On Depressions and Sinkholes
I haven’t made the structural changes to the blog that I have been hoping to do, but I have realized that I miss writing and I can’t wait for that to do this. So I’m starting a new plan. I rigged up a treadmill desk and everyday I am going to do all of my work and Internet time wasting while on it. Part of this plan is to write something on most days. Today I tackle anxiety. I’m sort of thinking about this project as a way toward better mental health with a side physical benefit of maybe fitting into my high school prom dress. Sorry you have to witness any of it.
I read the headline and attempted to not click on the story. I tried. Really, I did. I know intuitively that I should never click on headlines that refer to freak accidents, very tragic circumstances, or especially odd or virulent diseases. I know rationally that it will not improve my life in any way, I will learn nothing from it, and there is little to no chance that it will keep me safe. But it’s an addiction. I freely admit it. Some part of me thinks that if I read the article, I will learn something and I will then have a super power to protect me or my family from living that particular tragedy.
On this day, it was the sinkhole in Florida that terrifyingly swallowed up a man while he was sleeping in his bed. For an anxiety sufferer, this story was especially bad. There was seemingly no warning, no telltale signs, and no way of preventing the outcome of being swallowed and killed by the earth. Beyond, it occurred in our place of safety — at home — and moreso, in bed. Bed is where we go when the world becomes too terrifying. It is our place of safety and in this case, there was no safety.
After the article is read, the mind starts to turn. I generally can turn it off and go about my business, but the little pieces of information I did acquire (why can’t I forget them like I do everything else?) pop up at weird moments and begin the question generation process. What would the signs be if you had a sinkhole? Wouldn’t you notice something problematic? Surely this doesn’t happen in our area of the world, does it?
Then, in a bored moment, the searching begins. I approach Google like a friend. She’s going to reassure me, right? She’s going to allay these fears. So I search. And then the anxiety sufferer doesn’t get the answers she wants. With sinkholes, sometimes there are no warning signs. You might have windows or doors that don’t shut. You might have cracks in walls or foundations. And then it all goes south when you find out that your state is one where sinkholes are common. Google hasn’t allayed your fears. She has left you more worried. Just like her friend WebMD.
I think about that weird depression in our backyard that my husband insists is some sort of natural drain. I think about our back door that has been sticking for years. I think about that molding separating from the ceiling. I think about who you are supposed to call if you suspect a sinkhole. The township? An engineer? How much would it cost to get it evaluated? Do we have any friends who are geo-engineers? Is that even a title or a program of study that would help in such a situation?
But mostly I think about the earth sucking me or a family member up with no warning. I think of the terror. I imagine it all too well. It might as well be a feature length movie playing in my mind. I am already suffocating or standing at a funeral. (A tiny part of me asks what I would even wear to a funeral since my current mom wardrobe consists of jeans and clogs.)
I realize it is ridiculous. I realize I am more likely to get t-boned at an intersection than swallowed into a sinkhole. I realize that I may be sitting in a nursing home like my 99 year old grandmother and contemplating all of the things I worried about that never happened. But then the little flash cruises through my conscious thinking and I say, “But I might be right. If it’s not the sinkhole, I will be right about something else.” That’s the part I try to put aside. The part that says there will definitely be *something* that kills me or my loved ones. And the rocks underneath us seem the least likely culprit. The earth under our feet is the only thing we can be sure about, right?
Erosion and acid take the sure thing and turn it into a void of nothingness. After clicking on that link, I once again realize there is nothing sure and nothing strong and nothing that will keep us safe forever. I am that rock.