Midnight Pub

A Needed Break


I've spent the last week completely exhausted. Between COVID and the national news, all the threats coming from every angle, I've barely slept. I've been staying awake for 36 hours or more, only sleeping when my body absolutely demands it and then for 14 hours at a time.

I had a dream a few nights ago that I was an EMS dispatcher trying to do my job from a home phone line while deliriously exhausted. I was laying on the couch, trying to nap between calls. Every time I call came through I would answer and the person would just shriek. No words. Nothing at all intelligible. Any attempt to get them to give me the information I needed to get emergency services to them. It was just an ear shattering, hysterical scream. Eventually I would hang up and try to sleep again. After a bit, when I did manage to nod off I would become panicked and paranoid I'd missed a call. Finally the phone rang again and I woke up to the sound of that scream. Don't need a degree or a dream dictionary for that one.

My therapist recommended staying away from the news and any social media that thrusts the news upon me regardless of whether or not I seek it out. He told me to step away, to acknowledge that I'm doing everything I possibly can with the risks in front of me and to give myself permission to not know every breaking news item the instant it happens.

It's a good and logical suggestion. It's also incredibly difficult. There's so little control over the risks we're all facing right now. Locally, any projected action at the capitol has evaporated with absolutely no one showing up, so there's no opportunity to have an impact there, even if my own skills as a street medic would likely not be needed given the amount of security preparedness already in place. All that there's to do is wait and watch.

The watching feels like doing something even though it isn't. It feels like the specter of control when there is none. It's also incredibly stressful. Not watching, stepping away from all of that incoming information raises the anxiety in a different area. There's this fear of missing something, of not knowing when the next big, awful thing happens. It doesn't much matter that not knowing until a few days later would have absolutely no impact on the number of COVID dead or the next insurrection attempt.

My process with anxiety has always been tolerance building, and I've largely done a pretty good job. This is an entirely new set of triggers, a new place to build tolerance.

So this weekend, I'm stepping away from the news and away from social media. I'm taking some time to sleep and recharge over the 3 day weekend. I can't say I feel better. Not yet. But hopefully I'll go into next week a little better prepared for what lies ahead.


I've always been scared of taking a plane. Every time I need to do so, I think about it months in advance. As it gets closer to that day, my nights become dreams after dreams of being in the plane and bad things happening. The worst is when I'm in the plane for a red-eye flight and feel on the verge of crashing the whole 12 hours. As soon as there's any movement, my heart rate accelerate. Yet I can see the kids being happy and not caring at all. People watch movies and laugh. But me? I can't allow myself to. Somehow, it's almost like trying to distract me would put me in danger. What's not helping is that my work requires me to travel often. Or at least, it did pre-covid.

One day, one of my colleague and friend told me something that helped me more than I thought. He said: "You're in the plane anyway. You might as well enjoy the ride." No amount of stress would help if something bad were to happen. I don't control that plane at all. I can't pilot. But I do control how I react. That's the one thing I can directly impact.

This year has been a lot like a plane ride. Watching the news was a lot like looking at the plane's speed and altitude screen. It's normal when flying for the altitude to go down at times. For the flight to swing. But we might as well enjoy the ride because either way, that's the only thing we can truly control.



Thank you. This is beautiful.



Very inspiring!

That's really good advice form your therapist and I hope for two things: that you can follow through on this, and, that if you can't, that you don't beat yourself up over that.

Good luckā™„