Friday, February 13, 2015

Anxiety Hill


If you have ever grappled with anxiety and live in the Boston area, this winter is like Guadalcanal, the Battle of the Bulge, and Stalingrad combined. (Can you tell I'm a history major?) How can a human being with unique brain chemistry cope with three weeks of snow storms?

Well, for storm #1, Juno, freak the fuck out. Buy every grocery item you could possibly need, fill up your heating oil, buy a new shovel, and research how to use planting pots to heat a room. Because the memory of Nemo from 2013 is fanning the anxiety flames in your mind. What if I'm stranded again? What if I lose heat and power again? What if a water pipe bursts again? The night before the storm, cook up a bunch of meals that could be eaten warm or cold. Then remember that before you were medicated or done therapy, you had bought a Red Cross emergency pack stuffed to the gills with survival gear. That is when the rushing thump of blood in your ears starts to get quieter.

Quincy received 3 feet of snow in two days Tuesday and Wednesday. I chose to park on the street not in the driveway because my landlady’s son was out of town. He sometimes plows the driveway and other times yells at us for asking for plowing. After I had my car accident with neck and back injuries, my request for plowing help was met with a, “I don’t run a home” response from him. Class Act. My workplace was closed for two days. We didn't lose power thanks to the snow being fluffy but the winds were howling. The new shovel I bought is great but the mouth is two feet wide so you wind up lifting a lot more snow than you are used to. So I hurt my back in my first round of shoveling. I also chatted with a neighbor from down the street who brought up another anxiety I grapple with. Neighbor lives with an elderly person with medical issues and our street was so bad, emergency vehicles would never be able to make it to his house. I know it is very unlikely that the stars would align for me having a second stroke during a blizzard but that possibility haunts the back of my mind. I have nothing to fight that anxiety.

The people who live in my building have all been incredibly helpful. Second floor guy shovels and salts the driveway. First floor couple shoveled out my car during Juno. I baked Thank You cookies and gave them a card. Juno was very bearable thanks to them, power, fluffy snow, work closing, and copious amounts of French toast.

The next week Monday we got a foot of snow. Work was not closed so I had to take a personal day since my street was impassable. Again amazing shoveling teamwork from all. There also is a guy on my street who owns a plow and he basically cleans up our street since Quincy just sends a front loader once. Everyone keeping up with the snow math? We're up to 4 feet of snow.

The next day, the entire train system for Boston was a wreck so work was delayed until 11:00. I got on a train at my usual stop around 10:00. The trip on a normal day would take thirty minutes to get to Boston. I sat down and noticed a lot of unhappy faces and grumbling. So I asked my seatmate what train was it. It was the 6:00 AM departure train! It had taken them four hours to travel seven stops. The train did not move for an hour and then we were asked to de-train. In theory another train was coming to pick us up. I called into work and took another Personal Day. Annoyance trumped anxiety for this round. Commute annoyance and not having a work from home option.

This past Monday and Tuesday, Quincy got over 2 feet of snow. My landlady's son plowed over my only snow shovel in the middle of the storm. The bright orange shovel. This is when I started to feel the crazies creep in. I had no tools to get out and there was nowhere to put the snow. I started imagining using Tupperware as snow scoops. Second floor neighbor drove out to buy a shovel. We had been sharing my orange shovel since his had broken.  For those playing along, this puts Quincy at 6 feet of snow.

Since I take the train into work, my commute has been a mess for two weeks. I'm lucky when it's under two hours. I have to admit the Commuter rail passengers have kept my spirits up. Lots of nice chats with strangers and a level of exhaustion combined with a dark sense of humor. The subway passengers are either awesome or complete assholes. A lady was shoving into me as I got into a packed subway car tonight bitching about how she had been waiting longer and I have no right blah blah blah. I took a step out of the car and said, "Well, you win. Have a nice Valentine's Day." After that, an awesome gal on the platform complimented me on my response and we joked around a bit.

Today all the 6 feet of snow weighed me down and amped up every worry ever. I had to have a good cry in the bathroom at work to feel relief. Why? Because we're supposed to get another foot of snow Sunday!! That is 7 feet of snow in total. Yeah, "May you live in interesting times" is definitely a curse.

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