Oddly Panicked

Periodically in my life I’ve had bouts with anxiety. What dissertator hasn’t, really? Breaking into a cold sweat, heart pounding, tightening abdomen, shortness of breath — many things could set of this physical reaction. Like encountering an advisor unexpectedly, reading an article title that seemed to “scoop” my project, sometimes even just sitting down to work would kick it up.

Today, I just woke up panicked and I don’t really know why. Well, hell, I probably do know why. Sometime in the next two to three weeks (my due date is a week and a half away, but I’m hoping for a little extra leeway…) my body is going to do this incredibly challenging and painful thing that I’ve been abjectly terrified of ever since I found out that babies had to get out of their mother’s bodies somehow.

And if that isn’t frightening enough, as soon as I get through that ordeal, my lifestyle is going to completely change. Even little things are going to be different. Like this morning, I ran Spousal Unit up to work so that I could have the car and he could still make his morning meeting. When he got out of the car, he thanked me and I replied without thinking about it, “Any time.” As I drove back home to wait for the carpenters, I realized that from now on it might not just be as simple as “Any time.” It won’t be a matter of just throwing on some pants and hopping into the car. Any time will turn into “never” or “not without an hour of preparation that involves packing up everything the baby owns along with the baby.”

These panicked feelings may also be compounded by the fact that I’m behind on my own work as well. I really, really need to finish the chapter that I started at the beginning of the summer. But, for the life of me I’ve been really struggling to make my brain work. I think it is probably mostly hormonal — I’m having a hard time focusing on anything more complicated than television right now. Like last night Spousal Unit was telling me about this scientific discovery he made during the day yesterday and I found myself totally drifting off — which does tend to happen when he gets going on the big sciencey stuff — but last night I really, really wanted to pay attention and to hear what he was telling me but I couldn’t do it.

And yet, I still have enough brain power to berate myself and feel guilty and work myself into a nice little frenzy. Because that last paragraph sounds to me kind of like an excuse for not working when I should be. I mean, the fucking clock is ticking! What am I waiting for???

So, how do you cure an anxiety attack when two of your three usual tools are not really options? (Obviously, I can’t resort to the drugs since there are two humans living in here and one of them is not really ready for psych-meds. And therapy is out because its been over a year since I’ve been and I know it would take a week or two to get into see my therapist and by then the whole thing will probably be moot.) I already tried the guided relaxation techniques from my doula. When the woman in my iPod declared in her calm voice that, “I look forward to birthing with joy and ecstasy” I wanted to scream. SO not working! Which that leaves me with courage.

Here’s what I’m going to do with what little courage I’ve got right now. I’m going to gird up my expansive and squirming loins (the Gadlet is pretty active right now) and I’m going to go for a swim because that always clams me down. Then, I’m going to pick up some lunch at the little Armenian deli and grab a chocolate croissant from the patisserie next door, and then I’m going to come back here, sit down with this chapter, and do something, ANYTHING, to make myself feel like I’m making some progress on this front.

Hopefully, by the time we take our tour of the hospital tonight I’ll be in better shape and so won’t run screaming from the building when they show me the birthing wing!

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5 responses to “Oddly Panicked

  1. Stewgad, just wanted to say *I TOTALLY LOVE YOU,* where have you been all my (adult) life? Have been procrastinating the last couple of days by reading your oh-so-honest-and-true posts on fiction addiction, overgendered infants, weird hormonal nightmares, self-help cynicism, obsessive Buffy watching, etc etc. I keep thinking, “Hurrah! It’s not just me! Wait a second, is she me?” Thank you for existing.

  2. Babies do change your life, but they are extremely portable. We have still been able to enjoy late dinners and the occasional movie. It’s all about planning!

    Good luck to you and Spousal Unit.

  3. I really mean this when I say I know *exactly* how you’re feeling! When I was pregnant with Baby E last year, I scheduled my prelim exams for 4 weeks before my due date. As I walked into the room for my orals, I commanded her (in utero) not to move or kick for the next 2 hours, otherwise I’d simply explode from my inability to concentrate on the answer I needed to provide. Oh yeah, and we also moved, and took a trip to visit my hubby’s family on the east coast, and I had to completely paint and set up the nursery–all between August and mid-October. By the time I finished with my prelims, my brain was mush 🙂

    Hang in there…cause, well, there’s not much else you can do!

  4. Good luck! I’ve found the only cure for procrastination (being a writer/procrastinator myself) is doing exactly what you’re planning: sit down and write SOMETHING just to make yourself feel better. Then, enjoy the end of the panic attack, treat yourself to a mild conceit session at having started, and do a bit more. Which leads to more work, and so on.

  5. Thanks Landsnark! Welcome to Pretty Hard, Dammit. Glad you’re enjoying things!

    Thanks to all also for the good comments. I went and got into the pool, which helped, and did some work on the chapter, which also helped!

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