Autofiction: Anxiety Games

Panic Flower

What Is Anxiety To Me?

This is my Friday: I’ve had a nice day. Nothing outrageously awesome – just nice. I’ve scored a day off work prior to working a weekend to implement a new system, following nearly 8 months of frequently stressful planning, training, mapping and a hundred other incredibly dull, detail-laden things. I got up late after a superb improv jam the previous night in which I did good stuff, almost destroyed my voice and got a big chunk o’ hope for the local improv scene. Spent the morning (what little of it I was awake for) with my adored pussy cat and a good book. Had a relaxing breakfast, shower and stuff. Fiddled on Facebook. Neil Munro (an excellent gentleman) from Clockwork Prism came round to record a bunch of promotional voice overs for next weekend’s Furthest From The Sea festival in Derby Market Place. We did that and spent a few hours geekily chattering about Lego, Marvel, arts and film. It was very enjoyable. My other half is in Manchester working on 2.8Hrs Later’s new zombie chase game Asylum, so I’m on my own now. She’s staying with my brother and having a good time. She is perfectly safe. I have a quiet evening ahead of me, probably made of a cat, Lego and The Clone Wars: Animated Series; I’m looking forwards to it.

Why Am I Telling You These Things?

This isn’t supposed to be a diary account, but I wanted to set up the context for how I feel right now. There is something clawing its way out of my stomach, its every strike vibrating through my limbs and mind. It’s a horrible, yawning sensation – I am seized and cast into nervous jittery frenzy by it. I cannot decide what to do. Every option makes the hollowness grow wider and deeper. It throws the night into a terrified shadow. This is fucking insane.
I have maybe three things I need to do tonight – do some food shopping, assemble Attack on Weathertop, remember to eat something. That’s it. I even have my beloved Merly on my lap – everything, everything is fine. I have a couple of pain in the arse days ahead of me, but they will be punctuated with laughter, relief and will be the end of a long frustating process. The week that follows will be somewhat stressful, but I’ll be running around doing a hundred things at once – I love being like that. Then I have the Glee Club show, and then the festival the day after. It’s good. The future (at least short-term, which is the furthest I can look) is bright. Yet here I am, riven with a sudden panic like steel butterflies raving in my belly.

Gotta Do… Something

Action, action is required. I go out. Sainsbury’s. We need maybe five things; I have not made a good list – so tense I was incapable of seeing what was in our cupboards. I’ll figure it out when I get there. Cycling is a bad idea if you’re being hammered by anxiety. I am not paying attention. I manage not to die. Sainsbury’s is unpleasantly busy (I think: in reality it probably wasn’t); I race around; I miss half the items and go back round. The place is a fucking maze full of moving meat walls. I have my podcast in my ears. I cannot remember it save the soothing voices. I leave. I leave. I leave. Tesco is calling. They have Lego and space, so much space so much space. I look at no one. I leave with things I don’t need.
I cycle slower on the way back. I feel safer. The weight-lightness in me is healing; I feel calmer. Everything goes into its place. I laugh at myself. I avoid alcohol. I write about how I feel and I am… better. I pause and the panic lurches up through me like a dog in a pit.

Fix

Some time later…
…It seems to me to be a condition without reason. It’s at its worst when I am still, completely inactive. I think maybe it comes along because I feel I ought to be using my time, doing a thing. I don’t think I always should be doing stuff. I’m now taking me pills – the lovely amitryptyline which has me sleeping better – for longer and more regularly than ever in my life. It is wonderful. It also calms me. I try to take it only in the evening since it’s ostensibly for sleep (both anxiety and depression make it tough to sleep – for me), and it does leave me open to drowsiness. I guess I just left it too late tonight. It’s steadily kicking in now. I can feel it. I can feel my muscles unbind and the desperation eases away. The giant tension headache produced by my jaw clenching for fear of gibbering will slowly fade away too. It’s better this way.

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