Monday, January 12, 2009

Where I've Been

Maybe it started with the twitch. Or maybe it started way back with the twisting of my double helix. Maybe the moon was in the seventh house, Scorpio was rising, maybe somewhere in the Amazon a butterfly landed on a branch causing a brittle leaf to fall to the ground and the world was forever changed. It was small, that much I know. The twitching of my eye. Pulsating. Fluttering. A moth against a bare light bulb on a porch at night. Can you see it? I'd say to people, leaning my face in close enough to kiss, my breath fogging up every mirror with my scrutiny. And me being me I went home and Googled "eye twitching" and what was small became large, freakish, what was inconsequential became everything.

Because when you Google "eye twitch" you are likely to find websites about stress, yes, anxiety, but also websites dedicated to all of the dread diseases best known by initials, diseases made popular by Alex P. Keaton, diseases that send me spiraling into letters I cannot bring myself to put together. I mean, I fancy myself a feminist, but still, I insist on Miss or Mrs., never the other, no fucking way. Letters have power, thoughts are loaded, e=mc2 but there is still so much we don't know so I do everything I can to fool the foggy gods of my phobia, however silly it may seem. Don't believe everything you think, people tell me. So honestly? I don't know what to believe most of the time. I walk around believing in grocery lists, in the days of the week. Today is Monday and I hold on to the knowledge that my ferns need watering, that I have to fill up my car with gas. Some days it seems I exist on fumes.
I hate this about myself. That might be the worst part. How I hate myself for having panic attacks. How something happens, my eye twitches maybe, and then suddenly my world shrinks down to survival, as if someone has poured salt on a newt, and I lie there quivering on the floor full of hatred that I am weak, that I am fragile, that I am me looking through a thick opaque window at my daughter dancing in a princess dress, at my family, at the rest of the world rotating on its axis and I am still with the fear. It's harder to admit that than it is the panic attacks. Hating myself for them is my biggest shame.

Bryan has diabetes. My brother has asthma. Maybe you have something wrong with you, a bum knee, allergies, astigmatism. I don't judge you, only myself. There is something about panic attacks, phobias, depression, whatever. Something unspoken, broken, whispered about, snickered. Something less. And I think that the reason I hate myself is just a big clusterfuck of what I imagine people say about me, whether they do or not. She's crazy. She's weak. She's weird. I see these faceless people doing that little thing, twirling one finger around their ear to indicate that I am cuckoo, a third-grade taunt reserved for the playground. And I hate it.
I'm taking magnesium now. I heard that helps with muscle spasms. And B vitamins. I've been eating a lot of bananas for the potassium. My eye, it still twitches, and the corner of my mouth, too, when I think too much about it. But it's twitching less; I'm getting better. I watched a video yesterday of Barbara Walters interviewing Obama, and in it, his eye is twitching. Poor guy. He's under a lot of stress in that he has to find me employment. But my main job right now is to forgive myself. For being human. For the way my double helix connected, for the way the planets were lined up in the moment of my conception, for the butterfly in the Amazon, for the leaf, for the smallness of things that go bump in the night. Yes, I am weird, but I am also strong, and I am me, crazy legs and all.
*Images of sculptures by Ron Mueck. Click on images for source.

33 comments:

Vanessa said...

Susannah, I can totally relate. I take stress to a whole new level. It can be completely debilitating. It can stop you dead in your tracks and bring out the worst, the neediest, the most pathetic part of me. I don't want to sound all new agey (cause I'm not), but ave you read The Power of Now? Give it a try, it has made a big difference in my life.
I hope you're still working on your book. Your writing is a wonderful release that I look forward to every day. Take care :-)

hej said...

A beautiful, raw, powerful post on being human.

Mrs. Blandings said...

I can almost promise you it's the lack of sleep. Hang in there.

Richie Designs said...

I suffer from them too. I find that the more I tell people or joke about taking meds...the more people tell me they have them too.

you are not alone.

Richie Designs said...

uh panic attacks and occasional eye twitches!

Meghan M said...

So glad you're back.
I think most feeling/sensing folks (at least the interesting ones) go through these phases.
I liken it to a big shadowy dragon that wraps his cottony wings around me and won't let go.
Hang in there, m'dear.

Amanda said...

Susannah, I have found the the stigma attached to mental health has diminished greatly. I too suffer from depression and am medicated. I can tell you it has helped so much it is unbelieveable. I think that you have such a wonderful outlet to be open and honest.

You will get thru this, medicated or not. Don't fear what others think...you never have as far as I can see! See your doctor, I think she can help you out more than you might think. Situational depression is a very common thing, and you have the right to have it at this point in your life.

