Anxiety, Indecision and the Looming Spectre of Death

[CW: suicide, depression]

I’ve taken a break from all the work I haven’t been doing to write this, in the hope it’ll help get some of it out of my system. This post has a little to do with kink, tangentially, but if you’re looking for something hot and sexy, it’s not going to be here.

How It Started

Three weeks ago, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour—it’s highly treatable and most likely he’ll be fine. If you have to get a brain tumour, I recommend one on your pituitary gland.

Cognitively, I know this will probably be a blip in his health history. That hasn’t stopped The Anxiety from creeping in and settling in my stomach like an unwelcome thing that’s had too much coffee. It’s got the jitters and it won’t stop yammering.

My husband is my best friend and the first person I’ve known whose presence doesn’t drain me. We can spend days together and I don’t feel the need to recharge. I can’t imagine my life without him. He is kind and sweet and funny and gentle and nerdy and goofy. He’s the first person I fell in love with—prior to him I didn’t know I had the capacity to love anyone.

What I Worry About, How Likely it Is, and What the Outcome Would Be

I worry…

he’ll have another seizure (or some other medical emergency) when we’re not together. The seizure he had that prompted the trip to the emergency department didn’t look like anything from the outside. He just got very confused and couldn’t think of the words he wanted to use. Now that he’s taking medication to shrink the tumour (the seizure was caused by the tumour pressing on his brain) it shouldn’t be a problem, but that doesn’t stop me worrying about it.

he’ll die in his sleep. That’s not a listed side effect of the tumour or treatment, just an irrational side effect of being confronted with his mortality. Cue picturing what that would be like to wake up to and cope with step-by-step. Thank you, brain.

if something does happen to him, I won’t be able to support myself. We have life insurance but who knows if it would pay out and, at this point, no, I wouldn’t be able to support myself. More on this in a later section.

if something happens, I’d have to return to the States. I would, as I have no claim to remain in the U.K. This would be particularly terrible, as I love it here. This is the first time I’ve been happy in a geographic location in my life. Not only would I have to return to the States, I’d probably have to live with my mother, which is a circle even deeper in Hell for reasons covered in a later section.

The idea of having to deal with an international move after losing the best person I know… it’s doing my head in, as they say here. Usually when I should be sleeping.

How These Worries Manifest Themselves

I can’t sleep. I can’t read (which is part of my job so it’s important). I can’t write (see previous parenthetical). I can’t get back into a routine, which is important for my mental stability.

Trying to form a plan in order to feel a bit more in control, let alone implement the steps in said plan, is shall-we-say ‘difficult’ under the circumstances.

The phrase ‘paralysed by indecision’ keeps coming into my head. What should I do? Should I give up trying to make this business work and try something more stable, if I can even make that happen? How long will it be before I feel safe and can stop worrying about him every second he’s not in my sight or asleep?

‘How Is It Possible a 39 Year Old Can’t Support Herself?’

Mental illness is a hell of a thing, what can I say. It prevented me from finishing high school and college/uni. The jobs I’ve been able to hold in the past never paid enough to support a whole human being. My mother helped pay my rent for a long time (and I didn’t live extravagantly, my two jobs and still no insurance simply didn’t cover rent and food and bills) and I had some delightful credit card debit. Because food had to be purchased so I didn’t die.

My mother can’t afford to help with rent now, but she’d be thrilled for me to move back in with her. She lives in a town of 8,000 in the Deep South in the U.S. When I lived there I bit my nails until they bled and pulled my eyelashes out compulsively. It’s called trichotillomania and it’s not a good time. I don’t like there and there don’t like me.

In the last two years I’ve actually figured out what I can do with my life and I’ve begun taking steps to make it into a career. It’s writing and podcasting about kink. Also eventually doing voice-overs and audio books and teaching and other things in this field. Other people do this and don’t starve so I know it’s possible; it’s about building an audience and marketing and doing the boring business stuff that’s required while your incredible partner does most of the financial heavy-lifting in the household.

I recognise how incredibly privileged I am to be able to attempt to do this full-time from the start. Simultaneously, if I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what I would be doing, as mental illness is a hell of a thing, as I’ve said, and doing jobs out in the world were both mentally and physically draining to the point where I was only just surviving—going to work then going home. I wasn’t contributing anything to the world, I wasn’t improving myself and I wasn’t making enough money to even pay all of my own bills.

The thought of having to return to that non-existence, in my hometown, with my mother (who is nice in her own way but drives me completely insane) is enough to put me back in that headspace of ‘I could always kill myself.’

I know that sounds glib, but that was a serious option in my mind from the time I was 12. And remained so until shortly after I married my husband. Finally, for the first time in 25 years, suicide and self harm didn’t seem like a good idea or even an option. I wanted to be alive even if I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. Then, I found a purpose in life! Something I never thought would happen—figuring my life would be spent passing time, just trying not to be a raging jerk to other people.

Discovering a reason for living was a revelation. Partially because I didn’t think I’d ever have one and partially because looking forward to getting up in the morning was an entirely new experience. Rather than having zero ideas or motivation for living, I suddenly had a plethora of ideas and plans for what I wanted to do and it could benefit other people. I felt useful and energised for the first time.

I’m not having suicidal ideation now, but remembering what it was like living like I was before immediately puts me back in the ‘what’s the point of this again?’ state of mind. I could easily be right back there again, mentally.

