Five: Anxiety

Twenty years after my initial diagnosis, when I finally sought chemical treatment for my ADHD, I happened into a secondary diagnosis. Describing my day, my rituals, my coping mechanisms, and how all of it stopped working c. 2020, my psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner said, in so many words, "Yo, that's anxiety, and it sounds like you've been living with it for a really long time." Ah, sure, cool. What can we do about that, and what will it look like when I lose my constant companion?

The biggest surprise was something so encoded into my day, I didn't even register it as abnormal, nor did I mention it to my PMHNP on our initial visit. The day I started desvenlafaxine, I stopped crying at commercials.

Used to be that emotionally-charged moments, certain chord progressions, or the prospect of long-term trauma would choke me up. "Are you crying?" was a daily question, and the answer was usually, "Yeah, sorry." Then it would pass and we'd go back to watching Wheel of Fortune or whatever.

This was with me since childhood. I have a distinct memory of watching Godzilla vs. Megalon, one of a dozen Godzilla flicks my brother and I recorded to VHS and played back ad infinitum. An early scene in the movie has the Human Character, his little brother, and a friend taking a bitchin' bird boat out for a cruise on the lake when the Inciting Incident happens, the lake is drained, and they rapidly come ashore and watch as the bird boat is sucked into a vortex. The humans are fine, a little shaken, but the boat, the fancy new boat, was destroyed on its initial outing.

Devastated. That thing was probably expensive, it made them happy, and now it's gone due to circumstances completely out of their control. Inconsolable.

Then it stopped happening. The first time it didn't happen, I clocked it: the end of a Pixar movie or something, there's an emotional moment, the music swells, and I don't cry. I had been living on the precipice for thirty years, continually nudged into the abyss, until someone had the insight to tell me, "You know you can take a step back, right?"

The anxiety is not gone. It's muffled, and when I miss a dose it comes screeching back. I'm feeling it especially hard today, but at least I'm not gonna cry about it.