I have a mild case of anxiety. I’m no stranger to black out panic attacks, or staying awake at night, unable to breathe or keep my eyes closed, feeling my brain move at warp speed, trying to categorize a whirlwind of thoughts. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s awful.
Like it was this week.
Last Friday, I finished up my temp role at the cosmetics company, and it was as stressful as I worried it would be. For the first time in years, I found myself taking half a xanax before I left for work and the other half after lunch. When I walked out of the building on Friday, I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about the company anymore. My contract was over, and I was done. I was a temp. I got a bag full of make up samples, and I was on my way. But, I didn’t have a proper hand-off with the woman I was covering, and my unfinished work gnawed at me all weekend. I went to bed on Sunday feeling uneasy, like I was going to get in trouble over something. And I woke up on Monday with even more knots in my stomach. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sit still. All I could do was fret over nothing.
When 9 AM rolled around, I walked down to the post office to get a package that was waiting for me. My head was too clouded to think that it could have been anything other than tampons (last week I got boxes of tampons from two different people, long story). But it turned out to be a care package from my sister–a fantastically amazing box filled with some of my favorite America things that I can’t find here.
It was such a touching gesture, and I definitely teared up while unpacking it. And it was right in the middle of that nice moment when I got a text from my recruiting agent, asking me to go back to the cosmetics company for a few days to help out. All I could think was that I had messed something up, that I was going to get yelled at, that I screwed up launch campaigns and print ads and the building caught fire after I touched the microwave last. And then it happened: anxiety meltdown. I sat on my bed and cried. All I could think was I don’t want to go back and stop being a fucking baby. I took a xanax. I whinged to my friends in the States. I started frantically cleaning the apartment– when I get anxious, I turn into Monica Gellar.
I spent the rest of the morning trying to vacuum and scrub away my worried feelings, but I was wound up in such a tight ball of First World Problems that it didn’t seem possible. Anxiety is like that, though. The tiny snowball that turns into an avalanche of suck and catastrophe.
Joel texted me later in the afternoon that the BIG BOX from my parents finally arrived. I had it sent to his work, since I haven’t been off during the week to sign for packages, and getting to the post office when it’s open is a pain in the ass. I’d been looking forward to getting the BIG BOX since the day I landed. It was a giant box that my mom’s best friend Sue offered to ship for me as a going away present. Shit yeah! I had filled it with winter clothes and shoes and photos and things to make me feel at home. I dropped everything and ran to the bus. I needed the distraction. I needed my stuff.
Well, the box was bigger than I remembered. It barely fit in the Ikea bag I used to bring it home. And the 2.5 block walk from Joel’s shop to the bus stop was a million times longer now that I was lugging a 500 lb box with me. I had to stop every 20 seconds to rest. I was overheated and spaghetti armed by the time I got home. But it was worth it.
So much stuff! It felt good to unpack it all, to bring my old home into my new home. And even though I was wandering in and out of bad patches all day, I could look at the boxes and feel better. Mom always says that good mail comes when you need it the most, and I definitely needed it on Monday.
Joel came home from work, and I’ve never been happier to see him. We made dinner, watched a thunderstorm, and he helped me talk through what was going on.
Anxiety attacks aren’t fun. And work can be hard. Both can make you feel small and embarrassed. But my people are awesome. The boxes reminded me that I have a world of people who care about me, who are thinking of me. And I care and think about them, too. And it was nice. It was a nice reminder that things are good, even when they suck.
And I got my jackets and scarves, just in time for the rainy season.
P.s. I went back to work, and it turns out I didn’t ruin everything or set the building on fire. Nice!