Good Enough Woman said...

A number of years ago, I had a significant eye twitch for several months. I thought it might be all of the incense I was burning. Doctor said my nerve might be just a bit "roughed up." It went away, but it took a while.

I know that doesn't address your grander, more profound questions/observations, but it's all I have.

Hang in there.

Courtney said...

glad you're back and we'll take you anyway we can get you - twitching eyes and all. you're admired and respected around here...you're real and raw and full of emotion. and we can't get enough and I can't quit sending warm thoughts your way. hoping things brighten up soon for you Susannah.

Megan said...

Take things one day at a time and don't worry about what others think, just take care of yourself. I hope you feel better soon!

Petunia said...

I know where you've been. I used to live there almost full time. My panic attacks only came while I was driving. I once walked away from my car on the side of the freeway swearing I would never drive again. It made my world very small for a log time. Meds over an eight year period help me so much. And it turns out more people than you would ever think, people you already know who you think are so together, have panic/anxiety attacks. Our every day lives are stressful, the big picture, well, that would drive any sane person into panic. There is no shame in being human. Go talk to your doctor. You do not have to live like that. You can find the other side of it.

Aartee said...

lol maybe that's why my eye is always blinking or at least so my husband says...glad to have you back!

Brandi Schaefer said...

I always though teye twitching was just caused from being overtired??
Your writing is beautiful and those pictures scared me a little bit because they portraited the emotions your were discribing exactly...

Michele King said...

Susannah, I too, had an unbearable eye twitch... came & went. I was also exhausted (3 kids under 8) but more than that. I had blood work done and it was a bad vitamin B12 deficiency. Had to go to the office and have shots once a week for a month and now my levels are so that I can take them orally. All twitching has now stopped. Although, I have a small mole on my arm that may look different......

so glad your back!

Olivia said...

Oh. my. god. THE TWITCHES! I get them (eye, lip, chin, you name it), and then I google, and then I am debilitated with panic attacks. (I too convince myself that I have the disease which shall not be named). I have been there, Susannah...and all I can say is that it feels exactly like how you describe it.

kristinimartini said...

i don't think you are weird, crazy or less than, i think "she's like me" and i don't know how to describe why, but it's comforting.

Petunia Face said...

I cannot thank you enough, everyone who has been so kind to comment and email and tell me about your twitches :) Honestly, THIS is why I blog. Thank you.

xo,
S

I *Heart* You said...

welcome back Susannah. i love how fearless you are in always being who you are. that is why we come back again and again to read the inner workings of your real and hilarious mind - because you are you. and we heart you.

Maggie May said...

i've posted about my phobias and panic attacks before and i'm sure i will again. i've had bouts of severe hypochondria and it SUCKS. THE INTERNET IS YOUR ENEMY DO NOT USE sorry to yell but this is crucial advice for anyone with hypochondria! those searches kill us. feel bette.r

Oh Brother! said...

From THE closest genetic match to you on planet Earth, I, your brother, can confidently say that I also get the eye and facial twitches. Have for YEARS. Maybe a decade +. Nothing wrong here (ok, ok, make your jokes now).

But seriously, from your brother who is more like you genetically than anyone else in the universe... we twitch, you and I.

So, sue us! :)

Really. I. Swear. To. God.

Love,

Bro.

Suzanne said...

i read you all the time but rarely post comments--just a lurker. BUT i want to tell you that when i had small children i was EXACTLY the same as you...sure i was dying of the next fatal headache. finally after a bit of counseling but much more soul searching i realized that the reason i was having them was because the idea of dying before my children could remember me filled me with so much terror i just could not rid myself of fear. This is how i got over it and it probably only worked for me but i forced myself to say out loud that there was every chance i could die tomorrow but whenever it happened, i WAS going to die some day. I know that sounds strange but I MADE myself stare my greatest fear right smack in the eye and slowly but ever so surely i recaptured myself. Now i try to do things that scare me as often as i can because i came to fully realize life is not a dress rehearsal, to sound trite, and the time i had been wasting worrying about the inevitable was surely going to never be returned to me. i hope this helps. your daughter is beautiful and what i wouldn't give to have just one day back with my kids when i was their sun and their moon instead of their next 20 dollar bill. take care girl

Paloma said...

Susannah, I can definitely relate. I have had some pretty dark moments recently.

Thank you for being so honest and open about your pain and your experiences. You are an incredible person and I promise that an enormous amount of strength lies within you.

I hope things get better for you soon. XOXO

southern daze said...

