March 24, 2010

caught in the undertow

I've always known what that phrase meant in a literal/physical sense. I've heard it used in a metaphorical sense before, and I understand the concept and what it means. Never before have I experienced that metaphorical concept in a tangible way though. Until now.

It's strange really. I think it should be frightening, especially to someone with anxiety/panic disorders, but it's not. It just is.

The whole thing is kind of parallel universe to me, really. If asked whether anything is "wrong", I'm not sure how I would answer. It doesn't feel like something is wrong. If just feels "other". Like if I had to answer how I felt in the form of a multiple choice question, I would fill in the circle "D - None of the above."

It's odd to feel trapped and yet not feel anything. I can feel my heart beating normally. I don't "feel" depressed like I did yesterday. I don't feel the claws of anxiety tearing at my mind like they were Monday. Yet there is something there. Just beneath the surface where I can't see it or identify it. I can't tell what shape it is, or what color it is; whether it's living and breathing or dead and inanimate. I just know that it's there.

I can walk through the house feeling like it is any other "normal" day (normal is a highly subjective term in my world), but there seem to be these little lines all over the place that I can't cross.

I need cigarettes, but I can't leave the property. My feet stop in front of the kitchen window. I can look out at my truck, but I can't get into it.

I need to bring the garbage cans around back from the tree lawn. Too close to the real world.

Work? Yeah, it would be nice to make it in today. Especially considering I've missed two days. Can't do it. I'm not even anxious about it like I have been. I just "can't".

That's why I feel caught in the undertow. I'm fine on the surface, but something unseen is pulling me down. Not over my head. Not yet. I can still breathe; I'm not drowning or gasping for air. Not yet.

But I need to get out of the water. That's what makes me anxious. I'm not drowning NOW, so I'm not scared yet. But thinking about what COULD be coming in with the tide scares me. The thought of being out here alone when it gets cold and dark scares me.

I can't leave for work. I can't go to the store. I can't even answer my phone.

What happens tomorrow? I'm supposed to go on a fishing trip, but I can't even bring myself to pack up my gear. What happens if I can't leave the house again in the morning? Who's going to tell my dad and brother, who have been looking forward to this trip for months, that I had to bail on them? How will they react? I don't know, and I mostly don't care. Except what if dad thinks just the wrong thought and it triggers his own anxiety disorder? That makes me anxious. I don't want to hurt him, but that alone can't lift me out of the chair to pack.

I've talked to Cody.

I've talked to Pastor.

I've talked to Cody some more.

I've been "okay" several times over the last few days.

So why won't this damn undertow stop? The currents have to shift eventually, right?

I'm accustomed to feeling anxious. I'm accustomed to feeling depressed. I don't like those feelings, and I'm not good at handling them, but at least they're familiar. Being trapped is not something I'm accustomed to, and I don't like the way it feels. It's not my size, it's not my color, and it's wearing blisters in the heels of my brain.

Talking, thinking, "emoting" - these things all make me sleepy. If I sleep, I wake up feeling even more worthless and useless.

But sleep is where I'm free. Sleep is where none of this matters. Sleep is where I don't have to think for myself.

Sleep doesn't go to the store though. Sleep doesn't have a job to pay the bills and provide for my family.

Sleep also doesn't have to avoid the eyes of my dogs though. It doesn't have to avert it's gaze in the hopes that the dog won't beg to go o-u-t (I don't dare say it out loud). O-u-t is on the other side of the door.

To get to the other side of the door, I have to unlock the deadbolt and turn the knob.

That's just not something I'm capable of right now.