Recipe for an Anxiety Breakdown
Preheat the oven to 375.
Put two weeks of project push into a large pot and let it simmer.
Add in a hundred or more emails reporting site problems, many of them different people reporting the same problem, all of which must be answered or otherwise managed. Most of them are nice people trying to be helpful, so make sure you answer kindly and with individual attention.
Sprinkle in a few emails from angry people who have taken a personal affront to the site changes.
Stir constantly to prevent scorching.
In a separate bowl put in a dollop of paperwork that you thought was finished, but isn’t, so now you need to run an extra errand.
Add a big glop of realization that you’ve been out of milk for two days and the kids have eaten all the frozen pizza so they start coming to you with food decision woes.
Slowly stir in 48 hours of focused parenting attention for a child who needs to be assisted to manage a heightened level of anxiety.
Contents of bowl will begin to thicken and be harder to mix, keep stirring anyway.
But don’t forget that pot on the stove. Keep stirring that too. You’ll just have to bounce back and forth between the two.
In a third container, pour six hours of driving, sandwiched between two necessary business meetings.
Crack in two doses of fast-food calories and diet soda with caffeine. Make sure it is more caffeine than you usually ingest because you need to be alert and focused for driving.
Set this aside where you can see it, and it is a little bit in your way, but you can work around it.
Are you still stirring the contents of the pot and the bowl? Don’t forget to stir.
On a cutting board chop two days worth of time into pieces so tiny that they’re barely usable for creative tasks. Toss them into the simmering pot where they vanish without a trace and without making a noticeable difference there.
Is your arm tired from stirring the stiffening stuff in the bowl? Switch arms, keep stirring.
Fold in an email from a teacher which makes you check your kid’s grades and realize that many of them have slipped because you haven’t been applying consequences and this kid will definitely avoid anything that looks like unpleasant work unless there is some immediate reward or a looming consequence.
Be angry at the kid for a bit, but you can’t talk to him about it right now because you can’t stop stirring.
Splash some guilt everywhere, pot, bowl, whatever that third container is, your hands, clothes, the counter, etc.
Realize that you’re running out of counter space and now you need to blend up some email responses to event surveys, queries about creative projects, customer support questions.
Also blend in the knowledge that there are packages to mail.
And prescriptions you need to pick up.
Realize that you’ve neglected stirring, but somehow you now need at least three arms.
Don’t pause to realize that perhaps you need help with this cooking project. Instead just move faster to cover everything.
Realize the oven is on. Is this project baking or cooking on the stove? You have no idea. It is just uncomfortably hot in the kitchen now.
Dump contents of all the containers, blenders, and whatever else you have laying around into the large pot. Contents will likely be lumpy, hard to stir, and the pot is almost overflowing.
Turn up the heat.
Add a tiny little event of miscommunication which frustrates the child who has been anxious. This event will be the catalyst that causes the contents of the pot to foam up, bubble over, sizzle in the catch pan on the stove, spill onto the floor.
Now there is a huge mess everywhere and it is obviously all your fault. Flee to room and cry.
Fortunately you have the formerly anxious child who comes and curls up next to you, pats your head and says “It’s okay mom, it’s okay.” and radiates calm comfort.
And another child who brings you the weighted blanket, which may or may not help you calm down, but the kindness definitely does.
And a husband who cleans up the mess, makes cooked food appear and brings it to you while you sit in front of a movie with snuggly children on both sides.
And another kid who’d been caught in the blast radius of the miscommunication and who brings you a drink to help you re-hydrate.
Let it all settle via a late night movie.
Have a better day tomorrow.
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