- Drew Fuller
I don’t know anyone who has described me as a type A personality. I have been called laid back a lot, and I think life is better living in the moment. It seems my mind does not always agree.
Years ago, when I knew my first marriage was in deep trouble, I could not figure out how to fix things. That’s the first anxiety attack I remember, and it lasted a couple of weeks. It hit again a few years later as that marriage ended and a new life was in front of me. I’ve since remarried and now have twins. And another attack.
At first I thought it could be left over effects from playing football. I remember hitting people and having everything turn white and just checking out for what seemed like a few minutes, but when my vision and I came back, I would be standing, looking around. Didn’t know much about concussions in those days. Or a couple of other head injuries I remembered could be it.
Except the attacks were not constant, which was the only thing that gave reassurance. I somehow knew they would not last. Maybe some kind of chemical imbalance, but it seems tied to life, rather than random.
I call it high anxiety with apologies to Mel Brooks, but I’m still not really sure. New marriage, new kids, new career, no money could be good reasons to worry, but it’s more than just that. It’s best described as an overwhelming desire to just get up and move and a mind that will not stop. I could lie down for a few moments, but the demand to get up and walk around made sleep impossible. Lack of sleep builds the problem, and any minor pains become a major irritant. Breathing becomes an issue. It is possible to work while it’s going on, but hard to imagine one can do the best when most mental energy is spent fighting that urge.
The first time I wasn’t all that sure it would end and I had few tools to use. I wound up drinking myself to sleep. It lasted for a couple of weeks, but if that was going to be continuous, there was not enough booze. I started meditating and it was a battle to be quiet, but meditation did what the bottle could not. It stilled the mind enough to be able to think again.
The second time was a surprise; I thought I had beat it out of me. I added counting my blessings to meditation and there were only a few times I could not sit still, and the event went on for only a week. Last time gratitude was added to the toolbox and it was more of a mood with a few low points. It only took a couple of days to banish it.
Dealing with it as little as I have is enough to give empathy to those who commit suicide. There was no fun during those episodes and I was completely unwilling to accept it as a new normal. That’s what led me to look at it with as many perspectives as I could think of. I mean, how do those tools come into play?
Worry itself is totally useless and for the most part, detrimental. Careful preparation and a flexible approach is enough for nearly everything that comes along. Anything else falls under faith. Worry only takes away joy from now. Easy to get caught up and forget that. if you can get the silence of meditation, you’re not worrying. At least at that moment.
My current marriage is a source of stability in my life. I am fully aware things can change, but I’ve been down that road before and that’s not where we’re going. I knew my wife would be waiting for me when I got out of my fog and that was a focus point. I knew if I could hold on to life, she would hold on to me. At least for a while, and that would be long enough. That is an awesome blessing.
What if the episode didn’t end? I now understood those who find life not livable. I mean, if your mind or body is an enemy? Still, I’ve never been a fan of willfully ending mine. Maybe it’s because I think problems come up to be worked out and it’s hard to find solutions if you’re not here. Having things to work through makes one stronger and sometimes illness creates gratitude for wellness.
New kids are something else. We do have a bit of a village going on and I feel if we intentionally pay attention and just do our best, the kids will be fine. Worse case, if I could not regain power of my thoughts, they have an unbelievable mother. I believe, however, life is a series of choices and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I took comfort in knowing I would be able to get me back because I really want to get to know who they are as they grow into themselves.
A new career is stressful because there are no guarantees it’s going to work. However, I feel obligated to follow joy. I really want to be there for my kids and wife as they grow and time spent with them is more important than money earned. But the bills don’t care and a large part of parenting is responsibility. The key is finding the right balance. I have reinvented myself a couple of times before and I know there is a lot of work involved and most of the time you have to take a step back before you can take a two steps forward. The same kind of work has been successful and worth the effort in the past and there is no reason to expect differently this time. Worse case, my old careers are there anytime I need them.
Needing money finds it’s own expression. It’s our creation. In fact, that is always fluid and it’s really more about perception. I say I have no money, but I am wildly wealthy compared to living conditions in most of our world. I have also learned that financial difficulty, unless you jump out the window, is not fatal. It’s never more than adjustments and if I really think about it, it’s kind of hard to imagine financial setbacks being something that cannot be overcome. Considering where I have been in the past, I have nothing but gratitude for life today. In fact, I wouldn’t change places with anybody. And that’s what I’ll use if anxiety ever comes up again.
If you notice, this is not really a story about high anxiety, but about Spiritual growth. I have the problem, I have the solution. I paid attention and now I can see it arising before it can take over. And I know what tool to reach for. And I know how to use those tools to build shelter. I would go into greater detail about that, but that is it’s own subject for later.
Point is, life is a spiritual journey and whatever we face I think the work is to expand our vision. The key, I think, is that as I looked at my circumstances during the last attack, they were completely unchanged after. Except for my perspective. I need to make sure I’m looking at life through the proper lens.
Esoteric forays into mysticism provide results in this physical world.
Wanna talk travels?