Monday, May 03, 2004

About the anxiety meds.

Go figure, Word doesn't think meds is a word. Memo to Microsoft...... Ah screw it, they don't think motherfucker is a word either but we all know better. I started on the Buspar on a Tuesday night so for arguments sake let's say my first day was Wednesday. My doctor informed me it would take about two weeks for me to feel anything. Personally, I felt better just knowing I would feel better. It actually took just over a week. I'm quick like that. It was Thursday afternoon, and I had been up for a few hours so it was probably around 3:00 when I first noticed it. Something was different. But what? It took me a few minutes to figure it out. It was quiet. Inside my coconut. Nothing. No irrational fear. No shuffling and re-shuffling of plans. No voices telling me to kill (that's a joke). But seriously, the "other me"-s had stopped there incessant chattering. I had grown used to this background buzz coming from inside my melon for so long that it's absence I now found quite remarkable. And peaceful. I haven't noticed any major or minor side effects. I was getting a slight headache usually an hour or so after taking a dose but they were tiny and didn't last. I'm also not in the least bit drowsy or sluggish, well, I was but I decided to severely curtail my caffeine intake as an added effort to prevent getting all nuts every afternoon. That sucked at first but I adjusted. Now two cups in the morning clears my head just fine. Go figure, an entire pot of coffee in the morning isn't necessary. At times I get discouraged because it seems sometimes that in order for me to "feel well" I keep having to eliminate things I just took for granted as normal, or at least not that harmful. I have to remind myself that these changes will be good for me ultimately and tell myself it took me 20 years or so to get it absolutely wrong and it will take some time to find the right combination that works, but that I can enjoy as well.

It's amazing to me how deeply I had let something like "anxiety" creep into every facet of my life. One day last week I found myself traipsing across town in my (now) weekly pilgrimage to Fish's Eddy. It's a fabulous kitchen ware (plates, glasses, cups, serving trays, etc.) store on 19th/Broadway, if you haven't been there yet, you must. You can buy an entire service or mix and match. Plus, they have monster value bins that are absolutely filled with plates at $1.00 each. It's a scavengers paradise. So even though I pretty much have my eye on a service for four from BB&Beyonce, I drop in to Fish's Eddy once a week or so just to say hi to the shiny pretties. Anyway, on this particular day I was just crossing Broadway when the strangest thing happened. I was singing. Not real loud (I'm crazy not crazy) more to myself but softly. I can't remember the song but that's not important. In that moment I realized I didn't walk down the street singing anymore. Or I hadn't in forever. What was I doing instead to pass the time? Talking myself in to things. Or out of them. Soothing my fears in anticipation of an event that hadn't happened yet. Making deals with my subconscious (The other me-s) that would allow me to walk into that store or hop on that escalator or ride that elevator. You know, nutty stuff. There was no room for singing in this war for control of my actions. But here I was on this day last week, no noise. So I fill the space with a song. Delightful.

I have an irrational fear of fainting in public. More specifically at the gym. The origin of this phobia is rather complicated and it really does make me sound crazy, so I'll skip it for now. (aw, shut it) The important part is it's true and there have been times I have been so overwhelmed by this phobia that I have cut a workout short and left,even though I didn't feel light-headed and despite the fact that logically, there was no earthly reason a fainting spell was imminent.. Neo gave that particular anxiety the term "locking up" and it's about as apt a description as I can give. It's almost like my brain goes into an anxiety "feedback loop" where thought becomes possibility becomes obsession becomes anxiety and back around again and again. So eventually I feel I have no choice but to give in to the impulse and get out of where I am. Thereby unlocking the problem. Curiously, it starts to feel normal. Or at least not, not normal. So a few days ago during a strenuous part of my usual routine, imagine my surprise when the old trigger hit. And I thought about my fear of fainting in the gym. And I thought, "That's stupid, I don't feel faint." I finished my workout.

Has it been absolutely perfect? Problem solved? Well no. I had a couple of bad afternoons the last two weeks. What it hasn't fixed and doesn't claim to treat is my tendency to "live in my head" all the time. Half the time I'm causing my own problems by projecting myself into situations that don't yet exist. Or imagining having to deal with a possible difficult outcome of a theoretical situation. I know, it sounds like a recipe for full goose Bozo. But I'm convinced that part of the problem is simply being a single gay man. Most straight men my age have a boss they hate, a couple of 10 and 12 yr old kids, a mortgage payment they don't want to pay for and a big screen TV they do. A wife they're cheating on or trying to and in-laws and family members to despise. I have me. Me me me. How do I feel ? Is that a freckle on my face or cancer? Why am I thirsty all the time? Why am I sleeping so much, why can't I sleep? Am I an alcoholic? Should I be? I'm gay and totally self involved. And the only time the anxiety disappears completely is when someone or something distracts me from me. The nice part of this experience so far has been that the quiet times in my internal circus have lasted longer and longer. The times that I started to empty the clown car, I was able to cope, and ultimately distract myself. Baby steps, baby.

Two more things:

If (like me) your laptop or desktop is missing a decent word processing feature and you find the entire full featured Word too much for say, a simple weblog entry but don't feel like paying for Microsoft Works either, try this. It's called Abiword and it's free (I said free) word processing software that I've been using all week and I think it's faboo. I was going to link to their site, but of course, since I need it, the site's down. Oh well, trust me once the site's back up it's good stuff.

Finally (I swear), and in an effort to prove that anxiety free doesn't mean I've been de-clawed, I worked on a piece (of writing, pigs) all weekend. I felt that it was mean but deservedly so. I put it away for a few days rather than post it to think on it. Yesterday, I had pretty much decided to opt for a strongly worded e-mail to the party involved, which I would publish here. That way, if I got a negative response I could always unfurl the fury as I had planned. What can I say, I had a Deprak Chopra moment. It didn't last. So tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning at the latest, check back here as I unleash a New York Style throwdown on a certain (no longer) anonymous faggot.

Somebody hold mah weave ..... and here, hold mah shorty.