Before we left for the grocery store at 11:45AM Saturday Z had taken T to the farmers market, to the local fire station, came home for a bit, taken T back out to Lowes, and built a stand for our new rain barrel he got the night before for attending a rain barrel class run by the city. In the afternoon he took a well deserved nap, primed and painted the stand, played with T in our kiddie pool, threw a coat of shellack on a door he is restoring for upstairs, and worked on one of his many cigar box instrument projects. On Sunday he installed the rain barrel, wrangled all of us over to the flea market to pick out more supplies for his cigar box and canjo instruments, finished a banjo (cigar box autographed by Pete Seeger), started a resonator banjo for a friend, set up the grill for me to light later, and headed to work from 1-5. It is completely exhausting just to watch him.
He also comforted me as I was having a pretty severe and lengthy anxiety attack. During the drive home from the grocery store I curtly informed him that I would need to take a chill pill after I got C down for his nap. Z, “You say that like you think I’m going to fight with you. Hell, I think you should take four!…..With a fifth of vodka!” He really is excellent at making me laugh. Although I hate vodka, so that part was just ridiculous.
When I am doing well emotionally I can’t keep up with him. I like to nap and read and lounge on the sofa and watch movies even before my agoraphobic tendencies are taken into account. Despite my anxiety situation this weekend there was a major change, I didn’t completely shut down. Yes, I bailed on the farmer’s market. But I made it to the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, which is hellish even if you don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder. I even got it together enough to make dinner after trying to shake off my chill pill stupor. The anxiety still sucks, but at least I can roll my eyes about it while it is happening, which might not make the attack any less real, but it does make it a smidge less powerful.
Unfortunately the anxiety didn’t lessen much on Sunday. Z was at work and I was playing with the boys out back when my gut seized. I barely had time to scoop C out of the baby swing and run to the bathroom, T nipping at my heals. In the never ending yet futile quest for even a sliver of privacy I locked the bathroom door with just C and me inside. Have you ever had extremely painful diarrhea while trying to make sure an 11 month old doesn’t fall headfirst into the bathtub as an almost three year old pounds on the door begging to be let in? It reminded me of a horrible attack I had back when C was about a month old. I simply couldn’t get off the toilet. So I nursed him while sitting on it. And actually felt proud of myself for multitasking.
This is my life. It is gross and embarrassing and ridiculous. I’ve had enough therapy to know what my body reacts like it does. As a young girl I convinced myself I was worthless. Not just worthless, but repulsive. IBS is the way my anxiety convinces me I am right. It is the most awful and embarrassing thing my body could come up with. It’s my deepest darkest fear: I’m going to shit myself and everyone will see. It is a manifestation of complete lack of control. So I hide at home, paralyzed and frightened. My anxiety thinks it is protecting me from exposing myself to embarrassment by gifting me with the IBS–see! Now I have a valid excuse to never leave the house!
But I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to take my changes on living life. Maybe not to the extremes that Z lives it, but I want to participate more. It’s time to throw the tabs of imodium in my pocket and rock the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon. I need to be amused by the IBS. Because when I’m laughing at myself it takes my mind off my accelerated heart rate, light headedness, and nausea that are the other symptoms of my anxiety disorder. It keeps me in reality enough that I don’t wildly assume I’m having a heart attack. It keeps the dispair and terror at bay, makes me feel a little bit less worthless. So I have terrible IBS. So I have a severe anxiety disorder. So the fuck what? I’m not useless because of it.
Hey, I took a practice GRE exam online this morning. How is that for not useless? Of course I couldn’t figure out how to get my score. So, ok, I’m still a little bit of a mess. And for more confirmation that I’m a mess just check out my FB status update from this morning. Yes, I’m that dumb. But if I’m not going to let an anxiety disorder get in my way I’m sure as hell not going to let a little lack of common sense defeat me either!