My Life as an Experiment

Between My Ears

While the odds of this not containing humor are very, very low (you do know who you’re dealing with, right?), overall this isn’t that kind of post. Overall. Overalls. (…) Now I have ‘There was a farmer who had a dog and Bingo was his name-o’ running through my head. Just shoot me.

I am a walking bag of acronyms. MDD, LHON, PMDD, PTSD, blah blah blah. I swear, I almost get sick of me myself just looking at part of that list. Regardless, one thing that isn’t on the list (it’s not an acronym, but I’m sure my doctor will be attaching one to it soon) but which is probably a bigger issue for me than any of the others (except maybe LHON… the going blind thing is about the size of the Titanic, but I’m not yapping about that today), is…

Anxiety.

It doesn’t sound very threatening, does it? Mild mannered little word, bringing to mind the slight nervousness one gets before taking a test or something, nothing to write home about. For some of us, though, it’s nothing like that at all. It’s a bit more like the heart stopping terror that makes one’s skin flash cold as one skids across pavement straight toward the immobilized truck… the one carrying GASOLINE.

Okay, putting on my serious hat now.

Nothing in my life is small. Simple. Easy. Not in my head, anyway. Part of it is my depression, without question. No avoiding that. But in recent years it’s come to light that depression is only about 30% of what keeps me, for lack of a better word, crippled. Anxiety has it’s fingerprints all over the other 70%. When I say nothing is small, I mean this…

Imagine lying in bed. You’ve just woken up. Your brain slowly starts to hum, processing things slowly as you acclimate to your conscious environment. Maybe the little inner voice in your head (the normal ‘thinking your thinks’ voice, not ‘the men in straightjackets are coming for you’ voice) pipes up, quietly skimming along over a few things it’s now remembering are on your radar to do in the hours ahead. Maybe it’s instead pondering what may or may not be hiding in your refrigerator that is fit to be eaten. Maybe it’s deciding that the sheets you’re lying on should probably be washed before men in hazmat suits show up with those giant hoses. Maybe it notices you need to clip your toenails, since you’re not likely to need them to climb trees anytime soon. Whatever. You pick this thought or that, then another, as you will. Your brain is your friend.

Now me.

That voice in my head? It’s about as much my friend as a high dose of Bubonic Plague. The voice doesn’t talk. It SCREAMS. At like 78 rpm (which, sadly, is a reference which will go right over the heads of 87% of my reading audience. I’m officially old). And it doesn’t scream ONE of the aforementioned thoughts at a time… it’s all of them, all at once. Something small, like clipping said toenails, goes from a minor job for a minor body part, is no longer small… it is this huge, pressing, stressful thing, joined by every other thought that has become huge and pressing, until the inside of my head feels like a pressure cooker. And it’s not just the voice…

It’s the branches on the tree.

See, this is the second part of why anxiety largely keeps me in a paralytic state… no one thing <em>is</em> one thing. Not one. During a meltdown the other day, I tried to explain it to my significant other. Apparently I did an amazing job of it, but there’s a downside to that… I was communicating during a highly emotional state, and now that I’m no longer <em>in</em> that state? I can’t remember half of what I said. Figures. So I’ll try as best I can to recapture my moment of expressive clarity. Bear with me.

I have a little hobby. I make jewelry. Well, I occasionally assemble very simple jewelry bits… don’t go thinking I’m blowing glass or silversmithing or something. Anyway. I have more supplies and tools that is probably sane, considering I don’t sell shit… I essentially have very, very expensive dustcatchers. Anyway. Even starting to type this is making my skin almost itch. So, like I said, I have all these trays and tubs of supplies. Tools. Packaging. Unfinished projects. Blah blah fuckity blah. By most standards, I had them in relatively decent order, packed away in the upstairs storage closet until I got the urge to get them out again. The majority of people wouldn’t have seen the situation as a problem.

The majority of people would be wrong.

Here’s where the rollercoaster starts. Try and hang on, as it is going to sound like a bad acid trip for a bit.

My jewelry. I’d love to work on it. I would. But while I claimed it was neatly stored because I just hadn’t had the urge to work on it, it’s far more accurate to say that I was hiding from it. Even looking at the storage bins in the closet would make my insides knot up, and my brain would kick into overdrive (not like it’s often OUT of overdrive…)

Circling back to the ‘branches on the tree’ thing. Are you ready to throw up yet? The ride is just getting started…

Jewelry is the trunk of the tree, so to speak. One issue. Jewelry-making and the attendant supplies. One. Anxiety-brain does an amazing thing, though… the primary issue sprouts branches, faster than one can keep up with them or cut the goddamned things off. I’m going to do my best to transfer into text what the thoughts/feelings are in a single moment of JUST LOOKING AT my jewelry storage bins. Here comes the bad acid trip…

Fuck. I really need to get the trays in that bin organized. The sterling silver components need sorted, and all the eye pins and head pins, and the jump rings, and… damn, did I ever find that extension cord? I have to have the extension cord to plug in my magnifying lamp to be able to see to sort the small pieces. Fuck, does that bulb in that thing even work? The stickers are coming off all the little clear stackable compartments for the small Swarovski crystals… I need to get new stickers and redo all of those. Shit. Do I still have the inventory book with the pricing for all that? And I need to do the inventory listing for the new stuff I just bought, and find compartments for them. God, there are those three trays… Jesus, at least half a dozen, probably more, unfinished projects. *insert massive feelings of failure to overlay the frenetic brain activity here* I so suck. The trays are a mess, though. How am I going to finish those projects? I never did learn how to work the ends of the foxtail chains… I need to watch that tutorial. Might need to buy more tools. I should get better files, too. But I need to get… Jesus, there must be thousands… all these small silver pieces and components and crystals all need to be put away in the right places, or the projects finished, one of the two. But I can’t put them away until…

Go back to the beginning of that last paragraph. ‘Cause that’s where the circle starts all over again. And the really sad part? The onslaught of all that mess blasting in my brain is easily twice as bad as what I just wrote. EASILY. There’s simply no way to effectively write down EVERY branch in the short time and space I have right now. But it at least gives you an idea.

The best part? All this is done with the voice I mentioned back in the beginning. The screaming, frenetic voice. And it’s nearly instantaneous… all of the branches smacking me nearly at once, and all of them feeling like I can’t do ONE of them without having to do ALL of them, immediately. No such thing as a small thing… every thing is huge, and stressful, and sets off a clamoring in my head that brings to mind very, very angry Alvin (and his brothers Simon and Theodore), on crack and loaded with semi-automatic weapons. Everything, EVERY SINGLE THING, has to be done perfectly, and invariably brings it’s own branches, that ALSO have to be done PERFECTLY. It feels as if the world will end if I start to do something and don’t get it all done PERFECTLY. So what most people would see as a simple, non-pressing, no-big-deal thing of a few bins sitting in the back of the closet? Is the equivalent of Kryptonite for me. And it’s not just the jewelry. It’s EVERYTHING. Jesus, imagine what happens in my head when the issue is actually something IMPORTANT.

Anyhoo. Little gets done, most of the time, and I tend to hide under my rock a lot. Think about it… if it’s this bad AT HOME, can you imagine how it can get out in PUBLIC? Around actual PEOPLE?

Two words for you… ‘mushroom cloud’.

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