I woke up in a good mood today. I woke up happy and relatively (within my own mom of two standards) rested. I worked out. Busied my older daughter with the iPad while I showered. Got my two girls breakfast. There was whining and a tantrum, but that’s normal for a weekday morning. That didn’t stress me out.
Then our cat barfed on the rug. Our cat has barfed on the rug before. She has barfed on the rug many, many times. However, last week our cat had radioactive iodine injected in her to cure her hyperthyroidism. So to clean up the barf, I had to don rubber gloves. I had to double bag the paper towels I used to clean up the barf. I had to use carpet cleaner, which I accidentally sprayed on her food. So I had to double bag the food. And wash out the bowl. Then I had to scrub the rubber gloves with hot water. All while two children piped in with questions and requests for water and OMG I’M TRYING NOT TO TRANSFORM INTO RADIOACTIVE-GIRL HERE!
Before all that, I was in a good mood.
Lots of days, I would have been able to brush off the annoyance. Even with the radioactivity (a sentence opener I don’t get to use very often), I could have moved on with my day.
Today, it stuck.
About a year and a half ago, soon after I weaned my almost three-year-old, I went on an antidepressant for anxiety. Not severe anxiety, but enough that it was interfering with my life. I’m one of the lucky ones in that the first medication I tried worked fairly quickly and I haven’t had any major issues since. I had a lady in CVS compliment my patience and call me a saint a few weeks ago. I still get stressed and have obsessive thoughts, but I haven’t felt that body-tensing, all-consuming anxiety since then.
Today I felt it.
My chest was tight, my limbs stiff. The deep breaths I forced myself to take weren’t working. If I didn’t have anything to worry about, why was I so anxious? What was the reason? There had to be a reason, so I could fix it.
I couldn’t fix it.
Years ago, I would have taken that snowball of anxiety and tossed it down the hill, watching with ever-increasing panic as it grew and grew until an avalanche formed around me. I would have gotten angry at myself and my body. I would have gotten so discouraged that the snow would have buried me completely.
Today, I didn’t do that.
My chest still felt like a snowball, tight, dense, and compact. That snowball was inside of me. I felt it. But I didn’t add anything to that ball. I didn’t keep it inside. I didn’t let it roll away from me, furious and out of control.
I set the snowball out in front of me and looked at it.
Then I invited others to look, too.
I reached out to my best friends.
I posted on Facebook and Twitter.
People responded. About their own anxiety. With hearts and hugs and “I’m here for you.” With “I’m in the same boat” and “I totally get this.” With “Thank you for your honesty.”
Some people attempted to melt my snowball, to smash it on the ground with warmth and light. Some people offered their own snowballs, just as tightly packed and dense as my own.
We put our snowballs together, big and small and somewhere in between.
We built a snowman. A whole village of snow people.
And out of ice and cold came something beautiful: a community.