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I’m Not Scared!!

Halloween morning, three days until the election, and I ask the same question I ask every year—isn’t the world scary enough without putting goblin heads on our front doors? Even without Trump and Covid–two frights that only make each other worse–I am a chicken. Don’t say Boo to me—my startle reflex is so tightly wrapped that seeing the word carved into a pumpkin can make me jump out of my skin. And I worry.  I worry about so many small things (mice, socks, humidifiers) that I can barely make room for the big things (elections, democracy, climate). But the big things pervade, and nothing dominates the aptly-named “Breaking News” today than the soaring number of Covid cases. Rising community spread in Denver is enough to keep me home on a sunny day, but it’s time to refill my Ativan prescription.

I’m lucky that Ativan works for my anxiety (along with exercise, meditation, and the occasional self-hating rant). It’s a drug that is easy to abuse, and I know it helps me most if I use it only a couple of times a week and don’t think of it too often. It’s the difference between, say, a cute acquaintance at the coffee shop and a full-blown romantic obsession.

Today, I go to a neighborhood pharmacy where, two days earlier, they gave me someone else’s medication. (Yes, I worried about that person, and no, I didn’t mistakenly take their pills.) The only problem with my prescription is how much worry it causes me to stand in line at the pharmacy, so this second trip, on a busy Saturday morning, has shallowed my breath and dampened my palms. I have picked up a couple of bags of candy for possible trick-or-treaters, some worry-reducing ballpoint pens, and sensitivity toothpaste because I’m a very, very sensitive person. Before my turn in line, I realize that in my bike pouch outside I have left my cell phone, neatly bundled with all of my plastic and $70 cash. It’s still there when I go back for it. I resume my place in line.

The pharmacist is kind, apologetic, practically oozing with her own concern that the person behind me in line is my lawyer. I verbally confirm my name, birthdate, and phone number, but the small beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead confirm my diagnosis: anxious AF. The pharmacist hands me a $25 gift certificate and a $10 cash refund. I hand them back to her to pay for my purchases, then sanitize my hands and thank her profusely.

Making my way to the exit, prescription and pens and Halloween candy in hand, I pass less than six feet behind an older white man and say, I’m right behind you, so sorry. He turns to me and loudly replies, nose jauntily uncovered by his mask, Why are you sorry? I’m not afraid!  Me either, Mister, me either.

By Jenny-Lynn

I live and write in Denver and Fairplay while taking classes at Denver's Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Former therapist and dedicated cyclist, my essays have appeared in Pithead Chapel, Dreamers Creative Writing, and The Colorado Sun.

11 replies on “I’m Not Scared!!”

Thankfully, I am usually and anxiety denier. I am cool and composed while others around me are chewing their fingernails. Then, later, in a safe place, I forcefully state my need for Valium, knowing that alcohol will only make me bleary. (I’ve never had Valium, don’t even know if they still make it, but it’s not as dramatic as asking for cocaine.) I suffer silently, trying to distract myself with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, until my stomach or my heartbeat gets wonky and then I spend the rest of the time berating myself for trying to find the easy way out. … It ain’t ever easy, by the way.

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Great post, J-L! You captured so well how our small and large worries play together. And of course- anxiety- which I so well know!

So glad you are writing!

🧚Liz

Sent from my iPhone

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Worrying about all the little things has lately been a big distraction from my overwhelming anxiety about those other too huge things. (Right now I’m worried about the burning candle in my outside carved pumpkin— there to alight the candy bowl for t&t ers. It could jump out of the pumpkin somehow and light the neighborhood on fire. That’s not a little thing…)
Thank you for your wonderful writing, Jenny Lynn. Makes me realize I’m not an alone worrier.
But … I am going to check on that 🎃

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I got some tramadol after my surgery six months ago. A few of those pills might still be here. I’m thinking of taking them until this damn election is over. My own favorite things to worry about are usually those I can do nothing about and my favorite time to worry about them is when I wake up at 3 a.m. You captured much that we all experience here!

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It hits me right as I’m waking up. I’m paralyzed for a few minutes and then I regain control and take my pills and get back my life. Big things, little things, often times keeping me from doing the important things that need to be done. You nailed it.

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