of life, to offer the things that my family needs and deserves just because I love them bottomlessly, and they are wonderful and offer me back a whole world that I can't live without. Sometimes, lately, I just don't have it in me though.

Today I walked Hedgie to school, and listened to her prattle happily about that and this, then returned home to see Sarge off, he could see I was already coming undone but had to go to work of course--and there I was, confronted by the hideous maw of computer--the Dissertation file whose very little icon makes me shudder with fear--and the blue binders full of notes and research and articles and scraps and bits of writing--but also the sink of breakfast dishes, the crumbs on the floor--and the phone calls to be made to my dear friends, who know I have a tendency to disappear into the ether for days at a time when I'm feeling like this, and I miss them but know I'll just start weeping piteously into the phone and what kind of conversation will that be? I really don't like to do that. I'd prefer to keep my extremis to myself, contained in the paces of the kitchen and livingroom--

I've always had a terrible, dreadful, anxiety, since I was very little, and lately it's flowing not ebbing, and the only thing I can do to hold myself together is to shut my mind down for long periods of time and wander around like a ghost, wringing my hands and tidying aimlessly--some of you have surely known bad anxiety, and you know what it's like--if not, it's impossible to describe, without sounding like a lunatic or worse, the demons that creep behind, and then as they gain power, which they always, always do, begin their flying and flapping about one's head, work their way inside one's brain--that's the worst--there's nothing worse, for me. All creativity and productivity is at a standstill. When I'm like this, I just go on autopilot and sort of hope, pray, it will pass and the world will settle back down and I can pick up my pen, my broom, the phone, the checkbook and begin again...

This post is awful, the literary equivalent of sinking back on an overstuffed divan, swooningly, praying someone will hold the smelling salts under my nose or at least pinch me back to myself, or maybe just call in the existential paramedics, or angels with soothing hands and good ideas...

Before a few weeks ago, Pippin was there doggishly, and the baleful look he cast my way, as I paced and hyperventilated, could be salubrious. But now he's gone, and my hamster, lord knows, offers nothing in the way of comfort. He doesn't even make eye contact!

I'm undone, beyond exhausted, and now this unfortunate post will testify to it, to the very worst, most overwrought, incompetent, self-indulgent parts of me, the parts I loathe.

But maybe it is like a crying jag. Icky, humiliating, and necessary. Once you've cried, and dried your eyes, the storm has passed, even if only temporarily.

Wish me luck, though. Or better yet, ignore this entirely...I think this may come under Rules of Blogging: Never Blog during an Anxiety Attack!


Jimmy Bastard said...

You do yourself a very great injustice Leah. I tend to speed-read other items of literature which fail to capture my interest.

With your posts it's different.
I find myself reading and re-reading paragraphs to unearth the many varied layers that make up the person that is Leah.

Self doubt comes to us all at some stage. It's part of life, and its my opinion that we subconsciously thrive on handling the stress.

Give yourself a break here, don't lose sight of the genius that you actually are.

"..some of you have surely known bad anxiety, and you know what it's like"

Indeed we do, and some of it has indeed been so harrowing that we look forward to reading posts from someone level headed who is set firmly on the path to success.

Have a glass of mint tea, and call me in the morning if the symptoms persist.

Leah said...

Okay, now I am tearing up, just a little...gosh, I thank you for your comment.

So, you think I should forgo my espresso for mint tea? You are wise, oh guru.

Brian Miller said...

"My days have become a rushing wild wind"

I can relate and you captured the emotions and feeling well, so thanks for sharing. I tend to look at it like bowling balls and marbles. Sometimes I get so focused on the marbles that my bowling balls never get the attention they need. Bowling balls being the things that are the heaviest and usually the most important.

Sometimes we just need to let it out, and in doing that refocus on what is truly important. Blessings today. Hope you find peace.

Sarah said...

I think its best to address the fears and anxieties. You write so eloquently, and despite your panic, you have a knack for expression. When I get panicked I am so all over the place that not a thought makes sense. The first thought doesn't end before the second one begins. But, what better place than here to express your fears and worries and anxieties?

Deep breaths, warm fresh air, walks in the sun, a strong cup of coffee or a mellow cup of tea, sitting by the water and watching it lap against the shore, a piece of chocolate cake or a pile of cookies, maybe one of those perfect NYC bagels...

Take it one breath at a time, and don't worry so much about what you are or aren't doing. You are right where you are meant to be and well on your way to where you want to be. Even if you don't feel that way. And keep writing, it does no good to keep it bottled up and unexpressed.


Jimmy Bastard said...

Espresso is the work of the divil himself!
Stick to the tea.. an altogether more civilised beverage for all occasions.

Use the tea as an example of life. Always be strong, and never cry over spilt milk. Sweetness is mandatory, and lemon sour is never a popular option.

