Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh Anxiety — whenever you’re near
High Anxiety — it’s you that I fear.
My heart’s afraid to fly, it’s crashed before
But then you take my hand, and my heart starts to soar
Once more … Key change!
Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh Anxiety — it’s always the same.
High Anxiety — it’s you that I blame.
It’s very clear to me, I’ve got to give in!
High Anxiety—(and remember, kids, be good to your folks – they’ve
been good to you)—youuuuuuuuuuuu winnnnnnnnnnn!
—Mel Brooks in 1977’s High Anxiety
Mel never again booked his hotel using Priceline.com.
I know that I said in my last entry that next would be information on the financials of my contract with the publisher, but I wanted to sit you down and tell you … well … your mother and I are breaking up. Wait, wrong speech. Ah! Here we go: A day or two before I announced my big book deal, I quite publicly alluded to a gut-wrenching anxiety attack that made me not only double over in pain but also to have some booze to help relieve me of my conscious thought. (I don’t drink much, which is why I was saying weird stuff on Facebook after half of a Bloody Mary.) Then, two days later, BAM! Big news, yay me—but whither that crippling attack? WTF was that all about?
First, a bit of background on Yours Truly. I have some chemical issues, thank goodnitch not bipolar but OCD (real, not “I like everything in my kitchen to be blue”), depression, and ANXIETY. Like extreme. Like, I almost flunked out of school several times because I was caught in the grip of some unnamable dread that felt like a stomach or digestive issue but was, in fact, a full-on dumping of adrenaline of a size comparable to Han Solo’s jettison of Jabba the Hut’s spice shipment. (Hat-tip to my fellow nerds.) Strangely, after I was safely not going to school, the pain subsided.
Remember that listing of 100+ jobs I posted a few weeks back? Well, MANY of those jobs were lost because of these crippling episodes. Jobs I LOVED I didn’t show up for because it felt, literally, like I was going into a den of lions, a pit of vipers, a parliament of owls. (Okay, that last one was just because I love that group name.) Bookstores, newspapers, radio DJ—all things I was really into doing but screwed up because of this amorphous but very intense fear that fisted me with an icy hand. (Wait—I mean … ah, hell with it, you get me.) Naturally, my parents were concerned about this, along with the onset of my OCD, which first manifested itself as making my throat make a particular raspy sound every time I breathed. (As I mention this, I can feel it wanting to happen right now. The fight never ends, but meds have been a good helper in my corner since 1997.)
I have been relatively stable on the work front for the past eight months or so because I have been able to work from home, doing SEO writing and teaching a class for the awesome SNHU Online. I frequently wear pajama pants all day like a BOSS. Recently, however, the fear has been grabbing me and making me sit at my desk, unable to do anything except feel the trapped-gas-esque pain. Anxiety!
You get me, Pictures In Boxes.
So during the past week I find myself getting “sick” again with dread and worry. I don’t have social anxiety—my poor and lovely wifey does—but I have what my therapist calls “anticipatory anxiety” and what my wife calls “borrowing trouble.” It started with my new publisher telling me they wanted all 10 books I had pitched to them, which was amazing and wonderful, right? Indeed, it was—but all of the books had to be delivered by the end of 2016, which is a lot of writing. Now, I love writing, especially when under deadline. That’s what they call “good stress,” the kind that comes with an exciting challenge. So from whence did the dread and horror arise? My anticipatory anxiety is such that I wasn’t fearing writing the books—I was fearing that the economy would collapse before I got them all in and I would not have this career as a novelist after all.
This is a problem with reading and writing Apocalyptic fiction (and nonfiction), I admit. Or it would be, if I didn’t find such stories empowering, since like most everybody else, I’m totally sure that I would be a zombie survivor or a giant-meteor survivor or what have you, free of society’s strictures and stuff. Of course, considering my blood sugar gets weirdly low when I skip my morning snack, I probably would be dead or zombified or somebody’s sex slave (ladies) within 48 hours. And my anticipatory issues aren’t limited to eschatological premonitions—no, I feel just as scared and suffer the same physical pain when I need to make a phone call (I HATE the phone.) It is a chemical issue, one that has been treated off and on over the years, but when I get it treated is when I have health insurance, meaning that it’s when I have an official “JOB job.” Anyway, maybe Obamacare will help me out. Who can say. But the point is that I had anxiety over something most people would see as bizarre. Actually, I find it bizarre as well, even as it’s happening to me.
Also, while I have what looks like a rosy future in fictioning, right now I literally don’t have February rent. I’m working as much as I can on the SEO stuff, but the anxiety keeps hitting me, making me work very slowly and intermittently when I can work at all. It’s a First World Problem, I completely admit, but it is quite the challenge. I’m on the cusp of so much and don’t know if I’ll be able to make it financially to get over it, at least that’s what my anxiety insists is the case.
Annie reminds me to use my breathing techniques and other cognitive behavioral tools, which help while I’m doing them, but BAM! As soon as I stop, it comes back. THIS is why I frequently cancel plans and hide. Not much fun.
Finally, something else fun that relates to the anxiety thing is that I am constantly reliving my failures, disappointments, and disappointing of others when the episodes strike. That’s why I took to Facebook (a wee bit tipsy) and was apologizing to everyone and hugging them, telling them “No, man—I LOVE you” and other weird behaviors. I hope you guys will forgive my oddness. When the anxiety abates, I feel like exactly what I am—the luckiest person I know, with a career now to go with my amazing wife and awesomesauce friends all over the world.
Okay, NOW next up will be the financial discussion. Excelsior!