What High-Functioning, Low-Level Panic feels Like

Well, first off, it's chronic, unless it's not.

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is frantically taking notes while having a heart-to-heart with a friend because you don't want to lose their loving words. You don't want to forget the part when they said you are amazing. You are strong. You're fighting the good fight. You're healthier than you think. You are not sick.

It's finding an activity, any activity- having a solo dance party until midnight at your empty yoga studio because you just can't go home yet. And you like dancing, but really it’s a carefully choreographed distress signal, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head, like they were a toddler.

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is being so hungry but you don't want to eat. Nothing sounds good. Nothing tastes good. It won't go down well and it won't come out well, so you might as well just be hungry.

It's having orgasms that sound like you're terrified. Because you are. 

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is rolling your eyes when a dear friend texts you multiple times a day. You just want to be left alone and for Christ's sake, WHAT do they want this time? And why do they want YOU? 

It's when you really want to talk to your Mother, but you just can't pick up the phone. You wish you could. But you can't. 

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is your heart racing while sitting perfectly still. And nausea. And imagining yourself vomiting so much and so violently that it's cathartic. Like, the devil would be expelled from you. And God that would feel so good. You just want to get it out.

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is very similar to depression. But you're not depressed. You can't be. You're NOT depressed. And you don't need medication. Okay?? Got it??

It's trying to speed up conversations with people so you can go right back into your head to sort through things and figure out what you need to do to feel better. To feel whole again. ...it's also not being able to figure out why in holy hell someone is so interested in taking to you. I mean, fuck. 

You're irritable. So very irritable.

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is like holding a baby that won't stop crying. And you've tried everything. Almost everything. You haven't tried the thing that might work, because, well, it might actually work. And then what?

It's wanting so badly to be touched. By another human. But every time you are, you're only focused on when they're gonna get tired of touching you. When it will end. Because it will always end before you're ready for it to. 

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is keeping mental score of how many times you've reached out to a friend for help, so you don't use up all your turns. Oh, and your "turns" are based on your warped definition of friendship and how little you feel you deserve it.

It's imagining how you'd one day unload, emotionally. Really fall to pieces. Come undone. Lose your mind. Where you'd be. What you'd be wearing. Who would see it. What they would think. How they'd respond. Where the camera would be. What the Director would want.  

High-Functioning Low-Level Panic is TV shows on DVD. Always playing. Season after season after episode after episode after episode. Background noise. There MUST always be background noise. 

It's confusing replying to a text with being chased by a lion. It's also when answering a text impulsively and thoughtlessly is an act of bravery.

It’s sobbing because the worst-case-scenario that just went through your head at high speed seems so real, so vivid, that even when it’s proven to be untrue, it takes hours for you to feel calm again. Hours.

It's knowing that no one really knows you. Because if they did...

High-Functioning, Low-Level Panic is also...

a quiet knowing; a knowing that nothing is permanent. It's a very subtle yet recognizable suspicion that this will pass, and only its gifts will remain; a desire for a higher standard of thriving and a lower tolerance for suffering. It is the knowing that a good first step is staring at it in the eye and calling it by its name. 

High-Functioning, Low-Level Panic knows that just because its high-functioning doesn't mean it's healthy. High-functioning is not a noble way to suffer and it doesn't pretend to be.

It asks us to pause for just a moment and breathe. And phone a friend without the urge to take notes. To just listen. To just be listened to. And personally, my High-Functioning, Low-Level Panic reminds me to use my oils consistently. And do Yoga (only some days. Other days it's the worst idea ever.)

Hang out here, my friends. Make friends with whatever you've named your feelings. They are here to transform you, move you, test you, love you...and it may not seem like it today, but in the end, it won't let you down. And neither will I.

