Ativan & Other Things I Didn’t Need This Time Last Year

Apparently 2016 was just being cute.

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Mood.

A word about worry. My worries used to feel normal. They came and went like cherry season and there seemed to be a balance to the good and not good of life. That’s not the way it is anymore.

2016 was a garbage pile of a year, but throughout it, I didn’t carry with me a hiking backpack stuffed with worry. I had (blind) faith that a career politician would win over a rotting persimmon in a bad suit, faith that our country was open to the idea of being led by a woman, and faith that racism in this country was, if not getting better, at least not getting worse.

I’ve since come to understand that I’m an idiot.

In 2017, my worries are legion. Sometimes so high in number I can’t calm down, focus, or sleep. Will North Korea bomb New York? Will we start banning people from other countries even though we, as a country, are all from other countries? Does being white and so unaware of how persistent and engrained racism is in this country make me, in fact, a racist? Will transgender people be barred from the military for no goddamned reason? Will our planet devour us because we don’t take care of it and because we definitely deserve it? Will the grizzly bear survive? Will NASA still get to send us to the stars?

And that’s all between the hours of 8–9pm when I’m no longer at work, commuting home, hastily feeding myself some sort of hacked-together sustenance or taking a shower and completing a chore or two. These worries are just what happens when everything else slows down. And these worries say nothing of family, work, or personal concerns of my own, which all seem so minuscule compared to things that could negatively affect so many millions of us as a group.

So each night, before bed, my new calming evening ritual is an all consuming panic attack. Previously, a nice glass of Sancerre and an episode of Criminal Minds (preferably one with Paget Brewster) could do the trick. Now, I try some kind of sensory help like a fidget cube. And if that doesn't work, I have to try really hard to complete a guided meditation. And when that doesn’t work, I have to take Ativan.

I don’t mind the help of medicine to bring my body and mind back to center. I don’t mind changing my routine to accommodate the realities of life. What I do mind is that this time last year, even when things seemed shit, things were actually just fine. Now nothing is fine, every week lights a new fire, and I’m wondering how to get from here to 2020 in one piece. I worry we are being broken to pieces.

I don’t write this from a position of being able to give advice. I just woke up at 6am on a Saturday and made tortilla soup, I’m quite certain I’m the last person you should trust for behavior insight. But I am tired of not talking to other people who feel worried to tattered rags. I’d like to find out what other people are doing to continue on during the Reign of Toddler.

If you have any ideas, leave them here, and accept my sincere, anxiety-riddled thanks from beneath an Ikea down comforter where I cower, I wait, and I worry.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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