Monday, August 13, 2012

Post-Workout Confessions

Life is not crazy lately. It is just life. Well, there are a few extra stressors I could do without, which is why my already Moderate-Strong levels of anxiety are reaching Richter magnitudes at the Major-Great 9.0+ end of the scale.

Anxiety is not something people talk about for some reason. True anxiety, that is. The kind that cripples people, causing them feel they are on the brink of terror, constantly irritated, fatigued, and sometimes just plain mean to the people around them. People who don't realize they are in a constant, low-level state of anxiousness might begin to think they are actually just a horrible, sad person.

Why don't we talk about it? I don't understand that. Being ashamed of how we feel just makes it worse.

So here is the truth.

I don't love San Francisco. I've lived here for a year and haven't been to Golden Gate Park. Most days I stay at home, because I work from home, but also because facing this city is exhausting. Facing a city that doesn't get me. Feeling so completely displaced. The city does have it's moments. They are usually when I leave the city and remember that the ocean is so close I could reach out and taste the saltwater.

Making friends is hard. Good ones, the kinds you can be an anxious mess in front of. I have a handful here that I am grateful for. I need more.

Writing poems is beyond hard right now. With the chapbook coming out, I keep thinking, "But these are the best poems I've ever written. How can I top these?" Plus, when a writer has a small sphere without much stimuli to stir up new connections and ideas, the poems tend to be a bit navel-gazey. That's all I write these days. So I mostly don't write.

I'm not in love with my life. I feel most ashamed of this. In theory, I *should* be. Shouldn't I? I teach poetry, I write for an awesome company (from home!), my partner is more supportive and loving than I ever thought possible, and I live in this amazing city. Yet, I'm still trembling. From the "little t" trauma of starting over completely. It's only been a year, but in this past year I've left school, my family, my friends, my hometown, moved across the country, to a state that might as well be another planet, to a city that doesn't get me, moved in with my partner, started a new career, and damn, that's not even half of it.

Lately I've been waking up way too early, averaging around 5-6 hours of sleep a night. I do not function well when I'm this sleep deprived. I wake up and begin to feel the pulse of anxiety creep into my veins telling me to wake up, get going, start working, go go go. Falling back to sleep becomes impossible.

At some point, an anxiety-ridden person gets either depressed or angry. The anxiety becomes too overwhelming to deal with, so bed is the safest place. Or the anxiety becomes so overwhelming that you run. Literally run. Run off all that stored energy that your body seems to think you need right now. Your body is telling you, "Feel threatened! Go go go!" So you do. You run or swim or climb flights of stairs, make your heart beat faster and sweat until your body surrenders. Waves that little white flag and screams, "For the love of life, please stop! You are safe now. Stop stop stop!" And you have a few moments of calm inside.

Working out is a weird term for what I'm trying to do. Yes, I want to be OUT of this shitty feeling. But it doesn't happen like that. It returns. One jog will not be the healing balm for my anxiety. It's more like a work-through, I think. Or working-through, even. A perpetual state of maintaining, care-taking, self-loving. Owning your out-of-control pulse. Telling your body that you are safe everyday, if you are lucky enough to be safe, that is. And I am. Both lucky and safe.

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