There are some mornings you’ll wake up and nothing will feel right. You’ll be too awake, your hands will shake, and just one glance at the clock will make you feel numb. You’ll walk around in a fog, waiting for someone to hand you your Claritin-D, but you have no allergies and no way to understand what’s happening.
You’ll try and focus, but for some reason you won’t be able to make yourself care enough to stay on task. You’ll ask, what’s the point? Why bother? Why does it matter?
I have anxiety dreams sometimes. I think maybe we all do, but maybe we don’t always remember them or they weren’t enough to keep us awake. But sometimes, like this past weekend, they’re more than enough. My dreams unsettle me and throw me off balance. They bleach out my feelings until all I can see is black and white, yes and no, stay or go; there are no variables.
On Friday night I dreamed of blue prints. Intricate floor plans for room after room, they appeared three dimensional. I could walk through them, see them, understand them. I wanted to be there in the deconstructed space, but the anxiety was there too, lingering. Like I couldn’t have it, couldn’t want it.
On Saturday night I dreamed of apartments. Refurbished warehouse spaces and industrial lofts and quirky basements with black and white diner tiles. I saw them all in my mind, each one better and more unusual than the last. I wanted to live there, but I was afraid, too. In every apartment, I was alone.
Then on Sunday night I dreamed of changing jobs. I woke repeatedly throughout the night only to fall back into different parts of the same nightmare. New desk, new responsibilities, everything to be done differently from how I’d learned it. I couldn’t take notes, or type, or answer calls. I just stood there, confused and hurt until I would wake myself up again in a panic.
This morning I came to the same place I’d dreamed of, as I do every weekday. And I’m almost too afraid to admit that as I sit here typing this at work, my hands are still shaking, my heart is still pounding, and I’m not sure that I’m ok. I can still feel the dream. Am I even awake?
Society tells us that these are the things we’re supposed to do, that I’m supposed to be ok. I’m supposed to understand that what I do is “normal.” I’m no different than anyone else. And as much as I accept that and understand it, sometimes the idea of being here, day after day, makes me panic. I’ll zone out on the subway, forget what day at is, and wonder if I’m going the right direction. For a moment, I’ll even wonder if I care enough to check, but in the end I always do.
I’d like to think it’s because I come to my senses. I’d like to think that it’s because I find some small part of myself that still cares. But I know that it’s not. I go through the motions because I don’t know what else to do and on some days, like today, that just doesn’t feel like enough.
But I also know that I’ll forget tomorrow, that I won’t remember these feelings quite the same way. In a day, an hour, a minute, I’ll feel differently from the moment before. For better or for worse, nothing is constant and I cling to that. I have to.