They want me to write a gratefulness diary. Those folks at the Anxiety Disorders Association of the good old US of A. They say if I do this, I will get out of the future ‘What if I never get out of this?’ and the past ‘What if it stays the same as it has been?’ and get stuck into this breathless moment. The now that is so supposedly perfect. Not marred by the darkness of past. Or the void which looks to be the future.
They want me to be grateful about now. Right now.
Now, as my body shakes so hard I’m afraid I will kick my head with my knees. The now when my fear of throwing up is stopping me from eating anything. And the now when I fear starvation so badly I keep shoving morsels of food into my mouth so that I don’t starve, making me even sicker, even more queasy. They want me to be grateful for the now.
Last week I was at the movies, a free movie, season tickets won by my writing skills, loving every moment. Even bad movies can be good when they’re free. The sky was large above us, a limitless expanse. And I was free, unlimited as the sky. Free from panic, free from woe.
I have a photo. Me and Chris under a great fig tree, smiling. Wishing the summer would never end.
Today I can barely step outside my door again. The corridor sways and I know I must. I walk, count my steps, one, two, three, with the rapid metronome of my heart. This monster has been unleashed again, but I will not be taken hostage. I will not visit this closed in space again. Not for long. No.
And I count my way out to the park, fifty, sixty, seventy steps. And I sit there on that bench til my heart stops boxing against my lungs. Every day in every way, life gets better and better. And I think how much I dislike the person who made that phrase. Why do I have to endure this again? Why can’t I be that person of last week?
And I get in my car and I drive again. I drive my block. And I round the corner again, and my heart threatens to break the land speed record, and I carry a plastic bag at my side if I should balk. Just like I used to, before the dawn of time.
Why? Why? Why? But there are no answers. Just the switching on of the car, that familiar park I got to know so well ten years ago. Before life began again. Before the movies, and bush regeneration, and the macro world of my insects so open and wide and brimming with life.
I have to make this shaking stop. Somehow, I need to go back one week. Not ten years. I have come so far since then, travelled a world of blocks, shops, parks, homes, since then, learned so much about courage, hope, tranquillity. I need to switch the light back on but I can’t remember, how did I do this last time?
I counted my steps until I didn’t have to count any more.
I turned the key, when all I wanted to do was stay in my room.
I picked up my camera, and focussed on the growth of life outside.
It doesn’t help to ask why anymore. It just is. And I know what I have to do to get back. I just need to keep opening that door. Keep turning that key.
Today, heading out into the cool Autumn sunlight I forgot to count my steps. And so my journey back has begun. It won’t be so long now. I’ve visited here before.