How I’m Trying to Combat This

I may need to return to seeing a therapist, but who knows how long it will take to get in and whether or not that person is kink-friendly, since part of my anxiety is being able to make my kink-based business self-reliant while staving off the terror my favourite person in the world is going to die horribly and far too young. I’ll never meet anyone else like him and living without him scares me to death.

I’m trying to be rational, though. This tumour (that he has named Lurker, since it’s been there for months) will most likely take his leave with little fanfare, in the grand scheme of things, and it would be best for me to focus my efforts on building the business. Knowing I was working towards being able to support myself (as well as being productive in general) would help allay much of my anxiety about life, the universe and everything.

Knowing what would help and actually implementing the plan are two different things, however. I try to work and … just can’t. My brain would rather play mindless games on my phone or check social media for the hundredth time. I can’t seem to get it together to do the things I know I need to. My brain goes to white noise when I try to concentrate. I’m probably supposed to be being kind to myself right now, but that would be much easier if myself would do the things that would help mitigate my anxiety most.

Me: ’Hey, brain, if you do these things, it’ll help you feel better.’
Brain: ’Yeah, I know but have you considered [hanging cadence].’
Me: ’Focus! Just do this one thing! You’ll make money and it’s been on your list for two months!’
Brain: ’Okay, let’s check Twitter for five hours first.’
Me: ‘Fine. I’ll lower the bar. How about we accomplish this one thing today. One thing? Please?’
Brain: ‘Okay. Have you seen this game, though?’

I carry the (quite good!) book I was supposed to have finished reading days ago from bed, where I intend to read a bit before sleep but don’t, to the sofa in the morning, where I intend to read, but don’t. I make notes on the various pieces I want to write for my site and to pitch to other sites but can’t wrangle the attention span to send the pitches or write the actual pieces. I can’t sleep until I’m utterly exhausted and the sun is high in the sky. Then I sleep a bit and get up and have that conversation with my brain again.

It’s exhausting not accomplishing anything and I don’t know how to deal with it because I’ve never been in this situation before. I’ve never had things I wanted to do and not been able to make myself do them because everything just seemed to require a bit too much brain power.

So here we are. I’m trying. I’m struggling, but I’m trying.

4 Responses to Anxiety, Indecision and the Looming Spectre of Death

  1. Fifteen years ago my wife/sub became sick with a chronic illness, seven years ago she passed away suddenly at 47. At the time, she seemed to be improving and our hopes for her returning to health were rising. Her death blindsided me and left me with countless questions, some of which will never be answered.

    I didn’t experience anxiety or indecision that you are facing currently because for me, my role was to bolster her up during times that she was at her lowest. Dom/caregiver/cheerleader so to speak.

    When she passed, my world collapsed. I internalized, second guessed, and analyzed everything about her illness. Searching for hidden answers became an obsession.

    I gave up any thought of finding another partner; deciding that I was strong enough to live without the complications of fully opening myself up to anyone. Eventually, people stepped into my life and did many things to try and pull me out of my solitude.

    A couple of years ago, I connected with a vanilla girl and opened up about all my twists and turns. What followed was a slow process exposing her to the lifestyle. She is a vorious reader and I suggested many books for her to read, so she could learn from many sources. Your podcast is also part of her education. Thank you.

    Enough about me, here are my thoughts about your situation. Life is scary, nothing is guaranteed or often easy…(gee not so inspiring so far…lol). Do the very best you can, people who love you and truly know you will understand your limits. Then push yourself to do more than you think you can; imagine a loving Dom/Domme pushing your boundaries of service. Right now that service has a very real focus, taking care of Walter and just as important…taking care of yourself.

    Just as you found a purpose serving others by podcasting, etc…you revealed your innermost joys and fears to your listeners. By doing so, you learned that you were able to touch people in ways you never imagined and pushed past boundaries you thought insurmountable. I can’t say when or what the outcome of this uncertain, anxious period will resolve but, it will resolve. From listening to every revealing episode of your podcast, it is my opinion that you will find yourself stronger as a result. Best wishes.
    “ItGoesTo11”

    • Thank you for your incredibly kind words and I am so sorry for your loss.

      You have an insight about people and life and a way with words that leaves me speechless. Things *are* improving each day and I’m learning to confront my anxiety and cope with it slowly. I’m impatient, though, and want my routine back. 🙂

      I’m sure I’ll revisit your comments many times–I can already tell they’ll bring me a great deal of solace when I need it.

      Thank you again.

  2. Cancer is the dreaded illness of our times, the black plague of the now. I understand well your terror. My wife is a multiple cancer survivor. The paranoia I have about her getting cancer again is intense to say the least. I too struggle with mental health issues. I empathize with you so very very much. All I can say is you are doing what you love, keep doing it. You make a difference. Hold onto yourself and your work. Should you find yourself back in the states for whatever reason your listeners I am sure would band together to get you a place out of the south or at least in a metro area where such backwater discrimination is lessened by the diversity of urban sprawl. May you find joy and laughter and kinks that make you think.

    • Cancer is, indeed, terrifying. I am so sorry about your wife’s struggles and so glad she has beaten it, though the fear of a reoccurance must be ever-present.

      May you find strength in your own struggles–I wouldn’t wish mental illness on anyone.

      (I somehow doubt my listeners would rescue me from the South, were I to wind up back there, as I can’t even inspire people to help pay for podcast hosting each month, let alone food; but it’s a lovely thought. Bless you for having it. <3 )

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