Friday, 23 August 2013

Academia with anxiety disorder

The amazing «The Professor Is In» just linked this:
A Slate article on living and working with anxiety disorder in academia.

Vignette: frozen grin anxiety

Last weekend I had an anxiety attack. It came out of the blue and struck like a hammer blow.

We'd already gone to bed, when suddenly I start imagining that S doesn't want to as much as touch me. This happens a lot when I crash out. So I nudge away, and then my emotions just go into free fall. Horrified with myself and the audacity of daring to stay in the same bed as S, I sneak out. I sit down on the floor, trying to collect myself. I eat a banana because I realize, intellectually, that this might all just be blood sugar. And I take care of putting more clothes in our hampers, so it's all ready for the laundry early next morning.

Through all of this, I feel a fuzzy, ill-defined utter terror. I feel a deep and consuming despair. It gets strong enough that I can feel my face contracting into a grinning rictus of horror. It'd be hilarious if it wasn't so bad.

I sit there for quite some time. 10 minutes maybe. Maybe 15. Then suddenly, as if a light switch was flipped, my face relaxes, my whole body relaxes, and I am able to move again. I go back to bed, sit on the edge. S stirs, asks me how I am.

And I explode into hulking sobs. It takes me several minutes to even get any words out.

This one was scary.

On my facebook today

Nothing is appealing.
Nothing is appetizing.
Nothing is attractive.
Nothing I do works.
Nothing I do is a good idea.
Interacting with colleagues is terrifying.
Interacting with cashiers is terrifying.
Other people are terrifying.