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your father's still perfecting ways of making ceiling wax

by mg at 01:57 PM on February 20, 2002

I am experiencing what I can only imagine to be a complete and total nervous breakdown.

If you know me in real life you know me to be a very calm person. I donít know if that piece of my personality comes through my writing, considering that my ďthe bad SamaritanĒ frenzy is a bit of a caricature, but the reality is Iím quite tranquil. My friends might say that nothing seems to faze me. That I always seem to have things together. Iíve got a calming demeanor and a soft voice.

Yet, underneath it all Iím as manic as a Monday with the Bangles.

It may not be evident, but my mind is always racing a millions miles a minute. I worry, I fret, I freak out, but I donít let that come out.

The past couple crappy weeks (a subset of an entire crappy year) have been more rollercoasterish than a weekend pass to Six Flags. Sure, there was an equal ratio of good to bad (as far as I can tell, though Iím no Pythagoras), but the good wasnít all that good and the bad was plenty bad.

The thought of going over everything again, here, now, in front of all of you, is enough to send me into another panic attack. Did I mention Iíve been having panic attacks?

Iím not practicing, but I try to live me life by some basic principles, one of which is the Zen ideal that you shouldnít worry about things, because you have no control over them, and worry is therefore a wasted emotion. I agree, and I really do try to live my life that way.

This past year, suffering through unemployment for so long, it was a great comfort knowing I had no control over my life. Iíll either find a job or not. The rent will either be paid or it will not. Worrying about it wonít change a thing.

But, yet, somehow, I donít know. The part that never jives with me is having ďno controlĒ over my own life. I know worrying doesnít make a difference, but I do have control over my life. If you just let life carry you where it will, like a fallen leaf on a stream, you may not end up where youíd like in the end.

For the past year, Iíve been letting life carry me away, and Iím certainly nowhere Iíd like to be. I sent out hundreds of resumes, but the job search was passive. When I started this recent temp work, it wasnít me who found the job, but the job that found me. I did it because it was something to do, and because I really needed the money.

Iíve been drifting aimlessly in my interpersonal relationships as well. Letting others make all the decisions and do all the work. It didnít matter if loved someone or not, but whether they loved me. With my friends, I didnít put in any effort. Iíd go out when asked, but thatís why I spend most Saturday nights, home, alone and watching Boy Meets World.

Things came to an almost cinematic head the other day. Iíd been letting everyone and everything make the decisions about my life but me. Event after event after event, all in the span of a couple of days kept knocking me to the ground. And then yesterday morning, I had a panic attack that physically knocked me to the ground.

When I finally was able to stand up, both physically and mentally, and look around at where Iíd let life carry me. The tiny estuary my leaf had fallen had carried me right into the mouth of sewage treatment plant, and I wasnít going to come out clean on the other side. No, at this plant it was shit in shit out. I realized this was someplace I really didnít want to be.

That realization certainly doesnít get me anywhere closer to my final destination, or help me figure out what the final destination might be, but at least I know which way is the wrong direction, and I wonít end up smelling like shit.

comments (17)

I know what you are talking about. I've had a panic attack before. In my profession, i am jobless quite frequently, so i think I am learning how to deal with letting life take you where it wants to. I wish you luck.

by Sarah at February 20, 2002 2:11 PM

so, you're saying you feel a little like this...

hey, me too, not that that's any help. i just have very quiet panic attacks, not the physical kind anymore, just my brain feels like a meth-crazed hamster in a wheel.

by kd at February 20, 2002 2:27 PM

What you describe pretty much covers the last year of my life. Wish I had some advice to dish out, but I don't. Let's just hope we make it to 2003 with our sanity intact.

by Xkot at February 20, 2002 5:13 PM

What the hell are you talking about kid? I dont get it.

by Tom at February 20, 2002 8:01 PM

hang in there, mg - i've been there too. broken record dept: breathe deep and try yoga. i'm not kidding, it's the only thing that helps me for panic.

by lavonne at February 20, 2002 10:14 PM

Working off limited information, but here goes-- you should see your doctor about this. He/she can't get your leaf floating down the right river, but can get the attacks to stop coming while you figure out what's what. Before you hurt yourself. And I say this because I've been there.

by Jean at February 20, 2002 10:51 PM

Hey kd - you know Dondavid? He's a neighbor of mine. I am hoping to convince him to sell some of his work to me.

mg - you should read Being and Nothingness by Sartre. I think it's the best examination of what we can control in our life and what we can't.

by Charles at February 21, 2002 2:06 AM

mg, you okay today? just checking.

by lavonne at February 21, 2002 10:59 AM

Isn't that why people take Paxil?

by Lindsay at February 21, 2002 2:46 PM

Charles -- i looked up "nineteenth nervous breakdown" to make sure that was indeed the correct song title, & found that in the search results. amazing artwork. very fitting, to the song, & to this post i thought.

