Ever since November, I have had nearly crippling anxiety.
It makes it difficult for me to go to any event that might be loud. Even dinner parties frighten me.
I can’t drive. I’ve driven more in the past two months than the three or so months before, but freeways are nearly impossible. I used to drive LA traffic almost every day, and now I can’t stand almost-rural-middle-of-nowhere traffic.
Elevators have begun to bother me deeply, too.
At the library, I have to use the elevator every day. The only way I can shelve the non-fiction books is to put them into the elevator and ride with them up to the second floor. To make matters worse, this particular elevator has a history of problems. Less than 5 months ago, on my birthday, a kid got stuck in the elevator between floors. I can’t help but think about this every time I find myself in the elevator.
Every day, I fight the urge to stick the cart in the elevator, hit the “2” button, and run up the stairs to meet the books. But I don’t. I get in with the books, and I stare the opposing wall down as the elevator lurches and drags to the next floor. I tell myself that every time I do this, I am facing my fears and my fears will eventually go away. They don’t.
The interesting thing is that while my anxiety holds on with its death grip on me, my fear of babies is subsiding little by little. I still avoid the children’s section if at all possible (it usually isn’t), and I still find my heart flip-flopping at the sight of a baby or the sound of a giggle or cry. Pregnant women still make me feel a deep, painful emptiness in the pit of my stomach. But I don’t cry as much when it happens. I’ve emerged from my maternity leave bubble where no one had babies (because I was home most of the time and there were no babies there) to the world where everyone seems to have one.
I still have the pangs of sadness around children, and they tend to hit me off-guard more often than not. But it’s getting better, and I’m getting better at avoiding the triggers when I can predict them.
I wish the anxiety would hurry up and go away.