I admit it. Lately, I’ve been a Netflix binge watcher. I have a stack of “to-be-read” books piled on my night stand. Another stack on my book case, waiting for me to crack them open, not to mention the dozens of unread e-books on my Kindle Fire. I even brought another stack of books home from my boyfriend’s house just today. I made a goal for myself to read at least 10 minutes everyday, but I have fallen short of that goal lately. I’m not sure what has me bogged down and unmotivated to read.
I only plan to watch one or two episodes, but an episode ends on a cliff-hanger and Netflix so helpfully just starts playing the next episode. Before I know it 7:00 PM turns into 9:00 PM and it’s time to get ready for bed. I look at the book I need to start reading soon (as the book club discussion is only a few short weeks away). I start reading the first few pages, my eyes get heavy and I find I’ve read the same sentence five times. I give up and turn out my light only to lie their wide awake.
I start thinking about that last episode of “On My Block” I watched. If you haven’t binged it yet, it’s a pretty good show. In the episode, Jamal, one of the main characters is having an anxiety attack and talks himself through a breathing exercise to calm himself down. I remember as I was watching it, that I made a mental note that I should try it myself the next time I felt the edge of anxiety coming on. What was it that he said though? It was something about “blow out the candles…” Yes! That’s right, when he exhaled he said “blow out the candles” to himself. But what was the inhale phrase? I could not remember. I took a deep breath…what were the words I used in that last meditation I did? “Ease….Calm” or was it “Peace…?” But what did Jamal say? And why can’t I just fall asleep. And who cares!
And then like that, my mind reminds me it’s September. Ugh September… How did it get to be September already? It was just May wasn’t it? It’s an even number year you know…my mind taunts me. What does September and even numbered years have to do with anything? Everything and nothing. You see, one of the first times I had a full-blown anxiety attack was in September and it was in an even-numbered year. Fast-forward to another even-numbered year in September and another panic attack. And so the pattern formed and potentially a self-fulfilling prophecy. One therapist (I’ve seen many over they years) thought maybe my war with September had to do with going back to school and separation anxiety of being away from my mom after being home all summer. Maybe? I don’t really know for sure.
However, I’m proud to say that it has been many consecutive even-numbered year Septembers without having an anxiety attack episode. I’ve let that superstition pass by (although writing that does put a little trickle of fear run through my body…did I just jinx myself?) and I’m not worried (not really) that this September I’m fated to fight with anxiety. What tamps back that niggle of fear is knowing that even if I were to have a panic attack in the 18 remaining days of this month, I have the tools to talk back to it and stay on track. I’m in a good place.
But, what did Jamal say on the inhale? “Smell the flowers!!!” That’s it! “Smell the flowers…” (Inhale) “Blow out the candles…” (Exhale)
Now I can finally sleep. And tomorrow, start reading those books.