Coffee Table Declarations
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I've been on vacation this week which explains my absence here - sorry. It's hard to get motivated to sit and write especially since my computer is so much slower than my work computer and I swear this one has a virus. Every other page I pull up triggers a little pop up asking me if I want to download micromedia flash or something. No matter how many times I say no, they just keep asking.

The other day I went to the Science Museum and spent a good deal of time exploring the feature exhibit about the human brain. I watched a little movie saying that half of all people will experience a brain disfunction at some point in their lives. I was slightly horrified until they started giving examples and the very first one was anxiety disorder. I guess I'm covered then.

A lot of people, particularly those who don't have anxiety, don't seem to understand that it is physiological, like any illness, and not just something a person does to cause trouble and inconvenience for themselves and everyone around them.

I've always had slight anxiety over one thing or another and I've suffered my share of panic attacks. But four and a half years ago, for some reason, it all became much worse. I always avoided elevators for as long as I can remember, but I was o.k. in other settings that may have seemed claustrophobic to some. Then one day, we were having a meeting at work in the conference room with no windows. Even though I had sat in there for countless meetings in the past, when the door was shut on that particular occasion, I had a panic attack and an urge to jump up and run out of the room. I didn't of course, but knowing I could get up and open the door was no longer enough to make me feel safe. I suddenly had a new concern of what people would think if I got up and opened the door.

Right around the time of that first panic attack, I had another one while riding in someone's car. It was someone I didn't know well and I was in the backseat and we were on the highway. Out of the blue for no apparent reason I realized that I was stuck and not in control. I was not controlling the car, I couldn't get out, I was basically trapped until we reached our destination.

Over time I have gotten a little better and I don't mind telling you that I am taking Zoloft. Although Zoloft has the super cute bouncy spokes... person? Bean? Bubble? you have seen the commercials I'm sure, it is certainly not so magical as to make the unbearable bearable. Medicine can take the edge off, but the anxiety is still there, and the avoidance is extremely difficult to overcome.

It's especially difficult when people become frustrated with me. Just tonight I made plans with my dad to go on a few errands tomorrow involving a car (more on the car in a future post!) He himself suffered from the same anxieties years ago (unbeknownst to me until recently). But he asked if I minded him driving, saying "you don't feel anxious with me driving, right?" The fact is I feel anxious with anyone else driving. Yes, I have taken short trips through town in my dad's car but that doesn't mean I'm cured or that I will never again feel anxious with him driving.

So my mother and I were talking about it and she got really frustrated with me asking, "well, are you going to be like this the rest of your life?" God I hope not. But this is the same mother who has experienced her own "brain disfunction" in the form of depression. The same mother who reasoned with me when I was hesitant about taking medication that if I had a disease, I would take medicine for it, right? It would be stupid not to.

She thinks I need to go to therapy or take more medication or something. She thinks those things will help. I feel hopeless that nothing will help because I've tried it all. How is talking about my anxiety going to make it go away? And how much medication do I have to take to feel nothing? Do I have to take a daily tranquilizer or something so that I don't end up frustrating people with my anxiety?

My father called back and kindly told me not to worry, I could drive for our errands tomorrow. I hung up the phone and I just started to cry. When I have to defend my anxiety to someone I feel like I'm giving the anxiety more power. People don't seem to understand it's not so simple. It's not like I can make the decision to ride in someone's car and do it and then suddenly I'm over the whole thing.

I wasn't always like this and I don't want to be like this anymore. I'm frustrated with myself probably more than anyone else is. Do you think it's easy arranging things so that you're always the one driving? Let me assure you, it can be very tricky with people you don't know well enough to confess all this to. And besides, I don't want to confess it to anyone else. When I do people are always nice enough to let me drive all the time and that's not really helping me in the long run is it? I don't know what to do, I really don't. But at least I've got my brain disfunction out of the way right?
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