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I’m struggling and that’s okay.
On Thursday, my book Surviving Midas will launch with Walnut Street Publishers. This is not the first book I’ve written (nor the last), but it is the first I’ve published with this press.
I wish I could say this was the first book I’ve ever published or attempted to publish at all. I wish that my entire writing career has been marked by only successes. Perhaps then I would feel more excitement about this launch instead of a continual sense of anxiety and worry. As it is, all I can think about is how everything could fall apart. How one thread of the tapestry when pulled the wrong way could cause the entire weave to fall apart–even though that’s not exactly true.
But that’s the way things feel when one struggles with anxiety and when bad things have happened before.
I already decided months ago that if something falls apart this time, I’m going to pursue publishing this book on my own. The book, after all, is not the problem. I’ve had multiple people review and praise it and multiple people put their money behind their words of praise. But none of this alleviates the knot in my throat as I look toward Thursday, the day of truth, so to speak, when the launch party takes place and I get to hold the first copy of my book in my hands.
But what if the printing press doesn’t fulfill the order in time? What if on the day of launch there are no books to sell? What if I’ve missed some critical detail that will bring everything crashing to the ground at the last moment?
This is called disasterizing, and it’s a common thought process for people dealing with intense worry. It’s the belief that the worst possible thing will happen. The problem is, just because you’re anxious, it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. The worst possible thing could happen. That twinge of pain in your chest could be a heart attack. That snide remark from your husband could signal the collapse of your marriage. After all, anxiety is the body’s system that warns of coming danger so that we can prepare ahead of time. What’s wrong, however, is the likelihood of those things happening.
I think with the book launch it is hard for me to trust or expect things to go well because things have gone so poorly in the past. I’m having to trust people other than myself to get things done and I don’t control their schedules. This lack of control adds to the anxiety spiral and, since I have been down that road before, I know where it leads. It leads to all-consuming, cyclical thought patterns that, left unchecked, can lead to sheer panic.
I felt this panic rising just last night. Thanks, however, to the help of my therapist, I now recognize the signs and know what to do about it. I’ve felt the pressure rising for weeks now, and so I made a point to take care of myself. I’ve been sleeping as much as I can, I’ve been exercising, getting plenty of sunlight, avoiding sweets, and I’m on a 9-day meditation streak. Yet still, the cyclical thinking really took off last night followed by nausea and headaches (most of my symptoms are very physical). I knew where this was going and I hated that I was still dealing with this after years of fighting this very thing.
But here’s the truth. It’s okay. It’s okay to be anxious. It’s okay that my body is responding to a perceived threat. This is an exceptionally stressful time. A lot is hanging on this launch: book success, money, and yes, a bit of my ego. So, maybe I should give myself a break for feeling the way that I do.
Does that mean I should let it spiral?
No. Panic attacks are not fun, but hating myself for my reactions will only lead to more anxiety. I will continue meditation, grounding, belly-breathing, and doing all those other things that I’m sure have names but I don’t recall what they are. I will still take that warm bath and spend time doing fun things during this period of waiting. But I will have compassion for myself as well knowing that, while my mind and body might be overreacting, it’s only trying to do its job.
And above all, I’m reminding myself this truth: Everything might indeed fall apart, but Thursday is just one day. It might end up being a hard day, but eventually it will end and the sun of another day will rise. After all, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
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RW Hague is a registered nurse with over eight years of experience within the medical field. Using her medical expertise, she writes stories that are gritty and compelling.