John Mayer Gets Anxiety Attacks, or, My Twitch
Winding it down and wrapping it up on the month of obstacles and John Mayer, there is one more thing I think you should know about him:
John Mayer gets anxiety attacks. It's true. I read it in Rolling Stone. ("...Mayer started having crippling anxiety attacks, which he's only conquered in the past two years - to this day, he keeps a Xanax in the small pocket of his jeans at all times as an insurance measure." -9/21/06 p. 70).
A few weeks before I started teaching my first writing class, I started to worry at a higher frequency than normal. And as a result, I developed this twitch under my eye that was:
d) totally. completely. visible. all. the. time.
It was um, more than annoying.
I called my doctor and he told me that it was normal and I should try the following:
a) cardiovascular exercise (I'll try it...I'd been looking for a reason to buy cute new running shoes and what better reason than doctor-recommended?)
b) hot compresses (Sounds reasonable)
c) cut back on sugar (Wait, 'cut back' means I can still have some, right?)
d) lay off the caffeine (WHAAAAAAAAT?????!!!!)
He reiterated that it was perfectly normal, there was nothing to worry about (!), and then he volunteered that his wife's lip twitches when she gives presentations, ostensibly to make me feel better, but this just gave me one more thing to worry about: You mean my twitch can spread??? To an even more visible location???
It was also suggested to me by concerned friends, relatives, people in the medical profession, and a recovering alcoholic, that I should drink more (a glass of red wine every now and then wouldn't hurt!), and oh yeah, try to relax.
Ok, this is how it played out in the day-to-day realm: Me and all my anxieties were totally transparent. Like, I couldn't pretend to be calm. I would be talking to someone, and they would say something that stressed me out, or their person or presence or essence alone would stress me out, and the twitch would start up even faster, and more furious, and then I'd have to run away. I was your basic, anxious, open book, parading every nuanced fluctuation of every anxious thought for all the world, or at least everyone who saw me, to see.
Here are some more highlights:
-I'd start off every day with an email to my friend: "Day Three of My Twitch" or "Day Four: Still Going Strong!"
-I saw an ex from afar and dodged him through a serious of intricate alternate route maneuvers as I knew he'd set it off.
-I was so anxious about relaxing it even twitched in yoga class!
Life was so much easier, and I was so much more calm and less twitchy when I wasn't trying to transcend past limiting thoughts and overcome patterns of resistance in pursuit of my dreams! It made me kind of want to chuck it all and hide my twitchy self under my covers and just let my dreams slide this time around...maybe I would do better next time...
But in the end, what this whacked-out mind-body connection taught me, was that I had to get control of my thoughts and keep moving forward. And I had this handy little visual aid to help me view my progress. Calm thoughts = no twitch.
I am totally fascinated with how people who are living their dreams overcome fear, or if they even feel it all. A few years ago I interviewed a young singer who had performed one night in front of a packed house and record label executives, and from that performance had scored competing bids from major labels. And I was so curious like, what was she thinking, doing, and feeling right before she went on that night, knowing that this was going to be this grand moment in her life, this career-making, life-altering moment? What did she do to not totally choke and f*ck it up? How did she summon up that much courage, that much trust, and that much faith? And she said, that right before she performs, she always...hates herself. And curses herself like, Why did I choose this profession? Why do I do this to myself??? And then she goes out there and rocks the house.
When I am really afraid, and shaking either in my metaphorical boots or visibly, for the world to see, it kind of tips me off that I am going in the right direction, and as much as I want to crawl under my covers and take a personal day (or 365), I have to keep moving forward, through the fear and, as a yoga teacher I had used to say, out the other side. Cause the tricky sticky thing about fear is, you can't run away from it. You have to go through it to come out of it.
But dude, JOHN MAYER GETS ANXIETY ATTACKS!!! And if he can do it, so can I. And so can you.
We all can.
Lots of love!
John Mayer Recap: Here are some fun YouTube links to John Mayer songs that I have mentioned this month but have not yet linked to!
"Waiting on the World to Change"
"I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)"