I thought I was doing fine. I really did.
Okay, yes, everything’s gone to hell. A lot of things are not okay right now in the world. Especially where I live — in the United States.
But I’d been doing a good job keeping my thoughts centered. There’s a lot to worry about, but I wasn’t having a lot of worried thoughts. At this point, I have my own kind of mini new normal — that isn’t normal by any means — but is a routine.
I knew the steps to this dance. And I was dancing. Never missing a beat.
I thought I was doing fine — but it turns out I was probably in denial. Because about a week ago, I started suddenly having panic attacks. I had fooled my mind but not my body.
As my partner says, I was probably pushing a lot of stress down into my body — and then managing to ignore it. And from my perspective, all of a sudden my body was screaming at me — “PAGE, YOU’RE NOT OKAY. YOU’RE REALLY NOT OKAY.”
From my perspective, this came out of nowhere.
But from my body’s perspective, it probably played out more like this: I had a stress bill to pay. They sent it to me. I ignored their bill, tossing it in the trash, telling myself it was just “junk.” (Whether this was inattentiveness/an honest mistake or full-on denial, I do not know.) So they sent me more notices. And I ignored those, too. Just kept on moving.
So my body was forced to send me the biggest, scariest, most neon yellow, block letter-looking announcement ever. “This is your final notice,” my body said. “Pay up now.”
So I did. I had been doing mindfulness meditation — but mostly the cognitive kind. It was time for somatic backup — varied breathing routines and a little yoga (for the record, I do the world’s least impressive, wussiest yoga, not for athleticism or anything but as a check-in with my body). I masked up and went for walks. I wove a potholder with a kit intended for children (because I liked doing it when I was a kid; it turned out great, and we need more potholders anyway so I’ll probably make a few more).
I’m doing better now, as I write this. (Or at least I think I am. Haha.)
But the whole thing was a wake-up call. There’s a difference between being able to stay productive while you’re feeling miserable — and taking comprehensive care of yourself during trying times. I was confusing them more than I wanted to admit.
I won’t make that mistake again. I hope.
Okay, scratch that. If and when I make that mistake again, I hope I will deal with it as well as I did this time or better.
Because that’s a more realistic goal, I think.