You are amazing! I love how you open yourself up for all of us to see and let your fears be known. You are incredible, eye twitch or no eye twitch, and I hope you're able to see that. My goodness how I wish more people were like you. Now stop beating yourself up and focus on your fabulousness!

Gypsy Lynne said...

We are all weird in our own way! I tell myself that anyways. :) A favorite quote of mine:

"The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well." - Joe Ancis

amy b.s. said...

Susannah,

I wanted to thank you for your blog. Although I don't keep up with it as much as I'd like, I have to say each time I read it I find it thought provoking and appreciate your raw honesty and your ability to put it all into words. It really is most inspiring. and so real. So thank you.

monkey said...

i have these moments...i can remember three of them in particular. where i can't leave the house. am afraid to even step outside the doorway. am claustrophobic and agoraphobic at the same time. can't breathe. feel bruised and raw and powerless to the utter lack of control i have over the situation.
thank you for sharing this with us. it made me feel hugged.

Regardez Moi said...

My eye twitches, too. only the right one, and it twitches sort of behind my eyelid. that started a few years ago. then, yesterday, for the first time ever, it started twitching in the space between my eyebrows. what a strange sensation.

magpiesandmagnolias said...

Such an honest and touching post! I just wanted to say that I saw a Mueck installation at the Fort Worth Modern Museum and the pieces are truly haunting. He creates the most lifelike human bodies in miniature and gigantic form down the the hair folicles. I highly recommend seeing an exhibit of his if one comes your way.

Patois said...

I get that some see some diseases as lesser, less worthy, less everything. They are wrong. Do take care.

Kwana said...

Oh I'm so with you. It's stress, depression, freaking life closing in. I get it. For me it's migraines and the twitching and now hand numbness. Breathe. Just Breathe. You're fine and not alone.

MJ said...

I love this post. All of a sudden...I feel okay. Maybe because I've just realized I'm not alone. My eye twitches too. Andrews has been in NYC. I'm not good alone. I hate being alone. I get scared when I am alone. No that's an understatement, I become a nervous wreck filled with the worst and most frightful images. I have had had shooting pain in my lower back/buttocks, to the point where it's unbearable to walk. I don't have a job. I am trying to sell a house. I haven't talked to my Mom since two days before my wedding, I seem to find myself caring the weight of the world on my shoulders. Literally. I went to the chiropractor yesterday, he said the pain in my butt is caused from the stress I store in my neck and upper back. If you could see my bare shoulders and back, I look like a body builder, not because I have been to the gym, god it's been months, but because of STRESS. I can't help it. What else are you supposed to do with all the stress? I can't sleep. I'm alone in my bed without my husband and I hear noises ALL night. I watch too much 20/20 Mystery Murder and Nancy Grace and America's Most Wanted. I have visions of someone breaking into the house and killing me and Andrews coming home and finding me dead. Horrible huh? I can't stop thinking about it. I can't control it. So I was up until 3:30am, cleaning...I find that cleaning keeps my mind off of things, I decided tomorrow night I will paint the bathroom. So the other night it was 3A and I was painting our bathroom, but then I heard and say something. I saw a hand reach into the bathroom window knocking the blinds away. I ran out grabbed my cell and called Andrews, in NYC. He was sound asleep and I am panicked. It felt like he was really annoyed with me and said something like, I didn't realize how bad this was with you, maybe we should get someone to stay with you while I am gone. I felt horrible. And of course, while I am on the phone I go outside with a flashlight and no one is there. Just my imagination. I feel crazy, I feel like there are things that I have no control over and it consumes me. I'm pretty sure I need to be on medication. But this post Susannah...has done something, it's made me feel that I'm okay and that there is really nothing wrong with me. Take a deep breath, now exhale, and breathe.

Jayme said...

I had a terrible twitch that started in my eye and moved to one side of my face. I slept with my hand pressed against my face to try to hold down the spasms. Everyone noticed my drooping, twitching eye and crooked smile. Unfortunately, it lasted over a year. My eye doctor thought it might be a nerve being compressed by a blood vessel or something, but told me not to worry. (Ha!) After trying all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and other herbal supplements, and anything and everything to relieve stress, I gave up. Until my friend, the spa manager, suggested Botox. I had a few injections done at the dermatologist. It worked. It really worked. I had it done about twice a year for two years. That was 5 years ago. I haven't had a problem since. The spasms never returned. Botox - not just for the plastic people.

Mollie said...

Hun, I just have to tell you that you are more normal then you know! I am an ER nurse and emergency mental health nurse, and I see people dealing with your problems, and things ten times worse on a daily basis. There are TONS of people struggling with your same issues (I have anxiety issues too :) So know that!