 

Wholeheartedly,

Erica

Things I Didn't Know About Our Genie

It's Hanukkah, 1992. My Dad goes to his closet and pulls down a beautifully wrapped box from the highest shelf; lord knows I can't freaking wait until sundown to open gifts. I hungrily tear the paper from every side but the scotch taped ones. I know what I'm about to see. The shiny, Star of David print wrapping paper, now a pile of trash on the living room floor and left in my tiny hands is a bulky, heavy, cumbersome box, housing my very own VCR! "Daddy! We have to set it up in my room, now!" And I scamper away like a bunny on methamphetamine, ushering my Dad to my room...as if he doesn't know where he was going. I do some kinda "potty dance" in anticipation of him plugging in the magical machine, and after he "activates" the VCR, he presents me with an accompanying gift...Aladdin. I pull open the thick, Trapper Keeper like box, take the video out and eagerly push the plastic black rectangle into the brand new machine. I can still hear the tiny whines of the paleolithic apparatus, as the movie begins. My Dad insists on fast forwarding the film, to make sure both gifts are up to snuff and working properly. He presses play and up pops our beloved Genie, singing "You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me".

So, that's my story of how Robin Williams came into my life, enriching, enlivening and impacting my childhood. I'm not even gonna get in to how after I saw Mrs. Doubtfire I gathered every toothpaste, ointment, paste and shower product in my house and tried to make "plaster" for my very own Mrs. Doubtfire mask. The mask didn't come out quite right and it took forever to get the A&D Ointment out of my hair. We live and learn.

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It's truly phenomenal how quickly and with such passion blogs, articles, vlogs, Facebook posts and tributes have been composed in honor of our extremely talented, one of a kind and deeply significant Robin Williams. I say "our" because his work, his words, his presence and his influence has affected and/or inspired us in some way. I can feel it in every tearfully written status update, every television interview and in the eyes of people I see in person, everyday.

Though there are plenty of articles commenting on Bipolar Disorder, and Clinical Depression, as well as attacking the way in which he died and unfortunately bashing his children, there are even more heartfelt, genuine and sorrowful pieces that do honor the notion that this is a great loss for us all. To me, this is what keeps us connected in a culture that continuously finds more ways to disconnect.

I humbly admit Mr. Williams' death has opened my eyes to the seriousness of depression and mental illness as a whole. I've always considered myself to be somewhat worldly, extremely empathetic and attuned to darkness in the human experience. But I didn't know Robin Williams was suffering from mental and emotional illness. I didn't know he'd been battling with deeply rooted feelings of sadness, hopelessness and isolation. I didn't know our Genie's pain would kill him. I didn't know it could kill him, or anyone. Sadly, I don't  think the folks passing public judgement on his illness know much about it either. If they did, perhaps they'd understand that a person's emotional, spiritual, physical and intellectual experience on this earth belongs to them and only them. It is not always meant to be understood, analyzed, exploited or judged.

Having said that, I want to acknowledge that no matter how many medicines we manufacture, affirmations we hear, therapy sessions we attend or self help books we read, we human beings are incredibly sensitive and vulnerable creatures. We're the only species aware of our own mortality and collectively, we are exposed to the uncertainties and inconsistencies of life on a minute by minute basis. The outside world, as well as the world we create and call 'home' in our mind, can be a very frightening place. The out pour of support and resources for those suffering through Depression, Bipolar and any other mental illness is so wonderful to see. This is us taking action and responsibility for one another.

So, my friends, I am profoundly sorry for Robin Williams' family's loss. I am deeply sorry for mine, and I'm heartily sorry for yours. Through compassion and giving each other unconditional permission to grieve this loss and validating each other's sadness, we do become closer. It is a good idea to reach out and hug, text, call, message or french kiss (if appropriate) the ones we love and appreciate; not because we don't know how many days we have left, but because we fundamentally, spiritually and radically need it while we're here. Period.

We don't always think happy thoughts, we won't always like our body, we're not 100% satisfied with whom we call our friends every second of the day, but as long as we cultivate and create awareness about each other and go to sleep each night wishing well for others, we're in good shape. Because in this life, on this day, in this moment, we never know   What Dreams May Come..

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Farewell, friend. Though you now know the joy of solitude, you will never be alone.hqdefault