Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sky: A Bad Day in Burlington

[written January 2017]

I’d planned on a quiet, relaxed morning. …the start of a day and night on my own. Jane left town on a business trip, so I’ll be on my own, usually a good time.

Sure enough, I’m up early and completely enjoying the clear quiet of a winter morning…a calm that penetrates even into my home in the center of Burlington --Vermont’s biggest city.

But then, my peaceful, calm morning is ruined …by something. Something must have happened because now I’m a quivering ball of anxiety. I’m thinking about all the things to do. Some I MUST do... others are optional. Planning ahead, I’ve written all these down, just in case. But what, in fact, happened? What jerked me from my happy day to wallowing in my options? I know the answer, but I don’t want to admit it: I DON’T REMEMBER what happened! Maybe something mysterious inside my brain where my 100 Billion neurons are under attack. Or maybe something else that I have, so far, completely forgotten…

Time to get a grip and try some things… Today is Saturday so the comedy shows on NPR might be worth a visit.. they are, but then they're over. A friend calls to see if we might get together for lunch today. Oh no, can’t do that…I’m meeting daughter, Dana, and then off with her to a health care rally. Cool!

But wait, wait, ….we are running out of time. I haven't heard from her, and she’s supposed to arrive late morning. I call, no answer, text, ask where she is, remind her of the rally. She takes a few minutes to respond.

Wisely, she calls. Also, wisely, she tells me I have the wrong date. I’ve got the schedule right, but TOTALLY THE WRONG DAY! This is all supposed to happen tomorrow instead. S**T!!

Though talking with Dana calms me down some, for some reason I don't let on how scattered I feel. I’m bouncing down a decrepit bobsled track. But it’s not fun. The run hasn’t been maintained. There’s potholes and patches and jagged ice. I’m getting beat up just trying to maintain a semblance of emotional control. HOLY F**K, Where does all this come from?

Searching for Soothing, I get domestic and heat up yesterday’s soup that I liked so much, and start some sunflower seeds for toasting. Then, all my options crowding against each other, I crave getting outside, so I shut down the stove and pack up Jane’s package for the post office. Not sure of their hours, I do remember that they have shortened hours on Saturday. And, because of holidays, the package MUST be mailed today. So, I go there first. Anxious still, the first thing I do at the PO is check the hours and sigh (loudly) with relief that they stay open 'til 4 (or 5) on Saturdays. GOOD! I can relax.

Feeling a little more on top of it, I go inside the (heated) lobby. I’m stunned to see the Closed sign on the door leading to the service windows. A discreet sign informs the public that the windows close at 1 pm on Saturdays.

And I lose it. I check to see if there might be someone…anyone…in the building. There isn’t.


Thank goodness this is a time of tears because here come some more…

I’m starting to pull my sniveling self together to ride back home when I hear a scream from Church Street, nearby. Then another. Running feet. More screams. It sounds like people having a harder day than mine. As I make my way over there, I see a group of maybe two dozen women holding signs: “PANIC,” “SCREAM,” “TOO MUCH,” “PANIC.” They pass around a bullhorn, and each person says a sentence or two about another unbelievable outrage expected from the incoming presidential administration. After each one speaks, all the women scream and run in terror, waving their signs. It was a little funny around the edges, but to me, the screams conveyed pure horror.

At the end, the woman with the bullhorn shouted the question,”What can we do so we don’t have to scream?” A popular answer: “Fight Back!”

That’s what I need to do….FIGHT BACK! How? What is it, now, really that I’m fighting?

I can start with finding a way to overnight Jane’s package that I was entrusted to ship. Wonder if the extra charges can count as a medical expense?


  1. DAMN!!! You must of been so scared, I know I would of been. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have gone into Panic Attack mode...sounds similar...and gee how I hate that feeling! What did Jane say when you told her? That too must of been upsetting. Or are you each trying to protect the other? I think not telling her would of been tempting. Or maybe I don't know what I am talking about in the least. This I say to make you laugh..."shit for brains" :) Love you Sky!

    1. Mostly it's about remembering to remember, or remembering to remember to remember. So far it there's something I REALLY HAVE to remember I can usually do it if I plan ahead. As far as changing moods and dealing with unfocused anxiety, I've got a pretty good collection of tools (that I'm still learning to use properly!). Then there is the little problem of the hole in the bottom of the toolbag that randomly and unpredictably let's various tools fall out and be gone forever. And, as far as telling Jane, that's a no-brainer [ha ha]. We are a team on this one. Jane keeps me alive

  2. Sky, this is Dorothy Mammen, a friend of Jane's from the Civil Union days ... you and I met only a time or two. My mother had Alzheimer's, and who knows, it could be me or my husband in a few years ... I am grateful for your sharing your struggles and feelings.

    Oh Sky, the pressure and anxiety ... that anxiety that came out of nowhere ... and then not knowing if you forgot something important, or if something happened that you couldn't remember ... that must have been terrible. It's the stuff of anxiety dreams ... we forgot to go to class all semester and now we're going to fail the final ... we forgot the baby in the car when we brought in the groceries and now it's the next day ... anxiety anxiety! And now it sounds like you have the "Itty Bitty Shitty Committee" sitting on your shoulder, telling you, "you can't remember anything! Now what have you screwed up?!? It must be this! It must be that!" When you have no clue. Arg!

    I wonder whether there are some ways you can get that pressure off of yourself. You don't want this to be happening, but it is, and trying to function in the world as you always have is bound to be anxiety-producing. When Jane's away, can you have a friend over and play cribbage, for example, help you accomplish some chores that are helpful but not stressful, fix dinner together? And even distract you with something compelling, if you are hung up on thinking you forgot something and can't get past it. I know there's no easy answer. I think what I'm saying is, can you and Jane together make your world a little smaller, a little more nestled around you, to better match your current state?

    I know that not being in your head, I can't really know how this feels, or what can help, if anything ... I appreciate your sharing, and I am listening.

    With love,
    Dorothy Mammen

    1. Thanks for listening, Dorothy.

      Yes, the unsolicited anxiety is not real helpful...either in dreams or in (so-called) waking life. Good description: anxiety that "came out of nowhere." I wonder sometimes where it does come out of? and how to send it back? One scapegoat that works pretty well is: "Oh, yeah, that's AD knocking on my brain again. You can leave now. Find your own way home."

      Luckily, I haven't yet had to cope with big losses, like whole chunks of a day going by when I might have done something bad and unremembered.

      And I hope to always have access to my favorite tool...a most powerful one: a wonderful NAP.

      Thank goodness for the early stages!!