Because in a box of chocolates you certainly do know what you’re going to get: there will undoubtedly be chocolate. I don’t care if it’s chocolate covered peanuts, coconut, cherry, or shit, it’s still chocolate. Chocolate is sweet. When mixed with peanuts or sea salt we call that savory. You may not know the flavor you’re getting (although all you need to do is look on the back of the lid) but you will know it’s always going to be sweet or savory. Unless you’re one of those unfortunate people allergic to chocolate or peanuts in which case ignore every word up until this point.
Life is not sweet or savory. Life is like Wheel of Fortune with an infinite wheel and you’re playing blindfolded. You could be sitting on a million dollars and a trip to the Bahamas and then all of a sudden you’re bankrupt and the Bahamas just seem like a waste of cash you no longer have. Half of the time you don’t even know what hit you. You have something, then it’s gone. You know someone, then they’re gone. You live your life and then you’re gone. It’s some kind of vicious cycle that may be so completely random that it’s utterly organized.
I was feeling good this week. I spent some time outside, went bowling again, went mini-golfing (something I usually hate but actually enjoyed) and got my cars ball joints fixed. I have all these projects I’ve been planning for about a month now–including buying a new computer system to add to my three laptops, getting into more graphic designing and photography (two things I’ve loved for a very long time but never had the patience to master), getting all my supplies prepared for this semester starting August 31st, and even getting back into making digital rap beats for online sale (another thing I’ve enjoyed and never had patience to master). I feel good about all these things. They give me a reason to wake up, they give me a reason to feel and act positive, they give me a reason to risk sleeping every night.
And then here we go again: waking up after ten minutes of sleep, heart racing, limbs tingling, throat closing up, and my brain absolutely convinced I’m not real, I’m not me, I’m not in reality; I’m still in a dream. At five thirty am I’m jumping out of bed and racing into the living room to pace, my only solution to these sleep attacks. I hate panic attacks in the day, I hate panic attacks in my sleep, I hate panic attacks in general, but these particular ones are traumatizing. To wake up thinking i’m on the brink of death, waiting for the white light to come sweep me up and drop me into Satan’s gaping mouth (he’s such a slut) is not the way I pictured my morning starting.
They used to happen every week or so, until I learned they came only when I’d been ignoring something that caused me anxiety, something I should have been facing. I’ve always had anxiety, but I didn’t start having panic attacks until the week before my first semester of college and ironically a month or so after I got off some medication. For three years now, they’ve been interrupting my ability to be a student. They send me to the hospital and charge me 13,000 dollars, and they make me drop classes that keep causing them. I have a prescription for Ativan but let’s be honest here people: fuck benzo’s. They’re too much for me. I end up in and out of a fog for a few days and wake up unable to remember the last forty eight hours. I haven’t taken it in a year. It’s just sitting in its little orange bottle giving me the puppy dog eyes and crying when I slap it across the room. I don’t have time for useless treatments. I have better success in stopping my panic attacks by pacing (or any repetitive motion really), breathing with a ten second rule, and carefully navigating through my head for reasons of why this could be happening. It might take an hour or two, but at least I’m not suppressing it all with a stupid white tablet.
So I was happy, and now that’s gone. I’m achy, I’m tired, my head is throbbing, I’m tired, I’m hungry, and did I mentioned I’m fucking tired. Here’s another sleepless forty eight hours on the way.
That’s the thing about anxiety: you have to plan your life according to its rules. If it says you shouldn’t do something, chances are you won’t do it. If it says someone’s going to die if you step on a crack in the sidewalk you’ll spend your whole life skipping. If it says every word out of your mouth is stupid, you’ll spend your whole life not talking. If it says wake your ass up and pace around like an idiot because you’re about to die–oh wait just kidding; you’re going to wake your ass up and pace and not laugh at the joke it’s just played on you. It’s not because you’re weak, it’s because fear is strong. If fear wasn’t strong, we’d all be dead. We’d be walking along the Safari, whistling with our shirts and pants made of meat and we wouldn’t flinch when six lionesses charge from the brush.
I don’t want to be stronger than fear, I want to work with fear. I want it to be my business partner, not my C.E.O. Even on days like these when I’m completely beaten, ready to throw in the towel, I’m still thankful for the way I am and the differences that make me who I am. So life is like nothing. Life is just life. It’s random, it’s organized, it’s chaotic, it’s tidy, it’s obsessive and compulsive, it’s enjoyable, it’s deplorable, it’s everything and nothing. But it’s certainly not like a box of chocolates.