Anxiety Keeps Me Company Before Conventions

I’ve been running full speed since Monday morning. I’d reached the week when all of my “I’ll do that later” tasks had become “Do all the things right now, hurry or it will be too late” tasks. Then I dropped eleven packages off at the post office so they could travel to GenCon. Also some price quotes from printers came back and showed that my shiny merchandise idea was not feasible to turn around before GenCon. I still had a big task list, but all the frantic “get this done now” energy was gone. Naturally that is when the anxiety struck. I’m great in crisis or crunch time. I pay for it later. Three days of pushing hard means I have to wind down afterward.

Anxiety chased me all night through dreams with hotels, conventions, missing children, natural disasters, and chainsaws on poles. (The imagery for that last one being the result of the pole saw we purchased for trimming trees. Apparently my brain considers chainsaws to be lethal weapons likely to jump out at people and cause harm. I don’t trust them. But we had a job that needed one, so. It is out in the garage. Just sitting there. Waiting. (Yes I know my thoughts here are not entirely rational. I also know that I really shouldn’t nest parenthetical thoughts. Apparently it is a nested-parenthetical kind of day in my brain.) The box it came in had a picture of it on the side. It was across the room from me while I wrote this blog. I had to get up and throw it away because the picture was making me nervous. But this isn’t a post about chainsaws. The chainsaw is parenthetical.)

I’ve come to an understanding with my anxiety. Sometimes it will show up and yell at me, but I’ve stopped automatically believing everything it says. In fact during the daylight hours I can often stop it before it has any chance to make noise. Which is why it tends to spring on me in those spaces between asleep and awake when my higher brain functions have shut down to rest. I’ll be half asleep and suddenly convinced that the slight twinge in my neck means I have a blood clot in a major artery and it is about to travel to my brain and kill me dead.

I also know why the anxiety is triggering now. I’m trekking through the pre-convention emotional minefield where pockets of old habits and remembered emotion have laid buried since I crossed this same ground in the years before. This time last year was when I came face to face with a major failure. I’d had eight months to set up a point of sale system and I didn’t do it until almost too late. The emotional fallout from that was very memorable and it is why I reacted so strongly to the news that my shiny merchandise idea won’t work. All those failure feelings echoed from last year to this year in an emotional time-vortex. That point-of-sale experience was the beginning of me being able to see how some of my financial and convention management decisions were being driven by anxiety and avoidance rather than considered thought.

This week I felt the pull of old habits. I felt the urge to not bother Howard with information that I thought would stress him. In the past year, I’ve learned that an information vacuum is far more stressful to Howard than a piece of bad news, particularly on financial matters. I’ve been striving to provide regular reports and to not fall into the old patterns. I’ve integrated the new way of thought into regular life, but in preparing for GenCon I’m having to pay attention to my processes instead of just dusting off the habits from last year and using them again.

Sometimes I need to hold information until the right time to share it with Howard. If Howard is in a creative zone, then talking finances will knock him right out of that place. If I time things particularly poorly I can kill an entire day of creative work. If I time things well, the exact same information can be a short business meeting in the middle of a productive day. Judging what I should handle without bothering Howard, what I should ask him about, and when I should ask it; these are the hardest parts of my ongoing job. In relation to GenCon and other large conventions, my parameters for making these decisions have altered since last year.

Knowing why anxiety is giving me grief today does not make it easier to banish. I do have medicine I can take, but taking it impedes my ability to accomplish other things. Perhaps that is what I need, to be excused from accomplishing for a day, but it is very hard to give myself permission to do that. I want to get things done. I want to see projects complete. I want to see that the financial recalibration we’ve done this year is bearing fruit. I want to see the kids do their chores and take them some place fun. I want to trim the trees, weed the flowers, and turn the patch of dirt where our deck used to be into something lovely. I also really want to walk over every inch of this emotional ground and make sure there aren’t any more hidden pockets that might explode.

It is funny how I can have a mostly good day and still be wrestling with small surges of anxiety all the way through it. Life is good. I’m accomplishing things. I’m just more tired than necessary because I’m also expending energy managing these dumb little adrenaline surges. Hopefully a solid night’s sleep will help me reset. I just need to not be running around in my dreams.