Yesterday our company went karting as our team building activity for the month. I’d never been karting before, and I feel like it is something even my younger, less anxious self would not have been interested in. I have never been the type to enjoy speed or competition. A competition based on speed? Not really up my alley.
But with my anxiety lately, the idea of karting made me sick to my stomach. Let me back things up and give you a bit of perspective. Over the past 7 years, anxiety has slowly taken a firm place in my depression. I still get depressed, but instead of the fun, thrilling manic phases I used to get, I get anger and/or anxiety. It’s a mess to say the least. While I was pregnant, the anxiety got so bad that I had a difficult time being a passenger in the car while my husband was driving. He had to drive incredibly slow, safely, and defensively for me to be able to handle the rides, and even that was not enough to prevent white knuckles and rapid breath when we were on mountain roads.
Since I had Jojo, my hormones have mostly settled. I am much more in control of myself and the anxiety comes and goes but is not debilitating the way it was while I was pregnant. Still, I try not to do things that will provoke it. You know, like get in a small vehicle and race around a track.
Karting shouldn’t freak me out. I mean, I used to have a 600cc motorcycle. Why would a 200cc go-kart make me all whirly-wobbly inside? I dunno, but it does. So I told Nikola to count me out. But to have a race, the place we went to requires 8 racers, and they only had 7. Someone had to fill in and apparently that was me. I determined that I would put-put around the track, pay no attention to the race, and I would be fine.
There were moments when I was fine. There were moments when the world was dark and silent and I was zooming around this track and I felt like I was back in the Arizona desert, all alone, and I felt good. I felt free. Then those moments would get slammed away by a suddenly pounding heart, tight throat, and intense, unreasonable fear. Multiple times I considered just driving into the pit and calling it quits. But I remembered what Nikola told me- to just take it slowly and not worry about anyone else. So I would ride the brakes and pass the pit and the anxiety would slowly subside. Multiple times I started the beginnings of hyperventilating- the tight chest and painful breaths that come too quickly- and I thought I would have to hold down the brakes and wave my hand until the swirling in my mind stopped and someone rescued me. But I concentrated on my breath- in out in out- slow and steady, and the blackness didn’t overtake me and I did fine.
In the end, I came in last place. But I continued the race for the entire ten minutes. As my colleagues chattered about how fun it was- how exhilarating- I tried to steady my shaking and not puke. But I was proud of myself. Damn proud for finishing. And I don’t think anyone is ever going to understand just how hard that was for me.
Do events like that help with my anxiety? Do they give me confidence that I can overcome my anxiety and participate in everyday activities? I am not really sure. Maybe it is a stupid form of torture to put myself through it. But still, once the adrenaline subsided, I had to admit there were parts of it that were fun and freeing. There were parts of it that were good. I won’t be doing it again, but I am glad I did it.
After karting, I got to choose the activity- which was going to a bar for alcohol and socializing. I had 2 whiskeys with soda. I relaxed into the drink and I felt an amazing buzz that I have not felt in what feels like years. Maybe it was the cool sea breeze and the sand on my feet. Maybe it was the good, comfortable conversation with co-workers. Maybe it was just a night of being without kids or responsibilities. Whatever it was, the alcohol hit me in a way reminiscent of the thrilling way it did when I was 22, not 34. Even the next morning wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Although, I was tired.
All in all, it was a good night. It was an important night- and one that I needed to remind me that I am more than a mother and more than my anxiety these days.