You're gonnae be just fine hen.


so yer saying what then....

Anonymous said...

Oh Leah!!!

You are NOT alone!!! You just described the last year of my life. But, I have to say that this post reflects just how talented you are as a writer. To put all that anxiety, fear, doubt, and frantic worrying into a post that perfectly captures all of it is amazing.

I agree with Jimmy Bastard. Don't be so hard on yourself. You have more brilliance and talent in your pinky finger than most human beings on this planet. Each episode you survive makes you stronger and able to handle the next. I can attest to that.

I'm so glad you decided to post this and share with us your anxieties. It's cheap therapy and you may not know this, but you are helping us because we realize that if someone as amazing as you goes through this crap, then there's hope for all of us.

Just close your eyes and breathe. Have a glass of mint tea, like Jimmy said then go back to the insanity. When you need a break again, we'll be here with our own minds prattling away.

Hang in there!!!

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Jeeze, by the time I got to the end of your post I got nervous.

Chill out and lay off that coffee.
'Nuf said.

Auntie, aka cagny said...

Yes, I agree with jimmy B., tea drinking is good. But watch out, I find it can, well, make the pipes a little sluggish, if you know what I mean.

Baino said...

Breathe deep .. I used to have heart palpitations when I was stressed. Triggered by a death in the family and I was sure I was going to die but deep breathing exercises seem to work for me if I can find a quiet place. And don't worry about being self-indulgent, it's your blog, you're free to express yourself in any way you like. Sending you calming vibes from across the pond and yes . . I clean like a dervish when I'm upset

kylie said...

sending you a big hug and lots of love


MJ said...

Oh quit your bellyachin' and contribute to your Valium fund.

Didn't your Valium piggybank arrive in the mail yet?

And where is that Penis Book review you promised us?

There's ANOTHER think to add to your to-do list.

And you might want to knit CyberPete's glitter socks while you're at it.

Anonymous said...

My diss stares at me since 1991, the bastard (sorry Jimmy). Existentielle Angst can kill one, but before that you fall in state of catatonic shock, then the brain switches off.
What helps me is routine, structure, when I have to get things done, and f.e. face a deadline. That means no distractions in the morning: The kid is at school, the man is kicked out, there is the desk: Sit and write for two hours.
After that everything else is to follow. There will be enough time for killing the crumbs (sorry Robert), shouting at the hamster ("Look at me, bastard!" (sorry Jimmy)), and weaping and sobbing into the telephone. As my highly venerated prof always said: "Mago, you have to give me TEXT, before I can criticize your lousy scribble!"

And skip that TEA, it's devil's piss: Get a Hungarian coffe-machine and drink a manly brew.

Megan said...

I guess everybody has said whatever I would have.

Hang in there, Leah! Quit your pacing and start making some socks!



Anonymous said...

You are Russian?

Suzanne said...

You are Russian? Right!!!??? Damn that's too funny. Whoops, are you?!

Hi baby. Wow. You know I would have deleted this blog in what? 1 hour?!! I'm a sissy. You're a champ. Bravo. Like Jimmy, I read every word and then when Mago said "Skip the tea, it's devils piss," I couldn't stop laughing. I'm still laughing. Honey, that's just funny!

You know what? You're okay. You have a wonderful family and wonderful friends. Nothing's going to happen to you. You are safe and so surrounded by love and support that all you can do is embrace it. Open your arms honey. Open your heart. Open your eyes. Open your mind. We're all here and we absolutely adore you. We aren't going anywhere honey. We love you way too much.

I remember when I first experienced numbness and tingling and after seeing Dr. P you mentioned anxiety. NOT ME!!! How could that be??? I'm strong, capable, honest and true. How could that be? Well it was. It's just having too much on my plate and trying to do it all brilliantly. It's impossible to be perfect. It's an empty goal.

Through thick and thin you have never abandoned me. Never. I love you so very, very much and it is with so much hope I win pink socks over at the Wild Onion!!! (Yes, I'm trying to sway the vote! What?! If it's a freakin' writing contest I'm going to fail, so I'm just trying to mozy on up to you in the beginning in hopes you'll remember me at the end!)

Baby, I love you to death. The biggest hug ever. I know you aren't one for platitudes (yes, that's the biggest word I know), but the hell with it. I love you dearly and hope you feel better soon. I'm right here if you need me. You have my email and phone(s). I'm right here honey, and so are so many of your friends.

I love you baby. You're a remarkable woman.

CSI Seattle said...

You have had some great words of encouragement here. Just know that you are not alone, feeling the way you do. Sensory overload is a common one, and I believe that creative type A's place extraordinary demands on themselves.

So, you are creative and you care about your product. What do you do?

Your daily To-Do list seems rather long. Does it surprise you that you feel overwhelmed? A trimming may be in order.

