My house is in a state of complete chaos. This chaos perfectly reflects my state of mind. The simple truth is, I’m very alarmed by a convergence of two events, the economic collapse and the firing of my boss, so much so that, several times over the past few weeks, I’ve been overcome by panic attacks.
Panic attacks are a longstanding problem of mine, a problem that once crippled me but that, I’m proud to say, I overcame without the help of pharmaceuticals.
One of the problems with panic attacks is that the anxiety is often rooted in “truth,” as is the case now.
And the same is true now. There really is an economic crisis. Stephen Roach was absolutely correct when, way back in 2003 or 2004, he predicted Economic Armageddon. My boss did get fired, and even though they fired him for good reason, this has rattled me to my very soul. So there is more than a little rationale for my panic.
Even worse, though, my house is in complete chaos because all my free time has been devoted to painting or preparing to paint or thinking about painting. And chaotic places make my mind chaotic.
I’m far from a neat and tidy person, but when I know important things – like paying property taxes and electric bills – aren’t getting done because the bills themselves are buried beneath a pile of books and student papers and coupons I might use and old shoes and small paintings I was supposed to return to someone three years ago and unanswered letters and unopened notices and invitations, I get minor panic attacks. In real life, some people get upset because, these days, I tend to just charge ahead and do things instead of endlessly debating the details. But I do that because it’s my experience otherwise, nothing gets done, and when nothing gets done, I have a panic attack.
And that is, in fact, part of the solution for my current problem of daily panic attacks. I need to simply do the best I can to forestall possible disaster. This means, first of all, I really need to preserve my job because, without my job, I will lose this house, and I love this house.
Second, I need to make my environment as peaceful as possible. The only way to make it as peaceful as possible is to, first, make sure I’ve gotten everything done I need to get done (paying bills, notifying people, answering important mail) and, second, to clean the house.
There are a lot of other things I need to do — I need to return to my old habit of allowing myself the time to meditate and space out, I need to spend time staring at the ceiling and out the windows, and wandering around the park — but these are my reliable starts. These are the steps that helped me overcome panic attacks in the past, even in the face of the very real bases for the panic attacks.