Anxiety is a Bear When You're a Cougar

Anxiety is More Rampant Than we Used to Think

Please like and or comment if you enjoy this essay.

Saw an awesome friend this morning while walking a pooch, who asked if I was ok. Surprised I answered "Yeah, I'm all right. Why are you asking?" I'm paraphrasing, but she said my Instagram videos seem a bit sad and my normal fun self is being overshadowed by my melancholy. I thanked her for the concern and wondered 'Maybe I should edit tonight's post?' The fact is my friend is right. My anxiety has been getting the better of me and, mixed with some other challenges, has made me noticeably blah. It's not that I don't find humor in my day, I'm too tired to slide in my usual sarcasm. It's a weird time for many. With that said, below is a slightly less sarcastic essay than normal. However, rest assured I will be saving it to double down next time I see you guys.

My anxiety has been pretty bad recently. Immediately after one problem is solved I'm on to the next. Similar to those sliding puzzles with the 15 square pieces, you move a piece and a new one moves in. I've been fighting anxiety my entire life and depending upon how one looks at it, I could be winning and or losing the fight. To those who are acquaintances, I look like I don't have any anxiety whatsoever. My friends know I have issues that I ruminate on enough to affect my mental and physical health. However, no one including my therapist knows the degree to which my anxiety affects my life. There are times like now when every problem I have is a serious one with even more serious consequences. When I was young, my problems seemed on par with my peers. Maybe I liked a boy, or a girl wanted to rearrange my face after school or maybe I was at that weird age between an undershirt and a training bra. These are legitimate anxiety-producing problems when I was 13-years-old. The good thing about the girl who wanted to reposition my face, the boy I liked, and my bee-sting tiny tatas is that these issues worked themselves out.

As an adult, there are so many factors that figure into how I deal with problems, and sometimes none of them satisfy me. My poor mom has been through enough of my unanswerable questions, probably more than her job requires. As a result, I give her a break every so often. I don't have any extended family, like aunts, uncles, or cousins to talk to you and friends have their own issues to deal with. This leaves me with the one person who is the worst-case scenario for dealing with my anxiety, and that's me. Unlike my childhood issues there comes a point in our lives when we hit middle-age where every hiccup needs a solution, every mole needs to be seen and every stomach problem requires a long tube to get stuck into a small hole. It's exhausting when there are no molehills left. Where are the fucking molehills? All I see are mountains all around and it's not because I live in Hawaii.

Currently, I don't know what I'm doing with my life and I'm surviving rather than thriving. My health is concerning me, specifically my insomnia and blood pressure. I'm not a doctor, but I know poor sleep contributes to at least a dozen related illnesses. Mix that with stressors that make my heart race and, we get a bad recipe for disaster. I don't think there are good recipes for disaster, because that makes no sense. I have done close to nothing lifestyle-wise to address the blood pressure. If I had a husband or kids I would take better care of myself because to avoid doing so would be considered selfish. At my age, it could still be considered selfish to not take care of myself, but it seems a little bit less so. I never imagined that at this age, I wouldn't have someone to help at least with daily chores. I'm managing a business, trying to maintain healthy family and friend relationships, trying to get a project off the ground and there is little time left over for doing dishes, laundry, and dusting.

Since my best friend Ellen's death my anxiety has heightened in a bizarre way that's making life difficult. As if my other anxieties improve my life. Before Ellen's death, I never lost a classmate or a relative with who I shared a long history. Since her death I assume any peice of news I hear will be about death. While listening to the radio I might hear, "When we come back from break, Barry Manilow, the gentleman who has been entertaining us for seven decades...." and I think, he's dead, Barry Manilow is dead. Instead, I will hear all that happened to Barry Manilow is his birthday. No offense to Mr. Manilow. When I see anyone saying goodbye to each other on a reality show, my inner dialogue is 'hug each other longer, because one of you isn't coming back.' I experienced an identical scenario after the September 11 attacks. When I saw planes taking off or landing, my heart would race and I would think maudlin thoughts. A former therapist suggested, "when you see a plane, remember dreams could be coming true. There could be a married couple on their way to their honeymoon. There might be children on their way to Disneyland." This didn't seem practical to me at all. I like therapy that is task-related like exposure therapy. Maybe make me touch a snake or hang out with a spider. I did try his idea to get excited for the future of strangers. All that happened was my inner dialogue changed to 'Oh, look at the plane. Wonder where they are going? Maybe it's someone's first trip to Europe. I hope they enjoy themselves on vacation because on the way back, they are all going to die.' I just want to stop fixating on death if it's not beneficial to my life.

Work is becoming another huge anxiety for me. Before the pandemic, I had several clients who moved that needed to be replaced. That came out wrong. Several clients had moved off-island and to pay my bills, they would need to be replaced. Then the pandemic came and my fear of not being able to pay bills was replaced with my fear of getting sick and dying. I continued to work through the pandemic with the few jobs that were left. During that time I was able to squirrel away some money surprisingly. I decided that with the extra time I had during the pandemic to go back to old projects that needed to be completed. I spend close to seven hours daily trying to bring this project to fruition. I have zero idea if my future means building up my business or continuing to take advantage of the extra time that I have.

To give my goals a decent chance for success means every fucking day I have to learn at least one new thing. Should this be torture? No, of course not. However, it's not one thing, it's a dozen technical details for a shit ton of apps that are all new to me. I can learn any of these things eventually, but there is only so much time in a day. I realized that for me, who learns things by repetition like a parrot, I don't enjoy learning new things in front of people I don't know. Do I believe that people give a crap, no I don't. Many people don't like trying new things in front of strangers if at all. But instead of public speaking, I'm learning how to take an attractive photo of my lunch. Instead of my brain thinking 'look at all the new technology I have learned!' it's saying, 'I have to go to work soon and I'm spending 90 minutes to get a Dolly Parton song to play on a post' For me to educate myself on almost anything, I need to know I have all the time I need. Apparently, life doesn't work this way. Is this why I'm 52-years-old and single while not appearing to be the elephant man?

Not that I'm counting, but this is at least the second post that has zigzagged its way to completion. Like life sometimes we don’t know where we are going.

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