That Wasn’t Me #anxiety #mentalhealth

Last week, I had an anxiety attack for no apparent reason. I was all set to hang with some friends online and play Fate. Mic on, character sheet open, everybody in the Discord voice chat. The GM asked me a thing to help introduce my character, and I blanked. My brain asploded.

I panicked, typed my stock brb message, and got up, thinking I just needed a minute to stop freaking out. Because why was a freaking out? In no way did the situation warrant freaking out. The group was made up of people I’ve known as online entities for years, one of whom I’ve met in person on one of my many cross-country treks. We all get along and have good times.

The panic did not abate. My stomach made a valiant effort to reject my dinner, eaten an hour or so earlier (it failed, but it tried very hard). I disconnected from Discord and let myself chill.

Why in the bloody blue bleepity bleep did that happen?

Yes, I have stagefright issues and some general social anxiety, but this didn’t feel like that.

I slept, thankfully. The next morning, still off Discord, I stumbled across an article about the potentiality of problems with sunscreen. How human beings require some amount of sunshine, and many of us stint ourselves due to indoor lifestyles, fear of skin cancer, and other modern phenomena. Unlike most people, I derive an actual, measurable benefit from SPF 70 over SPF 50.

Then I thought about my latest few weeks. Despite all my wonderful, productive plans, I’ve been practically useless as a writer. Since mid-December, I’ve written two short stories (for January and February), and not much else. According to my plan, I should have another half novel written by now. And yet, I don’t.

Granted, I’ve read a few more books than usual, and I’ve given my brain some downtime to play games. But I can normally do that and also get the work done.

So I thought about things. And I noticed something about the placement of my desk.

This time of year, the sun does not come directly through my window. It’s too far south. In the summer, it blasts right in, filling the room way too early in the morning, through lunch, when it happily moves to the other side of the house. But in the winter, it barely touches one wall.

As it turns out, my desk and beanbag are typically positioned so I am nowhere near that sunshine. Besides this, I frequently forget to get up and open the blinds anyway. In the winter, it’s still dark when I sit down to work, so why would I?

After reading the article and thinking about it, realized I have not been my usual irrepressible self lately, and I’ve been feeling the stress of my ob instead of the joy. I spend little time in the physical company of those outside my immediate family, and work (or try to) almost constantly, so no else really noticed. Ergo, I didn’t really notice.

Until that morning. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds, so I took a walk and made sure to not wear a hood or hat so I actually absorbed some sunlight. Then I spent the rest of my day moving furniture.

The moving stuff in my room/office sounds like a simple thing, but I’m a clutter magnet. So I had to throw stuff out, move the desk area to a holding site, then move the bed, then move the bookcase, then move the treadmill desk, then move the bed again, then put the desk where it belonged, then change my mind about which way things faced, then move this other thing…

It took about 8 hours in total, and I still need to tweak everything so it all works.

Every day since then, I have made a distinct, sincere effort to get some sunlight. This can be a challenge here in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve had a string of reasonable weather days.

Four days later, I finally started writing again. (Not that I worked on the project I was supposed to, but I’m ecstatic to get back to anything at all.)

The moral of this story: I’m an idiot.


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