I have anxiety. Sometimes it's the worst part of this deal, this ongoing battle with depression. It's like a fire, smoldering in the brain, something wrong with the wiring that doesn't shut down the apparatus--oh no, it keeps working, if anything it speeds up--but impedes its function, gives it more to do than can possibly be done. And it feels, if this makes any sense, like a mental burn. You can't forget it for a second; it's with you always, like acid on exposed nerve endings. After awhile, all you think about is relief. This is why people drink; it's why they do drugs.
So this morning I woke up and I felt it descend again, this constant companion of mine, and I was getting ready to go to the gym. I thought swimming would help; sometimes physical activity does help, sometimes exercise to the point of exhaustion is the only thing that will help. I was going to take my oldest daughter with me. We had the gym bag packed; she was downstairs, ready to go, and I was tidying up obsessively--making the bed, folding blankets, plumping pillows--because that is one of the things I do when I have this affliction; I feel the need to try to control every element of my environment, which of course I cannot do, but the more I fail the more I feel compelled to try, and no, don't ask me to color with you, or listen to this knock-knock joke, don't you see the linens must be folded?? But this time, for some reason, it was different. This time, something just snapped. I fell across the bed.
I cannot do this anymore, I thought.
That was it; for a moment, no other thought occurred. I rolled over on my side. My mind, which had stopped in the middle of its frantic busy-ness, began to pick up speed again, but slower. Fortunately, my husband and I had been watching the James Bond movie, "Casino Royale," on DVD the night before, and that intricate plot became my next obsession, taking my mind off myself for a moment. I began to worry it, working out nuances, making connections, turning it over and over and gnawing on it like a dog with an old pork chop. After awhile I became aware of the fact that I was getting cold, and I grabbed a blanket from the foot of the bed, covered myself, and lay down again. My mind slowed more. Outside I could hear the rain. I heard birds--at least three different kind of bird calls. I listened to the birds. I listened to the rain.
I said to the cosmos: Help.
All the time, I was expecting my daughter to come bursting in, or my husband to trek upstairs to ask what in the world had happened to me, but nobody came. The house was quiet. I lay there some more, and slowly the mental burn subsided, and my mind's white-hot activity slowed some more. The birds were talking to the sky, to each other, and I lay there and listened. After awhile, the rain picked up, and the drops fell faster and faster, and then, after some indeterminate period, I fell asleep.
And when I woke up, I felt--not healed, that was too much to expect, only fairy tales work that way--but more whole. Calm. I went downstairs, and my family was there, and my husband said, "I thought you needed to sleep." My oldest daughter said, "Mom! I made finger sandwiches!" and my six-year-old came up to me and put her arms around my waist and said, "Mommy, snuggle." And I said to the cosmos, Thank you.