This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have problems with anxiety.
No, really. I know I’ve had major anxiety episodes in the past, but in my head I had equated “anxiety” specifically with those actual, textbook panic attacks. I think there was even a paper bag involved, once.
It’s only recently that I’ve realized I’ve suffered from some significant anxiety this ENTIRE TIME – like, if I thought I’d been going from 0 – 10 to rate those attacks at a 6 or 7, but I’d actually been going from 5 – 14 the entire time – and I’m just starting to understand how and why I’ve been feeling so .. introspective lately. This is going to sound exactly how it sounds, but I’ve been figuring out the insanely buried truths behind some fundamental aspects of who I am, and it. is. fucked.
Two specific examples from the last 3 months sort of kicked this all off. I have had full-on sobbing in a heap ugly cries borderline hysterics that were really unusual even for me lately, and I’d been thinking about them: a) when my bloodwork came back from a routine checkup was so bad that I was sent to Every Specialist including a cardiologist and had to do multiple overnight tests and my upcoming echocardiogram, and when I received the letter from BC Health saying I qualified for an early COVID vaccine because I’m extremely clinically vulnerable. Both times, I melted the fuck down entirely. I sobbed so long and hard I gave myself the hiccups. I was a snotty, horrible, mess for hours. It sucked.
It wasn’t until I read this article that it dawned on me that my extreme reactions to potentially unsettling – like, not even actually unsettling, but something that might turn out that way later – medical things isn’t just a run of the mill worried about the spectre of death sort of thing, but actual PTSD from my 2.5 Major Medical Issues in the last several years.
I know I pretend to be a smart person, but I am really quite dumb. The article and existence of medical trauma make perfect sense to me, but I legit thought I was having some sort of psychotic break. I was scared by and of my reaction, which was to a reaction in the first place, so this was like Inception-levels of meta brain shit.
That stunned epiphany has actually changed how I handle these things. I can tell when I’m about to lose my shit, and either calm myself down knowing that I am not actually this scared, or warn Ed I’m about to erupt in a totally non-pornographic way and to please help me cope.
It’s not always successful, of course. Right now, I’m worried and anxious af because I’ve had NO reaction to the second Pfizer dose I received on Friday afternoon. Everything I’ve heard from friends and internet strangers alike is that the first Pfizer dose is pretty mild but the second one knocks you on your ass. I didn’t have much of a reaction to my first dose, so I prepared for a thorough ass-knocking – like, did groceries, got my affairs in order (look, it’s a work in progress), made sure Ed had enough things to eat over the weekend, stored up an ample supply of Diet Coke and chicken noodle soup – and yet I’m fine. Went out yesterday afternoon, did a bunch of errands, made neighbourhood queso. Okay, maybe day two is the worst and I’ll really feel it tomorrow? So far today I’ve made blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast, cleaned out two kitchen cabinets and two drawers, ate some queso leftovers in my balconic oasis to the tune of a Broadway showstopper, wrote up some self-serving psychobabble, and made several smaller, less life-changing epiphanies about Greek yogurt and Tupperware lids. I’m supposed to be sick and miserable. Why am I not sick and miserable?!
What if I didn’t actually get the vaccine at all? What if I’m not actually protected from covid?
What if my slight headache and extreme weariness ARE my symptoms, and I’ve been having them all along?
That doesn’t seem right, as I’m not suffering all that much so I must have done something wrong and I’m still vulnerable.
.. and why am I worrying about whether I’m suffering enough to be deserving of the label of “having symptoms”, anyway? This is one of the reasons I also didn’t think I “deserved” to think I was suffering from PTSD, I’m just a stupid broken baby who can’t handle minor life stuff.
Yeah, it’s been an interesting few months.
Did I say interesting? I meant exhausting.
I honestly can’t tell if I’m just being good ol’ Insufferable Kimli, if this is a stereotypical stoner line of thinking, or if it’s a valid realization.
Up next: why I can’t watch TV, and why I hate sharing my age!