Fear and anxiety. I’m uncertain if I can feel or tell the difference: my heart pounds, my hands sweat, my underarms release a strong unpleasant smell. I wring my hands. I tap my fingers. I pace. I sit in my room on the bed. I move to the living room and sit on the couch. I go to the computer. All of this shifting and then I start the process again. I can’t get comfortable. I can’t calm down.

Recently, I went to the hospital for pain in my abdomen. After they had diagnosed me with diverticulitis, the nurse said she couldn’t release me until my pulse dropped below one hundred. I told her I would never be going home. They gave me an anti-anxiety medication, and my pulse dipped to ninety-seven for a few minutes, and I was allowed to go home. It felt like more than seven hours waiting in that dark room for my pulse to drop. Wanting to see the numbers drop made it tick even tick even higher.

There are the fears or the anxiety, which is it? Does it matter? It all feels the same: checking on my husband when he takes the bus in the early morning before the sun is out or after dark on his way home. Being unable to stay by myself when my husband travels out of town on business. A pain here, an ache there and do I have cancer preoccupies my thoughts. “Am I dying,” follows. If we go somewhere by car, will we get in a wreck? Will financial hardship hit? Will we be broke? A stream of thoughts where the destination is the ocean of the possibility of bad things.

People tell me to meditate. I’ve tried meditation, and I still end up with scenarios that are devastating or unpleasant.

People tell me to practice mindfulness. “Live in the moment,” they say. I try focusing but intrusive thoughts (anxiety and fear) are not fooled by trying to box in the mind. It becomes a free-for-all.

Some well-meaning people tell me to try probiotic or juicing. Others tell I have a demon (I find those people to be the most hateful and harmful). I don’t know anyone who wants to believe in a God that would allow a demon to act out its will willy-nilly inside of them. Besides, I have prayed and repented. I still have to live, and living means experiencing fear and anxiety – anxiety and fear.

If you don’t know it, don’t try to diagnose it. The solution isn’t simple, and the remedy doesn’t fit nicely into a rhythm that is like the steps of baking a cake or cookies.

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good cookie and a rich chocolate cake, but they live alongside fear and anxiety not as a solution.