>Yesterday, driving to work, the meditative-creative state that I rely on for sustenance re-appeared. Hallelujah! When something is amiss, you feel absence, but can’t always pinpoint what is missing. Without access to that state of mind, I don’t write and I feel a type of distress that is hard to shake. It’s been a difficult time at work and I have been thinking in my sleep instead of dreaming–always a bad sign. I was operating under the totally dumb illusion that the ever-worsening economic downturn wouldn’t affect me emotionally. I have a job, a home, a car and can cut out the extra unnecessaries when I need to without becoming gloomy. But of course it’s all connected. The hospital is cutting programs, demanding more “productivity” of fewer staff, and placing a hold on new hires. Rules and regs are being enforced as a way of displaying tough times ahead and demonstrating who’s in charge. Anxiety is infectious and shit rolls downhill. In my own team, I’ve been censured for my disquieting, anti-authoritarian style and handed what feel like ultimatums about my attitude and behavior. I realize that like anyone else, I could lose my job in these times. Or more to the point, I could reach unrelieved distress levels that typically cause me to flee. My ten-year plan that was to deliver me to a reasonable retirement could dissolve.

I saw a psychiatrist in February, after a year of sluggish depression, and a 3-month wait for an appointment. He was a nice guy and offered simple, but accurate, insight into my depressed state which I agree is choked with undigested fury. He just said: speak up for yourself, ask for what you need, tolerate the anxiety that prevents you from these behaviors, stop substituting others’ needs for your own. He added another drug for me to take. Last week, I turned in my mileage reimbursement request for February after not managing to do so since last September, to the tune of about $300/month. I had a cardiac test that tells me I’d better take care of myself–it’s sort of now or never at this point. I’m thinking about what I need and how to avoid becoming one of my own patients–old, ill, miserably dependent.

As always, I’m looking for a new narrative, perhaps a new metaphor for how/why I am living. I feel that I’ve been called to declare myself, safeguard myself from harm, so that I can persevere. In my introverted, loner life, I claim a internal peace that feels intensely connected and precious. When I am writing, or driving contemplatively, or walking in the woods, I become intensely aware of the interconnections and intuit my tiny place here and feel the “enough-ness” of my life. I find grace in watching snow fall or listening to naked trees offering their branches upward in prayer. And for some reason, I am able to capture this quiet when I sit with my patients and help contain their fears and grief and sorrows. But at the office I am one big mess of energy, anger, and argument. In social settings I lose my quiet self and pick up the emotional energy surrounding me, offering it back in my own version of disquiet. In brief, I don’t connect, or even cause sparks, I blow fuses.

So here is the metaphor/simile that I wish to embody: the hyoid bone. The hyoid bone is the only bone in our body that does not connect with any other bone. And its function separates humans from other primates. By its suspension above the larynx, it supports speech. I want a meaningful life, where connection is present without so much close contact. I want to support important functions in the universe, but still be allowed my own little place here. I want the quiet that allows me to actually be useful and add to the cup of peace that is continually drained by violence and greed. Is that too much to ask?

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