Or, What I Learned on My Summer Vacation
What's the opposite of perspective? Haha..who knew I would be writing another post about anxiety? I suppose this post could be a companion piece to the last, entitled "Lack of Perspective and Other Infernal Torture". It could have been, but that seems like kind of a bummer. While Bustle has been struggling with a lack of everyday conveniences we all take for granted, slogging through difficult living arrangements in a city where everybody is stressed to the nines, I should be comfy and cozy in my non-flooded house in Austin, right? Wrong. My flood is of another sort, and I too, am having difficulty keeping a stiff upper lip.
Before we get to my tale (and speaking of perspective) please consider helping our friends in Puerto Rico here.
Bustle and I were talking last night about the kinds of stress we handle well...and the kinds that keep us up at night, practically twitching all day, incapable of following the sage and totally impossible advice of "Just relax and stop thinking about it". For instance, Bustle is the friendliest person on the planet, she has a true gift of making friends everywhere she goes. She could make your houseplant throw her a surprise birthday party. But every once in a while she lands on a rare specimen of human, that for some inexplicable reason, decides to simply not like her. Bustle can't help but try and win this idiot over, possibly trying for years. I, on the other hand, hardened by a long childhood and adolescence of bullying and struggling to fit in, can usually shrug it off if someone just "doesn't get" me. It's fine. Water off a duck's freaking back. What grinds my gears and turns me into a perpetual anxiety machine is something a little different.
Maybe it's not that different.
NOTE: This is the part of the post where I tried to describe what's going on my life in specific enough terms for you to understand, Dear Readers, but vague enough that I'm not spilling my personal tea all over a public blog. But I can't figure it out. Suffice it to say, my close relationships are extremely important to me, so any upset there disturbs my equilibrium in a major, MAJOR way. I also have spent many years of my life forging a career in my community, so when that is threatened, I get freaked. Now combine these two and you have the setting for the beginning of my belated summer "vacation", which of course I struggled to enjoy - as I tried to fight off anxiety, worry, anger and fear. Fun in the sun!
Don't worry, this post is not a deep-dive into drama. See? Here is a cheerful turtle to calm you. Instead, I present to you, for your edification and (hopefully) amusement, a list of coping mechanisms that I tried on my vacation to wash that problem right out of my hair. They are ranked from 1 to 10 on how effective they were at bringing me any relief.
1) Just Don't Think About It
This one gets a big fat zero. It's super good advice, but I just couldn't implement it. I had more than one person tell me to go, enjoy my vacation, and just put this matter out of my head. I tried, I really did. Couldn't do it. Just Don't Think About It = 0
2) The Ocean
I really thought this one would be more effective. And I'm embarrassed to admit that the majesty of mother nature didn't put my petty problems in perspective. The problem is, when you're in the ocean, looking out at the vasty sea with the roar of the waves filling your ears - it's a contemplative kind of situation and so whatever is running around in the ol' cranium has a bigger megaphone. Dangit. It was gorgeous, but I'd say The Ocean ranks at about a 3.
3) Getting Drunk
It's a time tested strategy, and a pretty common thing to do on vacay. I tried it. I don't think the alcohol really helped, however my family is a pretty fun group of people to get a little tipsy with, and getting silly and sloppy with them did help for a while. Eventually, however, the booze wore off and we all went to bed, and then a headache was added to my heartache. So...I guess Getting Drunk = 0, but a temporary 6 with my family.
4) Eating My Feelings
Again, a time-honored tradition for the heartsick, and a common vacation activity. I ate a lot of fried shrimp and a lot of hushpuppies ... really a lot of fried everything. It was yummy but didn't make me feel better. Now there's just slightly more of me to be depressed. Eating My Feelings = negative 3.
I am not as religious as Bustle, but I do sometimes pray. And I did. And.... I don't know if it helped? Time may tell? I don't feel like I can rank praying. God is ineffable. Praying = ?
6) Talking, and Talking, and Talking
This one is a very long and exhaustive process, and probably the thing that helped me the most. I am eternally indebted to my incredibly patient husband, family and friends that have listened, advised, and lent me their perspective. Friends and Family That Have Your Back? = at least a 7, maybe an eventual 10.
This is actually a mug that my husband bought me on the trip, that I really love. It's especially sweet if you know that he finds my vast collection of coffee mugs kind of annoying. He was taking me souvenir shopping, just the two of us, because I was the only one who couldn't find a shirt that fit me on our family outing and I was a little bent out of shape about it. He knew it wasn't really about a shirt. It's never just about a shirt, y'all. He knew that my frustration and sadness went deeper, and his patience and kindness were a balm.
And I guess maybe that's the moral of this story. If it has one, other than "Vim suffers from anxiety". That the solution to problems with people is...other people. The people that really love and understand you. The people that are kind, even when you make mistakes. The people that want to see the best in you and aren't looking for the worst. Maybe they're the answer to the prayer.
And...that was more than 5. I tricked you! And I could go on. I also tried:
Watching Stupid Movies (somewhat helpful until the plot of said movie reminds me of what I'm sad about)
Divining Inspiration from My Horoscope (surprisingly somewhat helpful - I recommend chaninicholas.com)
Reading the Tarot (the Eight of Cups? Tell me something I don't know.)
Internet Research (mmm...I give it a 2?)
Reading my BF's Blog Post About Perspective (and then feeling guilty because the last conversation we had was all about MY problems, and omg, what is wrong with me?)
But she understood. See moral above.