This Is What My Anxiety Feels Like. This is My Pompeii.
This is my Pompeii. The dust settling after the eruption. Cataclysmic tremors that continue to reverberate, leaving me wondering if the ground will ever stabilize. Just when things start to seem like they are steadying out, the suffocating remnants make their way down. Like rain. Infiltrating everything and burying me.
I function well in crisis mode. It has become a default. For almost as long as
I can remember, I have been in a constant state of heightened awareness. It has
all been fight, flight, or freeze, with little wiggle room in between. My
system has become hardwired for hypervigilance and I have learned to
immediately react in a heightened manner – one way or another – with little
delay, no matter the circumstances. But the aftermath, the hours and days and
weeks that follow, leave me feeling gutted, exhausted and overwhelmed. I
replay scenarios over and over in my head. I question the choices I have made.
I wonder how it could have been different and if my decisions, made in the heat
of the moment, were indeed the right ones. I panic. I cry. I rage. I pace back
and forth. My sleep is pockmarked and restless.
Anger and anxiety find their way in no matter what defenses I mount against
It all swirls and twists and turns, weaving itself around my bones and
into my cells.
All of the daily minor inconveniences are magnified infinitely.
A broken mixing bowl feels potentially disastrous.
The electric toothbrush that suddenly stopped working is proof that things are horribly awry.
Children who are out of sorts, rambunctious and overtired are proof of my tenuous grasp. I attempt to push the more devastating violations and betrayals further and further away, denying the reverberations they are creating. Permeating every waking minute, edging into my dreams, and leaving me exhausted, cantankerous and dragging around a devastation that feels too heavy for the circumstances. The precipice feels imminent and daunting, like I am walking a razor thin line, continuously wary of the fall and the potential damage from impact.
All in all, I know there is little I can do. And perhaps not even anything I
would have done differently. But this knowledge does little to assuage the
panic. The anxiety continues to mount and build until it towers over me. I find
myself feeling as though I have been flung from a high branch and all of the
wind has been knocked out of me. I am gasping for air as the tightness around
my chest constricts further and further. The ashes continuing to fall in
It was the day after the volcanic eruption in Pompeii that was indeed the most
deadly, the time when people mistakenly thought they were safe. It was only
then that they were assailed by the plume of ash from Mount Vesuvius and frozen in place.
I am not frozen. Far from it. But as I move through my days, I am struggling to breathe all the same.
I want to be able to say it is all OK.
That it is alright.
This is just how things go sometimes.
And while all of those things are true, there is so more to it than that. Much of what I believed in and held to be true and relied upon has been called into question. My faith in others and my trust have been put to the test in ways I would never have anticipated. I feel betrayed. And violated. I am angry, but more than that I am frustrated and I hurt. The series of events have been an undoing and in addressing them I have borne witness to the reopening of old wounds. I am far better at seeing them and tending to them than I was in years past, but they are still there pleading for attention. Because they deserved better. I deserved better. A few unanticipated and unforeseeable events have set so very many things wildly spinning in my head.
I keep waiting for the ride to be over so I can pause, find my footing, wait for the ashes to clear, and hope that the landscape will come back into focus.