Other than ridding yourself of the less than necessary demands of the day, I can only suggest the one thing I know to do when I feel like a boneless chicken:

After tapping the side of my head with my finger and announcing to my wife, "My brain is broken" (that's absolutely true), I force myself to exercise. Exercise tends to allow your body to pee out the bad stuff and gets the brain back in creative mode. I'll bet that some of your finest ideas and bursts of creative energy and renewal have come when you were exercising (often this happens in the shower, or while doing some other zen like task like knitting)

Coming from someone who spends a great deal of time standing on the edge of the abyss, not knowing which way to fall, I believe that I understand how you feel. The feelings suck, but they do pass.

The good news is that you have a huge fan base who support you and dare I say, love you? (In a professional blogging community kind of way of course)

I look forward to hearing about your euphoric return.

Mrsupole said...

Yes, just pee out the bad stuff. Oh my, there is a lot of support here, I cannot add more except to say keep peeing and peeing until it is all gone.

Go drink some chamomille tea, look at the mess and then just say "whatever" or "I'm working on it." These two lines work for just about everything. Anyway this was so wonderful that you let your feelings show. You have such a way to do this. A very special talent.

"Don't worry, be happy!"

Peace be with you.

God bless.

just bob said...

I think this may come under Rules of Blogging: Never Blog during an Anxiety Attack!

If that was a rule, I would never get to blog. It's weird, I was thinking of writing about the same topic.

Oh yeah, what CSI Seattle said.

Karen ^..^ said...

I can relate so well to this post, yet I've never been able to so beautifully articulate it as you have.

I've definitely blogged during anxiety phases. It helps, sometimes. I reread it, and gain a bit of perspective. I have to wait an hour or a day to reread, otherwise I get even more whipped up.

Having children definitely puts the other stuff down a notch, even as frustrating as that can be at times. They have to come first. I get my best writing done while no one's here. Work is done in a much more orderly fashion, and I can knock it out at my own pace, fevered or slow, and get it done satisfactorily.

You'll be fine. Give in to your moments where you need to relax and step away. If you need to veg on blogger or another online venue, do so.

Don't beat yourself up for your need to take it easy. Pressure won't help during those times.

I find that knitting helps me focus on things I need to do, as it forces me into a sort of lull, which is very akin to meditation, and helps me order my scattered thoughts. I can then put the knitting or crocheting aside a while, and do what needs to be done, in a much more composed way.

You really are doing great, you know? Give yourself some credit.

Mr. Shife said...

Well I certainly do wish you the best, and I know I have written a blog post or two when I was have a bad brain day. And try not to be so hard on yourself. I know it is difficult because we are usually are toughest critics but you are awesome. Hang in there and hope things are better today. Hope you have a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Suzanne said...

Checking in. I've been thinking about you since the wee hours of morn. I'm working on something for you on my blog, but I'm also trying to make corned beef and cabbage and complete my chores (and I don't even get an allowance!). Look for it later this afternoon (CA time). You don't have to comment, just look.

What beautiful comments and friends.

Love you (and not in a "...professional blogging community kind of way" like CSI suggests!!! That man cracks me up.),


Walker said...

You are one of those people who can swim through a hurrican and crawl out of a earthquack when others are screaming for help.
You take a beating and them get busy doing what needs to be done.
Its your strenth and what makes you stronger.

Leah said...

God, thank you so much. You all have no idea what this means to me. I guess it was self-indulgent to post like this, but so generous of you all to respond as you did.

Suzanne said...

Heggie and her friends are adorable and you have a way of telling a story beautifully. I think she might be boy crazy like Mama! Good luck with that!

I apologize. I didn’t get to post as promised yesterday because life got hectic, but will try in a bit after I load the dishwasher, continue with laundry and about a zillion other damn things. Take a peek again this afternoon. I hope today is kind to you.

Love you dear,
Suze XO

P.S. Thanks for the comment as always. He was a gem.

Lisa said...

Rest assured, you are not alone. Everyone, even if they don't admit to it, has suffered from anxiety. Some of us suffer from it more than others and when it happens we have learned how to process it and move forward.

I'm afraid that I must agree with Jimmy Bastard about how different your posts are. Most of the time, I read them and them come back later to read them again. Only after I have digested every detail do I feel I can comment.

Don't beat yourself up. We are given no more than we can handle, so the plan for you must be great if you feel this much passion for all that is laid on your path/plate.

Relax, drink some tea, and don't forget to breathe. Life is short. Enjoy the journey and don't forget to laugh....

PĂ©itseoga said...

i love your writing, even if it, like this post, brings back memories of trying to write my thesis, paralysed, doing anything but write. writing half a page and then deleting two! painting the study, that i didn't even use to write in, because i thought it might inspire me... i remember the time like a fog, but there was an end to it and i do have a degree now, just how i got there i'm not so sure...