Scratches on the Hardwood … And a Good Ol’ Dose of Reality

Who would have thought something as simple as scratched hardwood floors would trigger a full-scale meltdown? And yet… it did.

I have shared in past entries that I have occasional panic attacks and am somewhat of a high-strung, high-anxiety being. I am a bit of a delicate, contradictory creature in that I often fully embrace life, grabbing onto adventure firmly with both hands… And yet, I am also plagued by excessive worry and bouts with anxiety.

For weeks leading up to my move, Lee had been telling me that I seemed so “calm” for someone who had recently quit her job (without having secured a new one) and was moving all of her worldy possessions into a new home. And you know what? I kind of agreed with his level of perplexedness on this one because “calm” is NOT a word that anyone would really ever use to describe me. But I was calm. I had been calm. Perfectly sane and calm.

Until Sunday night. That night, as I packed a duffel bag with a few items and enough clothes for one night, I began to have a good, old-fashioned anxiety attack. My heart was pounding, I was sick to my stomach and my mind was racing. And the odd thing was that I had no real reason for such an attack. I’d had a relaxing but productive week and was now going back to my old house to get the last remnants of my things, see my parents and return. Simple.

Monday morning as I woke… it was still there. And it has followed me throughout the last 48 hours. My mom, sensing my unessessary anxiety and worry tried to keep me grounded and focused, telling me that I didn’t have to rush back or finish by any strict amount of time so I ought to just slow down, stay one more day to get everything finished and chill out a little bit. It wasn’t as though I had a job to return to… just my fiance, yoga mat and more boxes to unpack. And all of those things would STILL be there the next day. 

It wasn’t until the landlord came in and pointed out some deep scratches on the hardwood floor made by my computer chair. See, another thing about me is that it takes VERY LITTLE… to make me feel guilty. MINUTIA. I can be made to feel like shit with so much as a minsinterpreted sideways glance.

And that was the last straw. Operation Meltdown had begun.

I called Lee who was only a little bit put out by the fact that this was ruining our dinner with President Obama. He was also a tad bit concerned about the sick children all over the world who probably wouldn’t make it through the night due to my decision to stay on another day to settle my affairs. And he was slightly disappointed that by my being gone another night he would be forced to watch Sports Center rather than Seinfeld all evening long. 

But then—as unexpectedly as the anxiety had arrived—it disappeared with my laughter at the absurdities of his “statements of concern.” All I needed, as it turns out, was a nice dose of REALITY to adjust my warped-and-freaked-out-for-no-good-reason perspective. And with a lot of help from some friends and parents, the house was cleaned and emptied… and I turned over the keys… anxiety-free.

Out of the Rabbit Hole

As the fog of slumber lifts and the reality of wakefulness settles upon me, it is there. A heavy stone—which may as well be a boulder—is pressing against my chest. The full weight of it constricting my breathing and creating a pain that radiates out into my limbs and up into my neck and head.

Putting my hand to my forehead I think: Not today. Please let’s not do this today. Yes, it is Monday, but that isn’t reason enough for this. Quickly I run down the bullet points of the day that lay in front of me and of the events of the week and evening prior… looking for any sign of trouble that might be to blame. But there is nothing there.

As I toss aside the blankets and set my feet upon the cold, hardwood floor my breathing quickens and my heart races. The bedspread doesn’t look quite right. The notion of making my bed like I do every morning without thought or consideration suddenly overwhelms me. I feel nauseated. Everything around me unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time, like walking down a hallway of funhouse mirrors.

Looks like I have fallen into the hole again and I have no choice but to climb back out.

For those of you fortunate enough to be unaware of what I am describing… allow me to introduce you to the adventure that is a panic attack. To help you gain a more accurate perspective, imagine Alice in Wonderland plus a sense of impending doom but minus the tea parties, talking critters and croquet—in other words—all of the disjointed creepiness and none of the fun.

As much as I want to fight it, I suppose this is one of those rare but “as needed” mornings that the prescription bottle clearly addresses. Like Alice in the rabbit’s hole, I follow the instructions of the container on the table. Hesitant and grateful all at once for the way this will transform me, I swallow the contents and grasp for my footing.