Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mental Case

I've come to the conclusion that I have anxiety issues. More than just your average garden variety anxiety...such worries over a talk in church, a deadline at work, or an upcoming race, etc. But not anywhere near as serious as some who deal with an outright anxiety disorder that medication is taken for. It comes and goes. Some months I find myself daily with a stomach full of knots and this numbing dread that I can't even put a name to...and then I'll go for long periods of time with nothing out of the ordinary. Oftentimes I find anxiety showing up in September, corresponding with the start of school, extracurricular activities and a new schedule. None of it bad or even overly overwhelming, really. But there all the same. And it frustrates me. To be doing nothing more taxing or burdensome than folding laundry or vacuuming but feeling like it's something that I'm terribly stressed about. I hate it. It makes me irritable and emotional. It makes me less productive. It makes me less confident.

I've been dealing with anxiety for the past few weeks. And I know exactly why. It's been a stressful time in my life. It is not bad stress, and the crazy, busy and emotional have all come from good and wonderful things. But all the same, I'm finding myself spiraling ever downward, clawing at happy thoughts and determined to persevere and prevail, darn it all!

The end of school threw me this year. May is busy for any mother of school aged children, what with its end of year projects, tests, programs and awards nights. Throw in spring sports and other such extracurriculars that also have their fair share of May activities before ending for the summer break and you've got yourself a calendar full. But this year we had a high school graduation. And I know mothers deal with this every year but I tell you what, I did not anticipate how emotionally hard it would be for me. And so each and every event...scholarship awards night, spring choir concert, merit cord awards night, the final madrigal concert, Senior Cotilion, Seminary Graduation...messed with my emotions. The actual BIG DAY itself was incredibly wonderful, beautiful and bittersweet. And I was a hot mess emotionally. To this day I still can't talk about it or look at pictures without tears accompanying my smiles.

But add to this all those other end of year events for my other 3 children, a big 7th "Frozen" themed birthday party (complete with a visit from Elsa and Anna), hours spent researching and booking a big family vacation for later in the summer before Rebekah leaves for college (and don't even get me started on thoughts and prep for that event...I still have 3 months), money continually going missing from our home and the sickening thought that someone we were close to was a thief, and then...getting ready for a singing tour to Europe.

We leave in four days. This has been an on and off and on again trip for almost two years now. I've not truly let myself wrap my brain around it until just recently because I didn't want to be disappointed if it fell through. (We were originally supposed to go last summer but it got postponed a year.) It's a big trip, one that needs a lot of prep. For the trip itself but also the music we are singing there. We've been rehearsing since February. I was offered a solo. A big one. We're singing Haydn's Missa Brevis St. Joannis de Deo....a 14 minute mass with multiple movements. One of the movements, the Benedictus, is a soprano solo. Me. I was hugely honored and excited for the opportunity and have been working on it since February with my friend, mentor and voice instructor, Gary. But I've had next to no rehearsal time with the choir. Because the choir does not sing with me during that movement...no back up, no coming in after I've started things off...it's a waste of choir rehearsal time. I sing the song exceedingly well. It's right up my vocal alley, I guess you could say. But singing it over and over with Gary is a lot different than singing it in front of people, whether they be the rest of the choir or an audience. And I wished mightily for a few more passes at it with the choir so as to feel more comfortable and confident before singing it last night at our Bon Voyage concert for our family and friends at the St. Marks Cathedral in Salt Lake City.

So yesterday afternoon as I folded some laundry, killing time before getting ready for the concert, I found myself irritable and weepy and downright scared...filled with anxiety. This is not like me. I'm a singer. I've sung solos countless times. And though I do tend to get more nervous than I'd like, this is what I do! I was prepared, the song was something that fit my voice well...but anxiety was having a heyday with me and I was incredibly upset and frustrated about it. And the only thing I could point to was just this whole myriad of busy and crazy and stressful-even-if-good events that have already put me into an emotional tailspin causing me to deal with this anxiety that had a very unfortunate sense of timing.

I put on my big girl pants and did my best. My best at the concert was not the best that I know I was capable of. But aren't we all our own worst critic? I received profuse compliments and even my sisters, who I trust to be brutal with their critiques, said the things I complained about were not noticeable to those listening.

But I got through it and that's what counts. Because it seems like this concert last night maybe was the low point of my anxiety woes. Not that the concert itself was a low point, of course....just my emotional state leading up to it. This morning I'm suddenly feeling more excited about the trip and anxious in a good way to start my packing. I'm also feeling less worried about singing my solo in Budapest, Prague and Vienna. It may be premature. The stomach of knots and feelings of dread may return as I try to get things ready, not only packing but all the prep that comes with making sure everything at home is also set and in order for my absence. I guess we'll see. But I think maybe I've turned a corner. I hope so. I'd like to really enjoy this trip. And even more than that, I'd like to truly revel in this awesome experience of soloing in those gorgeous cathedrals in Europe. Wish me luck!

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