The 2008 recession hit my family hard. For about a year we were homeless. Mostly in cheap motels, but for a few weeks in a homeless shelter. After a few shaky years, we stabilized. We are not back to where we were, but we are okay now.
My emotions never stabilized. I had anxiety before the recession, but it was mainly social anxiety. Our year in hell changed that. During that time my anxiety went off the charts. Not just socially, but in general, all day, every day. Nighttime didn’t bring relief as I rode the waves between nightmares and insomnia.
Today I am still a wound-up ball of anxiety. I’m not quite as bad as I was those first few years, but I’m far from normal.
Need for Organization
I use planning and organization as a crutch. Intellectually, I know that it only gives me the illusion of control. Emotionally, I feel safer when I have everything planned out and everything in its place. I usually over-react when plans are changed last minute because those changes bang on my anxiety panic button.
My son understands this is a trigger for me, and he does his best not to change stuff up at the last minute. However, sometimes, crap happens, and I just have to suck it up.
Sleep? What Is That?
Sleep is sporadic. I will have periods of time when I sleep a reasonable amount with just a few wake-ups during the night. Other times I can barely cobble together 2 hours total for the night. It has been some time since I have had the worst of the nightmares where I would not even go back to sleep after waking from one of them.
My boyfriend died six months ago after battling brain cancer for almost a year, so a lot of my current sleep problems are related to grieving and not the anxiety.
Buying Too Much
I have a weird compulsion now to buy more than we need or will actually eat. A few days ago, I read this story by Shanta Grimes:
It resonated so much with me and, for a brief time, I felt less alone. I also stock up on stuff because it is on sale. Even when I know that nobody here will eat it. Or even likes it.
I have to use my organization to control myself. I print out a detailed site-specific list and force myself to only buy what is on it. If I go wandering or listless, I’m screwed, and we end up with food we don’t have use or room for.
The bottom line is that safety is a missing part of my life. I don’t even remember what it feels like to feel safe. I think somewhere between my abusive childhood and the start of the recession, I did feel safe, but I can’t retrieve the memories of those emotions. When I try to think back and remember what it felt like, hoping that I could recreate it, I get a 404 File Not Found message from my brain.
I don’t know if my anxiety is blocking those memories or if it actually erased them.
I have just had to make peace with the fact that anxiety is the foundation of my life now. I can work around it and still get things done. I can still find some happiness in life. But I can’t imagine a time when I will just sit back, sigh, and relax. The idea that everything will be okay is bullshit. Or at least that is what my anxiety tells me.