You Call it Bipolar-I Call it MSD
In the Spotlight
I have a lot going on today, with my appointment over at the coast with Dr. Garratt, and our first farmers market of the season, up here on Bell Springs Road. Annie and I have to leave the mountain at seven this morning, in order to be in Mendocino, well before our ten o’clock appointment. If it seems as though three hours is a lot of time to get to the town of Mendocino from here, then I just remind myself of the last time we were on the coast, and we got behind a tourist, who meandered along Highway One, all the way from the Branscomb turnoff to the little coastal village of Mendocino. Any attempt to pass this vehicle, during the passage through Fort Bragg, where there are two lanes of highway, was rebuffed by this vehicle increasing speed.
I do better with these impediments, than I used to, but they still try my patience to the max. Then there is the ongoing series of roadwork delays. A traveler may have no delays whatsoever, or find his path blocked two or three times, in any given trip, by roadwork. We are on the clock for one hour each time we visit Dr. G, whether we arrive in time or not. I prefer to leave early, and have time to kill on the other end, than to try and cut it closer, but have to stress every time we get slowed down.
Today also marks the very special opening of this year’s farmers market, up here on the ridge. There is a long and storied history to this event, going back more than ten years, to the earliest days, when there were only a handful of vendors, and the market was still perched on Bell Springs Road itself, as opposed to being in the quarry, located three and three-fourths miles up Bell Springs Road.
With the market now located off to the side of the road, there is less worry about traffic and dust, as vehicles making their way up or down the thoroughfare can better navigate their way through the area, without having as much concern for pedestrians. It boggles my little pea brain to remember that as recently as the year before last, I attended only three of these markets, and felt pretty uncomfortable at the ones I did attend.
The main reason I went in the first place, was to escort my mom, Pauline, so that she could catch up with old friends here on the mountain. The main reason I did not like to attend, is simply because I did not like to attend any public event. The nature of my panic attack issues, precluded my attending any public event without a fair amount of stress. Part of the problem was the claustrophobic sensation of being in the midst of a crowd, though it is not nearly as predominant outside, as it is while indoors.
The other part had to do with what I refer to as the spotlight effect, the notion I used to have that all eyes were on me, as I made my arrival in any public setting. I find it challenging to explain now, but it involved the impression that when I arrived at any function, at which there were many people, that I drew an inordinate amount of attention, and that everyone was staring at me. It did not matter that I could point out that I do not stare at others as they arrive, nor do the people around me pay much attention to new arrivals, and yet I could not escape this feeling that I was under some sort of magnifying glass.
I found it so much easier to simply avoid the market than to attend it. To be honest, that is the way I viewed all public appearances, whether they were intended to be enjoyable, such as a theater, or work, such as having to meet in the multi-purpose room, for a district gathering. I found ways to delay my arrival until the last moment, and I preferred to stand in the back of the room.
My very recently acquired ability to distinguish between anxiety, and mood, serves me well right now. Anxiety and mood variations coexist within most people, and it is the way one orchestrates these feelings that determines the level of comfort. Little by little, I am overcoming my anxiety, and learning to enjoy the public venue, as I did last weekend, when I traveled over to the Central Valley for a wedding. Now I look forward with a keen sense of anticipation to today’s market, and that is a new sensation.
So if you see me this afternoon, and I do not respond to you, it is not because I am nervous, but more likely because I do not recognize you. We may talk on FaceBook frequently, but I still haven’t set eyes on you in years. Take pity on me and introduce yourself, and then watch me relax. I never fake it when I do not know to whom it is that I am speaking. I will hold out my hand and say, “Hello, my name is Mark, and you are...?”
At least I got rid of that confounded spotlight.