During the pandemic and up until two days ago, I had grown to accept a low hum of existential dread and anxiety as something I just needed to live with, because we are living in strange and for some, terrible times, so I figured its just something to factor into the day.
It is hot, as summers here in the DC area tend to be. I came in from the afternoon tending of my garden, and decided maybe some iced tea in the afternoons might help me get some energy back. The temptation to nap in the afternoon is strong, but my ability to recover from or be disciplined enough about the time limit on a nap make me reluctant to go down that path.
I didn’t want a caffeine bomb, as my bedtime was beginning to drift to the small numbers at the front end of the clock again, and I do have some commitments in the morning, namely two furry buds who need to go outside, scare the birds and the squirrels and chase each other around for a while until settling down to business.
I had done some research on some things I could add to my tea to reduce anxiety, and another thing to reduce any stomach issue that might result, and decided a little Valerian root, some chamomile, some lavender would be nice additions to the black tea, dried hibiscus flowers, oranges and lemons that I’ve found that I like. dried Valerian taken in small doses can quite nicely to reduce the feelings of anxiety.
The additions to the tea seem to be working pretty well. The caffeine from the black tea and the sugar and citrus has me nicely energized, but I’m also calm, like that weird calm space I rarely get to see when trying to meditate, or after yoga? Not sure if its the valerian in the tea, or that I’ve bent my purpose a bit and decided I really don’t need to carry around anxiety and existential dread and its time to start doing something about it, and the action of doing that has maybe shifted my mental outlook a bit?
If this continues to work, and the anxiety is eased and I am able to sleep through the night again, I’m also considering the work of finding a therapist to start working through some of the old baggage I keep locking away or burying, telling myself I need to move on, but all this urgency to move forward doesn’t gain a lot of momentum, so its time to cut ties with some of the anger, depression, and self doubt that I stuff down in those bags and bury in places in my head I tend to avoid.
…or at the very least face it, process it and let it go.
I’m also thinking of some advice I’ve heard from some friends and my sisters – the time to seek help is not when you need it, but when you don’t really think you need it. There was a show from Taraji P. Henson about taking care of our mental health, and that its particularly important for Black American people, because as a group, we’re carrying around a lot of trauma, from living in a country that is often hostile to us, with people who know they can’t be openly hostile without consequences, but can’t seem to stop themselves from micro-aggression and slights and undermining behaviors, plus all the internalized anger and sadness from having to be strong all the time, and not let the bastards see you bleed, but there is only but so much injury one can take and suppress without it causing some problems.
I say work because I’m going to need to find someone who isn’t going to be charmed by me, or that I can outsmart too easily, otherwise, I’ll just be paying for pleasant chatter.
Its a thing I’m actively considering now, since I actually have a decent level of insurance thanks to a subsidy provided by the Federal Government and the State of Maryland, and a nice case worker who was bored and decided to go in and audit some of the pending insurance applications in PG county and help those of us who weren’t completely clear on how to navigate their systems.
It’s almost as if the system was designed to keep folks from looking for help, but that same system has attracted cool folks like that lady who know the system is fucked up, and worked to get enough expertise to help the folks who the system seems to be designed to leave a little broken.
There’s also the truth – I’m not fine, even though that’s reflexively how I respond when asked. I would like to exercise but seem unable to compel myself to do it. I would like to be more creative and finish a few projects but I can’t compel myself outside of a few things that I have to do to finish them. I’m a freelancer, but I continue to interview for jobs and have been for three years now, and the stress of the hustle to get the money to pay the bills does have my nerves a bit frayed.
My life is great in a lot of ways. I have good friends, pets, a support system of family and friends, a better than average amount of sex in a month, and fairly tightly controlled caffeine and alcohol intake.
…but still, I’m not fine. I’m not broken, either, but I’m not fine.
…so I’ll sip my tea, and work my tasks, and start looking forward to the day where I can put some of this baggage in my head down – and I think the writing of this the beginning of that process.