Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sleepwalking

Things are happening.

Believe it or not, George isn't at home in addition to this here blog, I keep a journal. I bought it in Turkey with my sister Cat in mind, but I ended up keeping it for myself. It's small and blue, with a tiny Turkish rug splayed across the front cover.

I typically fill it with all of the sap-tastic things I don't want to post, as well as fleeting ideas and "to-do" lists. I haven't written in awhile, but something made me pick it up on Sunday night, as I was heading out to the airport, Atlanta-bound.

I began leafing through it only tonight, from my hotel room on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (and of course, my frequent jaunts in the city leave me, shall we say, wistful?). In it, I found this jem:

Also, new obsession? Post-it notes. I seriously carry them in my bag and use them constantly: love letters to J, "to-do" lists, and bookmarks in my favorite how-to guides, as well as O magazine. A recently used post-it adhered to a magazine page reads:

We sleepwalk through the possibility of joy.

Were truer words ever said about me? I am sleepwalking. There is so much more, and yet I get bogged down in the distractions: the Facebook, the dramedy, the Sex and the City rerun.

I don't want to be here again. I don't feel like reevaluating, then making amends to right the wrongs, get active, and start actually hitting my goals, rather than jotting them down here and thinking, I'll start fresh tomorrow.

Things are happening.

I have been working on it. I've been running; I am determined to run that half-marathon in November. That is a goal I will hit.

Now, however, I have a new addiction; a new shield to hide behind.

Ladies and gents: I am addicted to planning things.

By June, I had planned virtually every weekend throughout the summer. Which friends can we see? Who can we visit? Where can we travel? What shows are happening? Where can we have dinner? I have a free Southwest ticket, J! Where should we go?

I lurve my friends and family, but dudes? I think you are my new crutch.

When I realized I scheduled a business trip to Pittsburgh on the same day I was booked to fly out to Denver to hang with my grandparents and dear sissies, I called J immediately.

"Babe? I give. You're right. I'm done planning. I'm not planning anything else this summer."

When J asks me why I can't stop committing to events, parties, dinners, travel plans, etc., I typically tell him: I'm just so happy to be alive.

I say this seriously. I am so ecstatic to be here; I can't imagine squandering any of this.

But then there is that small part of my heart that is still sleepwalking. That longs for a Masters, and a novel, and maybe someday a super-awesome baby.

But I can't have those things, because I don't devote the time and effort.

I sleepwalk, you see.

I'm still hiding.

Things are happening, though.

I am starting to get all panicky again.

The last time I had an episode, I was talking to Koos on the phone. I was driving from Providence to Worcester two years ago, when suddenly I wasn't okay.

My heart was racing. I felt light-headed; and most certainly not myself. It's difficult to describe; I was not me, and also, I was terrified. I had an overwhelming sense of impending doom, I was afraid of a fate that I was powerless to stop.

I pulled into an office park. I stopped the car, and told Koos what was going on. I tried to maintain a normal conversation to get my mind off of it (whatever it was), but I failed to calm myself. I ended up hanging up the phone and driving to Worcester with the windows down. I needed air. I couldn't breathe.

I called a doctor in our neighborhood later that week. I had never seen this woman, but as soon as she entered the room I burst into tears.

"I'm so stressed," I sobbed. "I don't know what's wrong with me; but I'm losing it lately."

The doctor gave me a sympathetic glance and a few kind words.

Then she immediately wrote me a prescription for Paxil and Ativan.

PAXIL! An anti-anxiety med that you need to take on the regular, for at least 6 weeks, before it begins to work... She'd met me for five minutes. She'd seen nothing of my medical history. She knew nothing about my life, except for a few weepy moments inside her exam room.

I stuffed the scripts in my purse, scheduled a follow-up appointment, and left, completely disillusioned.

I tossed them almost immediately. First, I talked to my then fiance, who convinced me I was just going through a rough patch, and was I really ready to commit to this medication? Was it medically necessary? I canceled the follow-up. With J's help, I began to slow things down. I began to breathe and I never once experienced the panic again.

That is, until last week.

It was the same prolonged feeling of dread and powerlessness. When I finally calmed, I decided that this bonafide panic attack was the physical manifestation of the sleepwalking.

The need to do and grow and be, combined with the frustration of all of my crutches: procrastination, planned events, and HBO dramas.

Suddenly, I had my Cher Horowitz epiphany: I needed a makeover, but this time? This time I would make over my soul.

With no Pismo Beach disaster to mitigate, I am setting out to not only accomplish my own stated objectives, but to also be a better person. To give back more. To be a better friend. To finally, for the love of Pete, reduce the call-screening by 50%.

In essence, I'm putting in the effort again. On all fronts. All systems go.

It helps to write so candidly. The panic didn't kick my ass this go-round. Once I could think rationally, I decided to get to the heart of it. What was really causing me to worry so extremely? What is happening in my life at this point?

And the conclusion I drew was that I'm overworked, overbooked, and stretched too thin to feel really productive and worthwhile.

So I'm scaling it back, and concentrating on the people that are important, including myself. Enough with the sleepwalking. It's time to make like Janet and get back in control.

Can I get a witness?

4 comments:

Sagira said...

As an effective medicine, paxil would surely provide you immense relief if you are in the grip of panic disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder but it is altogether true that the usage of Paxil occasionally facilitates certain side-effects such as headache, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat et al. These side-effects can yield serious results if not treated immediately hence take this medicine only on proper prescription.

Homevalley said...

I am sure Paxil is a fine drug; I don't think it was appropriate to prescribe after a five-minute consultation.

Anonymous said...

I dont think you need drugs, HV! and thats from a 20 year consultation!! You are on the right track, you know what needs to be done and you are taking all the right steps!

If you need to bail on something, just say what people always say to me: something suddenly came up.

Works every time.

-Allie

Homevalley said...

I don't think I need the drugs either; nothing wrong with the drugs, but I don't think I am there yet. (Just give me time, though. Give me time.)