Saturday, October 18, 2014


I don't usually treat this blog like a journal.   I'm generally more interested  in the questions that day-to-day events help surface.  What's the lesson/meaning of events not the events themselves.  But...the last few days have been pretty tough and I don't I have any understanding/lesson to share here.  So I'm hoping spending some time writing down specifics will help guide me toward a better understanding of what's been going on and what I should do.

They started about five days ago.  "They" is an interesting word here.  I know it is the proper plural of "it" but it seems to give "it" a more personal character.  Like "it's" alive and in many ways it feels alive to me. "It" is a mysterious being that comes uninvited into my body, heart and soul that scares the hell out of me.

"It"/"They" have been visiting several times a day.  The first conscious thing that happens is that I feel sharply nauseous.  Very close to vomiting.  This startling discomfort makes me aware that I have been daydreaming about something disturbing.  The maddening thing is I can almost grasp what I was thinking about but can't get it.  It keeps slipping through my hands like night dreams/mares I try to recall when I find myself suddenly awake.  The nauseous feeling passes after a few moments and then I feel immmediately blanketed by a deep feeling of dread.  I force my self to breath slowly and focus on my breath like I do during meditation.  This begins to calm me down and I gradually feel less panic.  Each episode lasts less than a minute.

I've had around ten of these episodes during the past week.  I've never experienced anything like them before.  I don't like them.  It makes me feel as if the ground I'm standing on is being pulled out from under me and I don't know what/who's doing it,  why it's happening or when it will happen again.

I've just stopped writing to do a web review of anxiety disorders and panic attacks.  What's happening to me doesn't seem to be a classic panic attack which apparently last longer and usually have more physical symptoms such and chest pains, difficulty breathing and heart pounding.  The symptoms I can identify with are feeling nauseous, dreamlike sensations and, excuse the word, terror. The description I found of  the feeling of terror was appropriately frightening, "a sense that something unimaginably horrible is going to  happen and one is powerless to prevent it."

What is happening is clearly related to anxiety, which is probably related to many of the issues I've talked about in this blog over the past several years.  Retirement, aging, loss of (fill in the blank), yadayadayadah.  Excuse the self-deprecating tone here but it does get old talking about all of the same age, life-stage issues ad nauseam.   Ah there's that nausea stuff again.  Interesting.  It's like I'm getting a wake up call.  I need to pay attention.  But to what?  What's different? What's causing this crapola now? What should I do?

Things have gotten uncomfortable/scary enough that I have started reaching out.  Yesterday I talked at length about this to my wife Dorothy and my friend Bill.  Both were great listeners.  I felt their care and support and talking out loud about this stuff was helpful and hopeful.

Today I'm writing this blog as a selfish, therapeutic tool.  It feels right even though I know such an extremely personal expose (put accent over last e) might be crossing a boundary and a turn off for some readers.  Again, this still feels right.

So I still haven't looked at the Why Now? question very carefully,  Here's a few off the cuff ideas.

Tomorrow's my 67th birthday.  Hmmm.  Why does 67 seem like such a bigger number than 66?

Golf season is ending.  I've been spending the last six months golfing three times a week and practicing often on the the days I don't play. This has been a convenient, fun, and in many ways satisfying past time. but I have a strong sense that it's losing its utility may be fading as an effective diversion from looking at, and dealing with the BIG questions.  This is the first Fall in recent years where my enthusiasm for the game started to go south before the snow fell.  Hmmm.

Boredom.  I've now been retired over three years.  Much of this time has been wrapped up in the excitement of building a new, post-employment life in a new community.  It's been a challenging adventure getting settled into a new home. We now are active  members of a wonderful church.  Dorothy and I are involved in many church-related activities which we both find satisfying and enjoyable.  I have a group of guys I play golf with regularly  who are usually fun to be around.  I keep a regular health regimen.  I swim, walk the golf course, eat well, drink in moderation, and take my meds and supplements religously. I meditate daily.  I spend lots of time playing my guitar and singing.  Most always to myself but once in awhile there's a couple of guys from church I play with.  All this sounds great. These are all accomplishments of the work Dorothy and I have done to establish a new life and home in Binghamton.

So why did I start the above paragraph with the word "boredom"? Because it's true.

Perhaps my life  has become too predictable and safe.  The sense of adventure, which I crave, is rapidly fading.  Is this all there is? If it is, why the fuck can't I be happy and content. I have so much to be grateful for. Why do I feel I want to turn over the apple cart and take a hike into the unknown?

What's next?  What should I do? I don't know. I do know that these "episodes" I've been having are telling me something I need to pay attention to and that talking to people I trust and love and writing this blog entry have been helpful.  Thank you for reading.