I’m sure you all are way too familiar with the brain hamsters – those little buggers who spin your wheels whenever you try to fall asleep. It’s not a new phenomenon, a new concept, or even a new name for it.
But now the brain hamsters have their very own song. My friend Leslie and I, plagued by the little rodents, used to end our phone conversations, “Death to hamsters!” This inspired our friend Tom to write a dotty little ditty on the subject. It has become a popular sing-along in certain circles – just imagine a room full of people all chorusing, “Death to hamsters!” It’s positively inspiring.
There is, however, another inner animal that has plagued me.
My last full-time job caused me a great deal of anxiety. Monumentally so. My boss left, and I felt I should tell my new boss about my depression (not diagnosed as bipolar yet). She said, “What does that mean?” Uh-oh. My stomach sank, and the badger moved in.
I missed a lot of time at work dealing with my mother’s failing health and finances, in addition to my own. She was blown over by a gust of wind, fell like a plank, and landed on her face. A neighbor sent her kid over: “Go see if she’s alive.” I had to have the you-can’t-live-alone talk with her. Find a nursing home. Figure out how to pay for it. Et cetera.
I could feel the stress in my stomach. A nasty badger, red in tooth and claw, growing daily, snarling more loudly, and threatening to claw its way out. Like that scene in Aliens, except an angry anxiety badger instead of a nameless whatever-that-was.
There was one good thing about the badger. Its presence alerted me that it was time to get the hell out. So I quit my job to go freelance. And it worked. For a while. I remember feeling happy, feeling free, as I drove on my errands and worked at my own pace and on my own schedule.
Of course it couldn’t last. The badger was only lying low, waiting for another round of minor and major disasters to resurrect it. And they came. My, how they came.
Then the badger won. My brain broke. I’ve been trying to piece it back together ever since. Thanks to my support system, my doctors and my medications, I am slowly doing so.
But the badger is waiting. I can feel it stirring, even now.
Death to badgers!