Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That Rarest of Treasures?

For starters, let me say just this: I am on an internet connection so PAINFULLY slow that I have played four full games of solitaire (and won two) in the time it has taken this page to load. Every single page loads at about this same rate... on a good day. Some days, it's not even worth hitting the reload button ten times.

I was just laying in bed, sleepless so late now that my alarm clock will be going off in about five hours. I hate having to get up at 3AM.

There has been some psychological weirdness going on at my end of things, and yesterday I made an appointment for August 20th with the local Free Clinic's absolute SAINT of a volunteer psychiatrist. I realize now the extent to which I have anxiety issues, and they really came to smack me in the face this past weekend.

I damn near had a panic attack friday afternoon at work as I was told how many multiple extra dozens of donuts were needed for the following Saturday morning. Simple donuts. Freaking DONUTS! And I was creating more drama than a teenage girl whose boyfriend just dumped her for the cheerleading squad captain. I mean, I fell to a million little pieces. Dark Haired Girl came to visit me and drop off my phone that I left at her place, and her first words were "Oh my God, what's wrong?? Your face looks horrible!" I was in the thick of a totally inappropriate and uncalled-for "flight or fight" physical response.

Then Saturday, As I was headed to Liz's wedding (!!! Story to follow when I have more time) I found that even in a car with the air conditioning cranked at full blast, I was sweating buckets and wanting nothing more than to turn around, go home, and curl into a little ball. I was scared to death at the idea of being around so many people, whether familiar or not.

It became clear to me that my anxieties had become a major hindrance to my everyday functioning.

Then I had the lightbulb, epiphany, eureka revelation: My life is ruled by anxiety. Suddenly, I looked back on the last 25 of my 30 years, beginning with the shy kindergartner and elementary school student who would rather bum around in the corner of the playground or swing staring at the ground or sky rather than suffer the fear of having to try to play with the other kids. Then I moved on to high school, where I joined only two clubs, both of which I quit because I couldn't handle the pressure and responsibility of belonging. And math class. OH MY GOD, math class.

The only reason I'm not a brain surgeon or subatomic particle physicist right now is the such horrible anxiety over math class, which triggered and exacerbated my ADD trips and complete lack of ability to focus over the frustration and fear of numbers, that I in my senior year couldn't even pass ALGEBRA amongst all the freshmen and sophomores who could.

I used to (and sometimes still do) get heart palpitations. Once in my sophomore year, my heart was flip-flopping so bad that I went to the emergency room and spent time in the hospital.

And my marriage! Fear, anxiety, fear, anxiety, fear, anxiety, fear and more anxiety. By the time I got out of that mess, beaten down worn thin as cellophane, it's a wonder I hadn't already suffered a heart attack.

I am a photographer. I take pictures. That's my chosen profession, and admitted obsession in life. Yet, I DREAD photo assignments. My first reaction to the proposition of a new gig is a huge surge of terror. Fight or Flight. I have to force myself to say yes, and while I'm there, I'm mentally hanging on by barely a thread. It's not a confidence issue. I know I'm good. But for some reason, I get this unchecked anxiety that causes a little mental breakdown, which causes more anxiety, thus snowballing into a total shit-storm in my head when I'm supposed to be the college trained and degreed professional. That's straight fucked up.

My entire life has been (and to a degree is still being) dictated by anxiety and fear. That's why I'm a thirty year old boy still living with his mother and working part time at Walmart with no workable career to speak of. I'm sick of it, the prodigious self-medication with alcohol, and I'm going to do something about it.

My social anxiety has caused me to drop contact like a hot potato with more dear friends than I dare count. You've no idea the guilt I've felt. Oh, the guilt. And remorse.

This blog is titled "In Search of That Rarest of Treasures". I never mentioned exactly what that rare treasure is because I've never really known. It's always been one of those situations where I've not been able to find any answers because I've not even known the question. I think I have a better idea now, and that treasure may just be those ever-so-fleeting moments of clarity where my mind is unfettered, and is free to shine like the sun, like it should.

Things will get better. Just bear with me.