Saturday, May 22, 2010

Collapse - Up Close and Personal

WARNING! My thoughts are of such a dark nature these days that I have been hesitant to share them. I thought about starting another blog where I would be more anonymous. I don't want to concern or hurt anyone in any way. But for my own sanity, I want to share openly about the things I perceive. If you think the subject matter might bother you, please do not read further.

It becomes more and more difficult for me to function within society. I overestimated my readiness to return to the workforce and took on 3 new jobs in one week. It was a costly overestimation. I'm now down to one job 35 hrs/wk and having difficulty maintaining it. I've only heard one description for the type of anxiety I'm experiencing - PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Last Thursday, 3 hours into my shift, I had a major panic attack followed by an emotional meltdown from which I'm still reeling. I could not regain my equilibrium that day and had to leave work early.

The first thing to be affected by an attack is my breath. Suddenly the air will not move beyond the top of my chest and the more I try to force it, the worse it gets. The panic rises with each shallow breath, I feel the sweat break out on my face, noises become unbearable: the ding of the cash register, the jolt of static from the radios, the hard light, the hard people. Sights and sounds begin to merge until nothing feels solid anymore. Reality is a full-steam ahead freight train headed straight your way. Logical thinking disappears and pure instinct is all that remains. My language and actions are hard to control and the only option that seems practical is to GET THE HELL OUT!! As soon as possible!!

The job is a cashier position at a local home and ranch store. The rate of pay is a new low for me, but I like the store and it's grand central for gardeners in the area. This was my 2nd meltdown in the three weeks since I started, but the first happened at the end of a shift and I was able to regain my footing, however tenuous, until Thursday. For the following 18 hours I just cried, a lot.

I've spoken with my parents, always loving and supportive, and my mental health therapist with whom I have an appointment on Monday. I also spoke with my manager at the store and he wants me back next week. Sometimes kindness makes me cry more for awhile although I've learned to be leery of it as well. It often comes with a high price-tag, although I don't sense an underlying agenda here. That's one skill I've been steadily improving.

When the oil disaster in the gulf began, everything I've leanred over the past few months became more ominous. I think it's impossible to become really aware of the state of the earth and her inhabitants and not be affected by it. Media news would be laughable if it weren't so sad, and bad I might add.

Did you know that GM and an american electric conglomorate are buying large swaths of Brazilian rainforest?
They say they're acquiring "carbon credits", business as usual only they seem to know the commodoties are going to be oxygen, clean water and farmable land. Big Auto, Big Oil and the government show no signs of remorse or responsibility. If you still think anyone whoever ends up in the White House is not a puppet already, I feel sorry for you. I had high hopes for Obama. Now I have none.

Did you know that Henry Ford gave his wife the electric car he designed because it was so much cleaner, more efficient and easier to maintain?

There is one thing I don't think the big guys are counting on: not only is it not nice to fool Mother Nature, it's impossible. We are part of Mother Nature and when we abuse her we abuse ourselves. If she dies, we die. Even if they counted on disastrous climate change, they must realize it's a total toss of the dice who will make it and who won't. All the carbon credits in the world won't save them from our fate.

Despite working through a lot of my own denial about civilization's collapse, and even more importantly, the extent to which we as a nation are complicit, I was still shocked to see BP officials and the Coast Guard working together to cover-up what's happening with the "spill". I wonder who asked the locals if they thought it was a good idea to pour toxic dispersants over an already over-heated Gulf of Mexico. Might as well call it the Gulf of Texaco now. Trust me, the gulf is not a "big ocean" as that asshole from BP would have you believe.

As the earth warms and warms, my blood runs cold and I despair. I can't tell if the PTSD is post or pre. The only safe place is the present and I find it increasingly difficult to stay here. I'm practicing DBT skills in earnest: tactile information. What do you see, feel, hear, right here, right now. Touch something. Hold ice in your hand. Breathe if you can. Ground. Small ritual helps a lot. I add to my compost pile. I help Peggy in her garden. Every bite of fresh food is sacred, clean water a blessing beyond belief, the warmth of the body next to me comforting. I call that prayer.

Mom says we just can't think about these things and I know she's right - we can't dwell on them. But I am unable to not think about it. I could go back into one of my addictions or bury my head in the sand some other way, but I won't. It would never feel right to me. If all I can do is be a witness at this point, I'm goddam well going to be an awake one. I may be herded into the inferno along with everyone else, but I'm going with awareness and hopefully a little courage and a whole lotta grace. By the way, if I thought I could distract myself from what's coming, I probably would. My distractions are currently all used up.

So I gather dandelion greens. I watch the hummingbirds, the red-tail, osprey and eagle. The sky is still blue even if the Gulf of Mexico is black. Right here, right now, I have what I need and I am grateful.


Kelly said...

Angela, Your mom is very wise. Keep using your tools for coming back to the present moment. Hold an ice cube! That is a really good one.

Olivia said...

Oh, Angela, I wish Chani were here. She would understand, truly. She had various meltdowns if she would ever get inspired and want to work a job, just as you described. She also was disturbed about our society in general.

The only way I get through life is by understanding my spiritual purpose and why I am here. Thus, if life swirls around me and I do not fit in I still have a port in the storm. I know that you have a spirituality---cling to that and continue to investigate what you are here to do right now, what your purpose is right now. And Kelly is right, be present.

I do believe that we each have a purpose and are here for a reason. That purpose can change, but there is a reason we are here.

And to balance what you let into your world from the environment. Monitor how much spiritual food you put in compared to news and information. We can only take so much at a time, each of us, and it needs to be balanced with what we need to handle what we hear. If we do this then we cqn continue to be a positive force, even at a small or "low" level. I believe that each of us makes a difference, way more than we think we're making.

I always appreciate your honesty, Angela, and am glad you are continuing to be honest and real here.
Much love,


Diva Carla said...

Glad to hear from you Angela.
I think you did well to drop two jobs.

Does your town have a transition initiative?, I think. There is one in Sandpoint, ID. They are showing up everywhere, even in far off places like yours.

I live like your mom, not thinking about it, and not listening to news, etc, but I am getting more like you. I notice all the ways I don't want to change my waste and convenience, and the incongruities are becoming annoying. When they become intolerable, I'll change my ways.

Deborah said...


Thank you for coming to the familiar - your expressive nature is so deep in you. It is you. Your writing is quite crisp right now.

I also get panic attacks. I take medication - fortunately, only when I am panicked, because it's one that is abused quite frequently. Panic will drop me to my knees - no doubt; without meds I could not work.

It may be time to look at disability. I don't know, but wish Chani were here to advise you.

Much love,


media said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.