Worry Stones

I used to be so big and strong
I used to know my right from wrong
I used to never be afraid
I used to be somebody
I used to have something inside
Now just this hole it’s open wide
I used to want it all
I used to be somebody

Nine Inch Nails “Down in It”

I mentioned my affinity for astrology in an earlier post, so I’m not going to feel bad (much) by telling you that I have become devoted to worry stones. I have a primary one that is by me daily. It says “Relax”, and I bought it for myself in Asheville in 2019. I liked the sentiment but put it into my nightstand drawer for almost two years. This year, I finally took it out and placed it next to my laptop so I could see it. And then I started picking it up and rubbing my fingers across the letters etched on it. And now it has become comfort.

Truthfully, I have found myself taking it with me everywhere when I need the reassurance. And it is reassurance. I never thought a rock with a word etched on it could help, but it does. But then there are a number of things in the last few years I never thought about, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised. Comfort can come from the most surprising places or things.

I’ve bought worry stones for others. I don’t know what they really think of them, but I hope, at least, they know that someone out there is thinking of them and that these stones bring them some small comfort.

I can’t remember if I talked in detail about the anxiety I have developed the last few years. I, well, I have. I’ve always been a somewhat anxious person, but it has become worse. Worse to the point that when it is at its zenith, I can’t leave the house. And now that I am the sole caregiver, that anxiety is heightened. That’s the fun thing about anxiety: anxiety begets anxiety. And couple that with preparing to return to the office, hiring, busy work times, workers in the house doing a variety of much-needed jobs…I could go on, but you get the point. It leads to a lot of anxiety. I have always suffered from depression, but I have told many that with depression, I can function. Anxiety has brought me to my knees, and that’s a terrible feeling.

It has not been a few good weeks for me. I could feel the anxiety building, and as I said, anxiety begets anxiety. And believe me, I am medicated and therapized. It’s also incredibly humbling. You feel so out of control, and it is difficult to talk about, especially to those who don’t experience anxiety. There is this odd dance of “I’m still competent, yet I cannot do this thing.” And “sometimes I may overreact to things that seem small and insignificant.” I feel under a lot of pressure, and I’m trying SO hard to make it look like I have my shit together or at least keep my shit together. I will acknowledge it, but I do not wish to be debilitated by it.

I know a lot of that pressure is self imposed. No one is perfect. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, especially when you are possibly least able to do so. Last time I checked, though, life doesn’t consult you on a fucking thing. It is what it is. But I am trying.

And…my body has decided to let me know it has needs too. I developed dry eye syndrome two years ago and have been wearing glasses for all this time. My eyes have a regimen to treat them that is impressive actually: drops every few hours, eye exercises and warm compresses for 20 minutes a night. I haven’t seen much improvement yet, but I’m not fond of my glasses, so I’ll be seeking follow ups.

And then there’s lymphedema. Apparently I have developed it. Most of the time, cases are caused by cancer treatment – which I have not had – but it turns out there is a small subset of people who are genetically predisposed and primarily women in their late 30s and 40s. It’s – I’ll be frank – utterly humiliating and certainly not attractive and also painful and irritating. Swollen feet. Swollen ankles. Sensitive feet and ankles. And there really isn’t a treatment for it other than massage, compression garments and elevation. And on top of returning to work and trying to do everything else, I’m dealing with this. My shoes don’t fit. I’m already anxious. Can’t wear my cute skirts. Guess who never thought at 44 she’d be researching compression hosiery?! Lose 40 pounds, now require compression hosiery. On the plus side, I did ask my occupational therapist to try to identify compression items made in NC. Might as well, right??

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I have beach trips planned for the summer. I’m talking to friends about other trips. I’m having my hardwood floors refinished. I’m making improvements around the house. I am trying to continue the march forward even though some days it feels like it’s happening against so many constraints. I’m trying.

April was a good month. I bought myself a ticket to see David Sedaris, and I bought a good seat. Center section, fourth row. I’ve decided that if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right. It was an excellent seat, and Sedaris was hysterical and awesome. I’d wanted to see him for years. Then, on April 28, I attended my first concert in decades. I went to see Nine Inch Nails (row X, center section). It was a great concert. I have seen them before. In 1995, I saw them with David Bowie. Then I was, “oh, I’m seeing NIN and David Bowie is there.” Now I’m like, “I saw Bowie!!!”. It was a good show, but I definitely couldn’t stay for all the encores although I did drink wine out of can. That was weird.

So I’m trying. As always, some days are harder than others, and I feel empathy for Atlas, Sisyphus and Prometheus. But I also try to give myself – and others – grace. This life shit isn’t easy. Not at all.

One comment

  1. My MIL has lymphedema— hers is the normal post breast cancer kind.

    I sympathize on the anxiety. My thing when it gets bad is to hide in my closet under a shelf and behind my skirts.

    Good luck!

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