I had an anxiety dream a couple weeks back — the first one I've had in awhile, so...progress? — that centered around an inability to write my name legibly on a name tag.
(Think about that, for a moment. Of all the things one can worry about in the world today — a world full of danger and disaster and disease — my brain settles on NAME TAGS.)
Of course, it was an easy dream to interpret. That blasted tremor. The dream took place at a big party, a mix of strangers and friends watched me struggle over and over again to write A M Y without it turning to gibberish, I was holding up a line of other partygoers who were awaiting their turn, gaaaaahhhhhh holy stressballs.
Less than a week later, I found myself at a party in real life, holding a Sharpie and staring down at a blank name tag.
I would say, overall, the tremor is better than it was before I last wrote about. Trying to fight it/stop it/hide it was never working for me (nor was being afraid that it was a symptom of something much more serious), and while it never really goes away 100%, I know exactly what makes it worse.
Some of the triggers I can avoid — too much caffeine, not enough sleep, letting stress and anxiety spiral out of control. Others, I can't. I can't talk on the phone without it affecting my voice. I can't put on mascara without my hand trembling and my neck bobbing. Taking a goddamn SELFIE triggers it, for reasons I can't quite figure out. And I will shake uncontrollably for probably the first 30 minutes of any social interaction, be it with a complete stranger or my very best friend in the world.
And let's get real: Some nights I just sleep like crap. Some mornings I just need some frigging coffee to think straight. Some days I am just stressed to high hell because I have three kids and I work from home and I still need to find more work but the kids aren't in camp because I still need to find more work but I still need to do the work I have in peace and hahahaaaaa WE'RE MOVING TOO BECAUSE WHY NOT.
Meditation helps. So does deep breathing. I lift weights for 30 minutes to an hour every day, and I always feel much better physically and mentally afterwards. Applying mascara while standing straight up in front of a mirror hanging on the wall (instead of bending over the bathroom counter to get closer to that mirror) seems to help, at least with the neck/head tremor. And being honest about it with people. Yeah, I shake. It's okay. It's weird. It'll stop. Especially if you pour me a glass of wine!
(It stops almost completely after two glasses of wine. But obviously that's not the best long-term 24/7 coping strategy. And I'll probably spill the first glass on myself while trying to get it to my mouth.)
At the party, I laughed a little as I picked up the pen. Another guest looked at me questioningly so I explained I was having a bit of anxiety dream déjà vu. She asked if I'd looked up what the dream meant.
"Didn't need to," I held out my hand and shrugged. "I have a hand tremor so my hands shake sometimes."
Then I wrote my name slowly, but perfectly legibly, on the name tag and handed her the pen.
"I'm Amy! I also overshare a lot. It's nice to meet you."