Thursday, July 31, 2008

Death Anxiety

Aqua, "Destination Unknown" (linocut 1/5) 2007

Me: (Among a list of other things) "I have been sleeping a lot. I'm not sure if it's because I am tired or I just can't face doing things. I feel like I just don't want to do anything, or I have too much to get done and it's overwhelming. I can't face all the things I have to do, so all I want to do is sleep."

Dr. X: "Tell me your list of things you want to accomplish."

Me: (Completely misinterpreting "why" he is asking this question, because all I am worried about is losing him) "Why? Is this so if I need to be seen by someone else they will have a list of all the things I need to work on? So, they will know what I need to address in therapy?"

Dr. X: (Looking really perplexed, but trying hard to hide that) "No, you just said you were sleeping a lot to avoid things, or because you were avoiding getting things done. I was wondering what those things were."

Me: "Oh! Getting a job!"

Dr. X.: "You have a job. (referring to my volunteer work)"

Me: "I mean a job where I get paid; where I stop being a drain on the social services system; where I can take care of myself; where I don't rely on anyone else. All I ever heard from my Dad when I was growing up was how awful "those" people were (Hippies, the unemployed, anyone who wasn't working and paying there own way, anyone who needed help from anyone else). I have internalized my Dad. On top of that all I'm hearing from him and my one sister right now is do more and you will feel better, or (from my Dad) Why don't you get a job? A "real" job. Get it together."

Dr. X. "You are working at a real job. The system sets it up so you cannot win one way or the other. Maybe the Art Clubhouse should pay you a higher wage, so it would be seen more as work and more valuable by you and by others, where it could help support you. The big thing here though is your internalization of your Dad's criticism."

Me: (Feeling cared for and supported by Dr. X, but dejected; like I will never be a valuable human being). "I know. I am doing things that are important to me. If I worked for $10/hr doing something I felt was meaningless or purposeless I know I'd be even more depressed. I just never thought I would end up like this. I always thought I would move up the ladder in life (always moving forward, getting better jobs, getting ahead). I never expected to be on disability, to not be working, or to be unwell. I always thought I would do something with my life."

Dr. X: Silent (His specialty: a safe, reflective he is when he waits for me to figure out for myself that I am not thinking clearly)

Me: "I guess it is like the print I made for you last year..."Destination Unknown". (Thinking to myself how making that print for Dr. X may have been eerily full of the bizarre sense of magical foresight I seem to have sometimes. I made it to represent my struggle and how it is taking me in directions I never expected; and often didn't want, to go, but he clearly sits on that same bus with me now...that I never expected).

I was driven to make that print for him. I felt I had to give it to him. I messed it up so many times and did it over and over until it came out right. An intense dream created the metaphor of a bus taking me in an unexpected direction; I added the Raven; a trickster figure. He is devising, overseeing and fully intending whatever outcome occurs.

None of us knows which way our lives are headed. None of us can foresee the outcome. We are all on that bus whose destination is unknown. That scares the hell out of me.


Polar Bear said...

I know.

It scares the hell out of me too. No one knows what tomorrow will bring.

Sometimes i think I worry too much about the future. Someone said to me - worrying is such a waste of time - because often times the things we worry about never happen anyway. (I think that's not always true, but yeah, sometimes)

I was standing under a hot shower earlier today after a run in the rain, and I must have been experincing the post run "highs" when I suddenly thought - just breathe and live in this moment, right now, right here, because this is ALL we have. I managed to push all my worries aside for a while and just enjoy that shower - that moment, I was alive, and that moment is all I have.

Sigh - this sounded corny now that I have typed all that out.

Aqua said...

Hi Polar Bear,
It does not sound corny at all. It is challenging to try to get into those "be here now" moments. Enjoy them when they come.

I have so much anxiety, not really about what tomorrow will bring, but what I won't accomplish. My biggest fear is that I will die and my life will have been worthless.