My Epic of Anxiety

Part Two: Into the Darkness

(To read Part One, click here)

I’m an optimist. So how can I speak of such darkness? Because to reach the light at the end of the tunnel you have to go through the tunnel.

v0_masterThe storm had broken at 3 in the morning. I’d lain there thinking, “What if I go insane?” In the past, a thought like this would have been fleeting, and a moment later I’d have been on to something else.

Not this time.

I suddenly had no mental trampoline to bounce back from. The more I thought about it, the more I feared it would come to pass, unless I somehow managed to stop thinking about it. A radioactive fog enfolded me. I broke out in a sweat, drenching my sheets. I ordered myself not to think about it. Over and over again. Which failed utterly, of course.

I somehow made it to 5:30. That was when The Pantry Diner opened. I stood outside waiting for Lori to unlock the door, then sat down and ordered my usual. I buried my face in a paperback, only half comprehending the words I was reading. I glanced around, wondering if the regulars could tell I was insane. I made a feeble effort at humor with my server. She smiled. Good, no weird looks, I thought. I’m not totally crazy…yet.

My constant obsession, my mental core, was the singular thought: Maintain control at all costs. I told no one. No one must know that the old me was gone and the new me was mad—or on the verge of it.

It was exhausting not going insane. Sometimes I thought I should just let it happen. But I couldn’t. I’d go to a theater and think, What if I suddenly run into the aisle and start screaming? I’d get caught up in the movie for a bit, but then the thought would return. No! I’d shout in my head. I’m not going to do that!

Every time I drove, I’d think, What if I suddenly veer into oncoming traffic? I’d be OK with dying, but all those other people…

Fight or Flight Syndrome. I’d heard the phrase, but had no idea it could happen entirely inside a person’s head. I mean, there was nothing to fight with, nothing to flee from. Well, yes, there was Me. But you can’t run away from yourself. Can you? Not that I didn’t try. Oh, how I ached for a holiday from myself!

I finally told someone: Diane, the tall, stormy beauty from the party. We’d begun dating and had become increasingly committed. To my shock, she embraced my darkness. She had plenty of her own, she admitted, and mine made her feel less alone. I was dating Jonnie 2.o. I’d earned the right to by becoming Darren 2.0.

Then I began to think, What if I go crazy and kill Diane? I obsessed over this for months, fighting to keep the thought at bay. Finally, my voice shaking, I confessed my hideous fear to her.

She laughed out loud, and said, “Are you serious? I weigh 12 pounds more than you. I’d beat the shit out of you!”

My fear of harming her vanished in an instant. It was madly liberating. Finally! A fear I didn’t have to control!Dark Room Light Beam

It was my first glimpse of a light that would pierce not only my darkness, but Diane’s, as well.

But not yet.

To read Part Three: The Healing Wave, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to My Epic of Anxiety

  1. Pingback: My Epic of Anxiety | Mitch Teemley

  2. Refreshingly and gut wrenchingly honest and real. Looking forward to seeing how you came out of the tunnel on the other side!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read this and just keep thinking how much I relate to the Fight or Flight syndrome that happens in the mind, the constant what ifs, etc. Looking forward to reading the next part of the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anne J. says:

    It truly is exhausting not going insane. You have accurately captured my feeling or thought on insanity as though you’ve watched me and read my mind. 🙂
    I used to feel this more often in my early 30’s. I don’t know if I’ve just decided that I will not give in or I’ve accepted that my sanity means I’m partially insane so there’s no need to cross over.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. RGS says:

    Insanity is in the mind’s eye of the beholder.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nancyehead says:

    Transparency should be a watchword of the Church. Thanks for sharing! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: My Epic of Anxiety | Mitch Teemley

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