Last week, I did the weirdest thing. I freaked out about the most insignificant problem and I just couldn’t stop!
Even in the midst of my panic, intellectually I knew that things weren’t that bad. That my response was over-the-top and frankly ridiculous. But I couldn’t stop. That’s when I realised that freaking out has become a habit for me.
Life, for me, has been one long crisis. I began having panic attacks in Year 4 at school. Of course, I didn’t know then that they were panic attacks. My belly hurt and I broke out in a cold sweat as the world swirled around me. My friends rolled their eyes and said, ‘Ivy’s freaking out again’.
She was, she did, she still does. It certainly didn’t help that my adult life has been far from the tranquil life I dreamt of having. Instead, it’s been emergencies following crises peppered with random conflicts, dramas and traumas. I often feel that I’m at my best in the midst of a crisis.
Mind you, none of them have been of my own creation. I’m just party to them or I married into them.
I’m the one you call when you’re sick. I’m the one you beg to mop up the mess you’ve made of your life. You can count on good old Ivy to freak out, throw an absurd amount of money at the problem, pick up the pieces, stick on a plaster and do what must be done to put Humpty-Dumpty together again.
After so many decades of this, freaking out has become my pattern. I would feel horrible if I didn’t do my utmost to save my loved ones from themselves.
But I didn’t realise the fever pitch my freak outs had reached until my husband, Rhys, developed a small infection last week. Nothing an antibiotic wouldn’t put right. But I freaked out anyways.
Even as I was doing it, I knew it was an inappropriate response. It was almost like a bloody out-of-body experience. I watched in amusement from above as Ivy lost her shit over a stupid little infection. My reaction was completely over-the-top and I was fully cognizant of that fact even as I did it. But there was no stopping. Adrenalin took over. My freak out took on a life of its own.
In time, of course, I calmed down. I always do. But it left me in a quandary.
When life has been one long crisis, how do we stop freaking out? And if we do succeed in calming down, will we be able to rise to the challenge of the next really bad crisis? These are the questions I’m wrestling with today.