I have this tendency to be “on” when some big event is about to go down. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. I can be on when I’m at an event for work, or when I’m running a meeting, or in the midst of a new project. On is good. I’m more aware of my surroundings. I’m cognizant of what people are feeling. I’m noticing the little details that may need attention.
When I worked at camp, I had to be on during severe weather outbreaks. During my last year at camp, when I was assistant camp director, I think we had between four and seven of them, a good portion of which seemed to happen when it was my director’s day off, which meant I was in charge of the whole camp. On peak weeks, that was between 350 and 400 people.
I was in one of the storm shelters, the crappy one in the middle of camp, and something always seemed to go wrong: a kid got an allergic reaction, it was sweltering humidity, the lights wouldn’t work, a parent got angry. It was one thing after another and it wore me down over the course of the summer. I got stressed out even thinking about going into the storm shelters. Seeing a line of dangerous-looking clouds made me a nervous wreck. If the conditions even possibly looked right, I was glued to my radio. I often hid in the director’s office glued to any broadcast reports about storms. I wouldn’t say those days gave me a nervous breakdown, but just seeing the clouds sent my adrenaline levels into overdrive. I really hated it.
I still sometimes think like that whenever I see a storm. I don’t think that’s a good thing. My day was basically ruined as soon as I knew that was happening. I imagined a long time to get home, bad traffic, not being able to run outside, possible power outage. I just didn’t like the feeling of it.
I went home and took a nap. I thought I’d be falling asleep for only about 20 minutes, but of course twenty minutes turned into an hour. I just felt groggy for the rest of the evening. I got angsty and nervous. I didn’t want to do anything and I couldn’t relax.
I tried to go out for a run after the storm had passed, but my knee felt uncomfortable enough that I didn’t want to risk going out for a run on it. I finally calmed down after I put an episode of the West Wing on. It took me a while to fall asleep though, not because I was scared, but because I had taken the dang nape beforehand.
I hate that this anxiety still follows me over five years later. I’m not scared of storms, they just throw me into a different mode that exhausts me and is not conducive to relaxation. Maybe the best route is to associate storms with something good again. I’ve got to find out what that is.