Return of the Anxiety Demons
Did I really think that a few anti-depressants, a bit of yoga and a sugar free diet would be enough to cure four decades of anxiety?
“It’s a new dawn; It’s a new day” or so the song goes. But, unlike Nina Simone, I am NOT ‘feeling good’ this morning. I don’t even need to open my eyes to know that the Anxiety Demons are back. The protective barrier which I have been enjoying recently appears to have shattered during the night.
“Has my strategy stopped working already?” I wonder. “How DEPRESSING!!”
Anxiety Demons just LOVE to get you in the morning. They surround you while you are still sleeping and defenseless. They poke at you with their cold hands and fill your senses with black smoke.
Your head feels like a sponge – soaking up the bleakness. JKR Rowling got it just right with the Dementors she created for Harry Potter. In their presence, happy thoughts go ‘pooft’. In their place come thoughts of death and mayhem; remorse and regret; unspeakable events and catastrophes. In those waking moments – all of them seem very real. AND you’ve just remembered the weird little black hairs you found growing on your big toe the day before.
So – Yes; the demons were definitely back this morning.
Although they have not visited for a while, I do have emergency procedures which I can put into place. But I need to act quickly – and I mean within thirty seconds. Hubby may well be snoozing beside me, but so too are the demons. I need to get up and out – FAST! I need to leap from my bed, jump in the shower, get dressed and then run out into the street and over to Starbucks, or Costa, or any other café which opens early. Only then can I relaaaaaax. Once I am out of my own head and back into the outside world, I start to feel better. The demons dissolve and things veer back towards normality. Phew!
And if I don’t act quickly? If I don’t leap from my bed within thirty seconds? Well that’s a whole different ball game. I will simply lie there, paralysed, and let the demons take over. I will feel so weighed down by my heavy thoughts that it will be hard to imagine ever getting out of my bed again.
Usually I do manage to bolt out from under the duvet – but not this morning. Today I have been taken by surprise. I have felt much better this last few weeks and I wasn’t expecting this. By the time I realise how awful I feel, I have missed the thirty second escape window. The weight of my grim visions forces me into the anxiety trough – and there I wallow.
Now I will come back to this point next week because I am intrigued about why some people suffer low mood and anxiety in the morning, often with no obvious source, and then they feel better once they are up and about. What is it that does, or doesn’t happen inside our heads during sleep?
Anyway – that one is for next week. So for now, I reason with myself. At the back of my mind I know this may just be an off day. I remember that I am on such a low dose of anti-depressant that they may not be effective. I was advised that if the effects wore off then I can simply move up to the next dose. I allow this happy thought to chivvy me out into the day – but I don’t properly cheer up until I have an unexpected near death experience (OK I’m exaggerating but read on).
Death by ‘inhalation of parcel tape’ – that is what the post mortem would have concluded if the events of today had turned nasty. I was packing up some orders from my online shop and, in a strange combination of events, I managed to bite off the parcel tape and, at the same time, take a sharp intake of breath. I have no idea why I breathed in so hard but, to my horror, I felt the bit of tape whoosh into my mouth and become lodged at the back of my throat.
Well the panic! As you can imagine! Which way did it go? I had no idea whether the tape was heading down my windpipe towards my lung or through the oesophagus towards my stomach. If it went to my lung would it cause an instant blockage resulting in rapid, painful death? Or would it lie in my intestine for months and turn all of my cells cancerous. What would Columbo make of it all? Would foul play be suspected?
In any case I started to plan my goodbyes and pick my funeral music (again). It was a somber afternoon so when I did eventually cough up the parcel tape I was ecstatic! I was alive! I was happy! In the aftermath of my near demise, the overall sense of gratitude was better than any anti- depressant.
Is this a realistic approach to add to my anti-anxiety strategy? Along with yoga and a sugar free diet, should I factor in a daily near-death experience? Nothing too risky but just enough to give me perspective on pointless anxieties and to banish irrational fears. Something to remind me about the bigger picture of this beautiful life?
Hmmmmm – maybe not!
Next week – What would John Steinbeck Say?