Me:1, anxiety:0 – in my 30’s

Ever feel like your drowning in responsibilities and there’s no way to find your way out? Well that was me on Monday. This morning I had an interview at 8am, and tonight I leave at 8pm to fly overseas for a few weeks. This weekend I injured myself at volleyball by ripping out 2 earrings that caught on the net and hurting my index finger as well. It was suggested to me that it may be broken, but I’m taping it up at the moment and hoping for the best. And my ear, well, there’s nothing I can do but wait for it to heal and for the swelling to reduce. And I was fighting off a head cold, so all in all, this weekend I did not feel great and I spent the days recovering and not preparing for my trip or my interview aside from doing basic things like printing reports and doing laundry. I’m also trying to sell some stuff on gumtree, and learning a song for my mom’s wedding (because yes, she wants me to sing: which is nerve-wracking because I don’t sing anywhere other than drunk karaoke or in the shower), and trying to clean up my flat for a stupid rental inspection… this is a lot for me to take on – especially when I suffer from anxiety.

Monday I leave work intending to have a hell-productive evening and thus, when I get home I cook up some dinner, sit down to eat it and hear my cat come through the window… with a live rat. Or mouse. I thought it was a mouse, but I’ve been told it’s a rat so that’s what I’ll call it, but whatever it was, it was a rodent that should not be in my house. She lets it go and it takes off under the coffee table and thus begins Monday’s rat race (see what I did there?). The cat and I finally managed to corner it and I got it outside eventually – after what can only be described as a Chevy Chase movie script in the making – and spent the rest of the night cleaning the floors of rat blood and other nasties it was trailing behind it. And that, in the midst of the rat race, is when I reached my stress limit.

It was dark and I saw a shadow with a tail run and my cat close to its heels and I first turn my flashlight on knowing full well that there’s something in the flat. I get to the lightswitches, turn them on and know where the creature is based on the cat’s behaviour. She’s got it trapped under the coffee table. So in a panic I empty the laundry basket full of clothes (that I had JUST finished folding) and tip it upside down – well, the handles are higher than the basket so it doesn’t sit flush with the floor. So I’m in a panicky state and I remember a big plastic punch bowl I have in my kitchen. So I’m standing guard on the coffee table holding a punch bowl when the thing runs out. I’d like to say I dealt with it calmly, but I can’t: I screamed like a child seeing a ghost. The cat fortunately had better senses and followed it into the kitchen where she’s continuing to play with it. It’s not big, and she’s having fun, but I don’t want a rat death in my home and find this torturous to the poor little rodent. She she corners it and in I come with my punch bowl… I managed to get the bowl over the rat against the cat’s wishes, and then I had no idea what the hell to do. I was so caught up with catching the rat. And that’s when panic started to set in again. I called a friend – no answer. I called another friend – no answer. I looked through my phone to see who else I could call and that’s when it hit me:

I’m not this useless, I’m just overwhelmed. So I weighted the bowl down with the closest thing I could find (happened to be one of those big bottles of bleach) and I sat down. Right on the floor, right in front of the bowl o’ rat. I sat and watched my cat run around the bowl trying to get in and the rat, running around inside the bowl, trying to get out. With one trying to get in and the other trying to get out, it reminded me of the scene in the Lion King and the exchange between Timon and Zazou: “Let me out! Let me out!” “Let me in! Let me in!” and then I just couldn’t help myself: I started laughing uncontrollably at the ridiculousness of the situation, and I self-talked myself down off of my metaphoric ledge. I was nearly paralysed with panic; not only because of this rat, but the rat was the last straw in a fairly stressful few days for me, but at the end of the day, none of it was too much to overcome.

Continuing with the Chevy Chase themed hilarity, I got the rat out by sliding an old pizza box (thank you lazy dinner the previous night) under the bowl, holding the bowl still and firm with my chin (so yes, my face was next to the rat with only some plastic between us), and opening the door with my free hand. I walked it down the driveway and into the parking lot while I wore my fuzzy slippers and set it free in a bush on the edge of the property. Proud of myself, I took the bowl and I headed back down the walkway near my flat… where my cat jumped out of a bush and scared the crap out of me! Bowl goes flying over my head and I start running up the stairs taking 2 at a time when I see her pass me, even more terrified than I was because of my reaction. I’m laughing as I type this out – in hindsight it was hilarious. At the time, I screamed bloody murder, almost started to cry, and knocked my shin on 1 or more cement stairs. Once I realised it was just the cat, I stopped, went back down to get the bowl (ever so thankful it was plastic), went into the house, poured a stiff whiskey and took a big drink, and then I started cleaning the floors.

This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I am so proud of how I was able to reassess the situation midway through and realise that it was not worth all the panic I was feeling. I’m now through my interview, at work on a break, and I haven’t even started packing for my trip – on which I will leave in 6 hours… but instead of freaking out, I’m just so damned proud of myself for handling that problem on Monday night. Last night (Tuesday), I got home with such a level head I couldn’t believe the calm and peace I felt the night before an interview. And this morning? Same thing. I woke up tired (I’m not a morning person) and instead of succumbing to the stresses of leaving tonight and the interview this morning, I casually got ready, caught an early bus, ate breakfast, had a coffee and showed up to the interview: on my terms. I wasn’t nervous, I did the best I could and I really feel like I crushed it! 🙂

So, for this round at least: me: 1, anxiety:0


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