While I was sitting in class today simultaneously taking notes on the lecture, answering e-mails for my internship, and organizing my notes for an event on Friday, panic blew up like a fifth grader huffing into a wad of double bubble in my stomach. It was accompanied by the ever familiar feeling of a pulled plug in my mouth, drying it out like the mojave desert.
I’ve been having a lot of these physical manifestations of nerves and panic lately. It never really happened to me until I was well into adult-hood, and then it was rarely. Recently it’s been worse. Maybe because I’m nearing the end of a lot of years of schooling and finally feeling at peace with my calling. Maybe it’s because I’ve matured enough (unlikely) to see the consequences of my failings. Maybe I am developing a panic disorder. Maybe it’s a new symptom of my ADHD. Maybe it’s a parent thing (oy vey the world we live in!)
I am also really really terrible at self-care. So today, when I stared at 10 fresh e-mails on top of other unread e-mails in my inbox while we went over a paper due the following week in class that I know I don’t actually have time to do and thought about my husband I’m basically neglecting, and my child I feel I barely spend time with that bubble of panic swelled and swelled and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and I got dizzy and nauseous and post-class had to make a break for it.
Leaning over that toilet and still seeing a few stars, I gathered my thoughts a little. I knew a lot of what I couldn’t do to rectify this recent bout of strange bodily activity…i.e. I couldn’t actually cut back on anything. All of these things I HAD to do. Because they all mattered. When people tell me to slow down and I give them an indignant look it’s not because I supposedly worship being busy and want to feel this way, it’s because I live in a culture and a climate and a country that demands it (a rant for another time). I am not celebrating my own busyness. I wish I wasn’t spinning all of these plates and had time to do the things and be with the people I love for the amount of time I want.
So in that star-spangled moment over the toilet, I realized at least a smidgen of what I could do.
I sat down in the cafeteria and pulled up Microsoft Word and wrote myself a quick memo:
This is hanging above my desk that is currently unusable because of all the things I have on it that need sorted and done and organized.
Well, it’s a start.
And maybe you need this memo too.