mg -- howya doing? ok, i hope.

by kd at February 21, 2002 9:46 PM

as everyone else is saying, hang in there. i was a big panic attack princess before and had them recur during the september goings on. they're awful. i had one earlier this week for the first time since then. i think it's maybe because i DO have a job now, but i'm not sure. unemployment is awful and it sounds like you handle stress like I do.

i'm trying SO hard to get back to the type B personality that i used to be but that cringy freaking out stuff keeps coming back.

by kittenesh at February 22, 2002 1:33 AM

Ahhh the "Pristine" department....I could go on and on about, "How it will get better" and "How you gotta just hang in there baby" and all that crap'o'la but what ye need here is some truth. It is the cure all to cure all. YOU GOTTA GET LAID MY BOY!!!! Now brush off those jeans, put on your cleanest dirty t-shirt and go get laid! No just kidding, honestly Mg, A life is only a the life that we make it to be.

"Man is free the moment he wants to be."


"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us."

Joseph Campbell

Huggles MG, don't think I am not around think happy thoughts for you, because I am. :-)

by Pristine at February 23, 2002 1:25 AM

Sealing wax.

by at March 22, 2003 12:11 PM


by jINGLES at July 31, 2003 6:57 PM

i know exactly what you are going through. last year, at this time, i felt like i had the world in my hand and now i have lost interest in a lot of things. i don't feel like the same person. i am experiencing the break-up of a four year relationship and i feel as if i have lost part of myself. and yes, i know all about the things one can do to make herself feel better, but doing these things, right now, doesn't interest me. i hope you are feeling better. if you are, please let me know how you did it.

by sandradee at October 9, 2003 1:40 PM

I deal with Major Depressive Disorder, Milder Bi-Polar, Major Anxiety Disorder, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Personally, I think the higher the IQ, the more "whacked" you feel, and perhaps, are viewed by the rest of the world. Take an IQ test if you never have, and I think you'll see one answer.
People who aren't so "blessed" in the IQ area just simply don't analyze things to death, and really, probably don't think about a lot of things you do at all.
If you want to see a shrink, go because his intelligence level is possibly close to yours, and they get paid to think about everything you think about for free. I don't think meds are necessarily the answer. I've tried many, with little success. True, Xanax is the silver bullet for a panic attack if you are HAVING one, but you can't pre medicate, or take them to prevent ever having an episode. You just have to carry them around in your pocket.
Another problem with the IQ thing is that you sound like you lack direction... don't know what you wanna be when you grow up. I still don't, and I have three children with Mensa IQ's who seem to be following right along. The problem is KNOWING that you should be making a difference somehow. A mark on the world. And you should be paid to enjoy your job. Mainstream school systems crawl compared to the way my children's minds work, so the one who is College age is fearful that College will be a replay of High School. So he is undereducated on PAPER, and is dealing with the same things you are dealing with. Periods of unemployment, depression, feeling worthless, getting a job at an entry level position and hating that until he breaks and leaves.
If you have any artistic ability at all, multiply your problems by a thousand, then do what you do. Paint, create, write, but USE your talent in a way that fulfills you, and work the entry jobs for food and a roof.
You aren't alone. There are a lot of us out here. We are the ones considered strange.

by Emil at October 11, 2003 4:44 AM

i know exactly what you are talking about! i haev gone through hell for over 4 years now from doctor to doctor. thank God that now, i feel slightly better, but i can assure you that i have been on the real edge many times. the sense of insecurity is overwheling but finaly i have come to the conclusion that i cannot control everything.

i am 34, have had strong panic attacks since first change of school at age 10, i remember i was already worrying about how the rest of my life woul be convinced ui would never be able toachieve anything. at 34 i have been through huigher education, university, a posgraduate degree and more that 13 years working in software development in spain, the uk, and finally sunny california. in california i reached the top, then i crashed on a visit back to my parents. sicne then been thorugh 4 years of hell, with very, virtually null self esteem, inside my head had 1000s of negative thoughsts a mnute, so CBT was useless. in the end, i decided to go to a psychiatric hospital because i wasnt getting any support from psychioatriosts i was seeing (he gaev me the w3rong medications!!!!!!) so in the end in hospital in spain and with heavy medication doses and an underlying will to live have survived.

i have personally found that activities like draring and painting help me. i have also restablished old relationships and that helps, i also try to control my thinking now and have used tai-chi and yoga to balance emotions.

i have decreased worry about future now because have finally accepted i have no control over it, although i am worried of course. i am trying to lie there some solid foundations but i must admit it is hard.

although it is hard, it is worth it. my doctor told me to read a book which has a lot of messages in it.... its called the little prince, for me its useful as i have been living at very high speed until recently.


Written and illustrated by
Antoine de Saint Exupťry

best regards

by mike at May 16, 2004 1:38 PM

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