Anxiety is like a circus

   Here I was, thinking for the last two or three months, that I had somehow managed to rein in my anxiety.  I don’t go out much.  After three years of avoiding my friends, some just finding the door out on their own and quickly, I lost just about all of my social ‘network.’  My husband, he’s great but before my stroke it was really hard to get him out.  He’s always been just your typical dude.  He likes video games, smoking pot and doing much of nothing.  It would take me days to convince him our son needed to get more than just ‘out of the house.’  He needed to actually be outside.  Yes, I think my husband is lazy.  I think he will always be lazy; a slacker, a self-titled and created loafer.  I love him, Lord help me, I do but I have always wished he desired just a tad more adventure.  Since the stroke, he’s become wholly content with the fact that my anxiety blows and is like a steely-spined chaperone that keeps me on a very short and very tight leash.  I think he’s relieved by it sometimes.
The problem is that when I was 19, I overcame my anxiety.  I have always had anxiety, been afraid of big crowds, people and excitement.  You feel it in your chest like a weight and your mind spins as it tries to find an escape out.  I never liked that feeling.  It made me abnormal.  While other teens rebelled by sneaking out and going to raves or bonfires or a house party, I was digging up excuses about why my awesomeness prevented me from attending any such event.  I was just…too afraid.  By 19 I grew so tired of it that I forced my way out and I eventually was not afraid to go to the corner store alone.  Then I was roaming the park alone.  Then I was at the mall.  Then I even started eating at restaurants alone.  These are all very big things and anyone with any experience with anxiety knows that these are not just difficult to do alone but seemingly impossible.  So imagine my dismay when at 27/28 I found myself, yet again, in a state of disarray at the very mention of the store.  Sweat puddling up in my pits, upon my brow and upper lip; my head swarming with phantom sounds of people laughing and talking while moving, shifting around me. The idea was nauseating at best.  I couldn’t even talk on the phone without a quickened heartbeat and sweaty palms.  It was very frustrating and heartbreaking to know what I had overcome as a ‘normal’ person only to find myself in not only a similar place but worse off and very much not a normal person.
Last year (2013), just before Thanksgiving, I started going back to physical therapy.  It had been two and a half years post stroke and I still rarely left the house.  I really needed the therapy, still do, so I managed to push myself out the door that first day with only mild heart palpitations.  I was so nervous and filled with anxiety that first visit, my eyes darting everywhere around the facility and my ears picking up every little sound, that it was difficult for me to walk; I was so overwhelmed.  My nerves, they are so sensitive and now they are so tied to my body without a link of direct communication that they reflect each other almost incoherently yet somehow still with acute fascimilation that can only be acheived through some form of language to translate (I have no other way to explain it than that).  My left body stiffens, my left face becomes tight and the right side of my head tingles.  But I push on knowing that giving in to the anxiety slowly trying to consume me would only hinder any prospect of future progress.  I had to get over this.  I kept going to therapy.  After a few weeks, I pumped up my frequency to 3x a week.  I was confident.  It was visible in the way I walked, the way I talked, the way my arm was more relaxed when I went to the store.  I really, really, thought that I was achieving more than regaining strength in my left body.
For a while, Kasper was pretty much doing everything after my stroke. He took the boys to the doctors appointments he made, he made my appointments and attended each one, he handled all of my important phone calls, he did the grocery shopping and took Skas to and from school.  Now that I was in therapy, I started doing those things and he was allowed to finally feel like he was his own person.  I am waking up earlier, I’m on a schedule, I am no longer feeling ‘sick’ or on the verge of being sick.  Then my therapy is put on hold…Medicare (need I say more?).
It’s only been 2 weeks but I feel like it’s been months.  I can feel my confidence melting away no matter how much exercising and workouts I do at home.  What’s worse? I may be getting free tickets for the four of us to go to the circus next Friday.  My youngest, Boonshka, his therapist offered us the tickets through their services.  That chunk of confidence that forgets I deal with anxiety, gladly accepted the offer and she is hoping to hold those tickets on Monday when her son’s Occupational therapist passes them along to us.  But the other Kt, the one that never forgets there is an ever-moving wave of emotions and nerves washing through her without rhythm, she hopes the tickets don’t arrive on Monday.  No matter how much the confident Kt wants to take her two boys to the circus for the first time, desolate and hopeless Kt with the fingers constantly rolling her proverbial pearls between them is hoping fate doesn’t allow her children the enjoyment of such an occassion.  That makes me a horrible mother and person!
I can’t help it, though.  And that scares me.  I was up for at least an hour after I went to bed at 2AM this morning.  I just keep wondering about the set-up.  How do disabled people go to these things?  Would it better to take my cane, wheelchair, nothing?  Should I just hold onto Kasper the whole time?  It would keep my left side more relaxed.  But then how would he carry Boonshka if it’s crowded?  Is there stairs?  What if the seats are like bleachers? I can’t get up there! I’ll get vertigo even if it’s somehow like arena seating where you can enter from different levels.  What if it’s crowded?  What if I have to pee while I’m there?  What if there are too many flashing lights and I have a seizure?  What if I embarrass my kids?  What if I fall?  What if my left side is super right and I can’t walk? What if my left arm is out too far and I get stuck in someone’s shirt…again? Should I wear my sling?  What if that starts hurting me, like always? What if my arm knocks over a display?  What if my cane gets stuck in something?
I haven’t been to a circus since my mother divorced my first step dad when I was around 6! I only remember an elephant ride and nothing else.  I have to push through this, I have no idea how I will do it but I have to, right?  Maybe if I just remind myself over and over again how good this is for my boys…even though I’m more against the circus due to its treatment of animals and all that liberal crap, I still think the experience would be great for them and us as a family.  It’ll be good. Skas was just telling me about a week ago how we never do anything, go anywhere and mostly it’s because we are quite poor but it’s also me and my stupid head.  My head doesn’t like me out in public but he and his brother don’t understand that yet.  I better get this under control before they do understand.

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