Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘anxiety


with 2 comments



there is something to it
the energy
brain chemistry
powerful juju
but who’s in control?
who’s driving that bus?
because it’s not in control
and moving way too fast
so much momentum
ignores the breath
it’s flooding the circuits
alarm bells and whistles
betray their intent
when employed so flat out
too many days in a row
searching for relief
from the race
by racing
by some different magic
the solution just shows up
with little in the way of fanfare
the race can be over
if you can choose
to simply




Written by johnwhays

October 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Reclaiming Peace

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The days following a disruptive weather event can be a confusing mix, emotionally. The threat has lifted and calm ensues, but the anxiety adrenaline hangover lingers. We are lucky to have dodged any significant damage or loss of power, but the multiple inches of dirty snow/slush, speckled with innumerable broken branches, delay the feeling of relief we seek.

Thank goodness for our hills and valleys that break up the wind around here.

The open terrain to the west didn’t protect the overexposed, iced up power poles lining roadways.

We don’t have anything near that level of clean up facing us. That must have been a real shocker to come upon.

Some of the local hunters stopped by for permission to cross our property with their dogs in search of coyotes. A short time later, gunshots rang out.

I had watched as the group of hounds calmly traveled out of the neighboring corn field and into the woods, with a single hunter walking behind them. After they disappeared into the ravine beyond our property, we never saw another glimpse of them.

One of these days, I’m going to ask if I can tag along. It occurred to me yesterday, that in all our years here, I have never actually seen a coyote. I’m curious about the logistics of how they finally get proximity to shoot, and then how they find their way out of the woods while carrying their kill.

In less than three weeks, our annual participation in the World Labyrinth Day peace walk will be upon us. We are finding it difficult to envision how we might be ready.

It’s not just the peace pole that can’t stand up in the soft earth. The stones balanced at each turn spend more time toppled that upright with all the freezing and thawing going on.

Our exercise may just be to claim our peace with accepting things just as they are.

Windy, calm; wet, or dry.





Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2019 at 9:37 am

Infuriating Sounds

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I’m just discovering this now. The irrational over-reaction I occasionally experience –say, to the mouth sounds of my wife chewing beside me– has a label: Misophonia. I’m well aware of plenty of people who voice irritation over a variety of particular sounds, but reading about the fight-or-flight reaction being triggered in the brain really caught my attention.

When I feel this surprisingly intense anxiety pop up, as the ambient quiet of an evening gets disrupted by the munching of almonds, I have been curious about a sudden desire to crawl out of my skin in hope of escape.

It’s as if I’m being attacked.

Since it is obvious that I’m not, the idea that my brain is firing as if the command to run away has been triggered, seems like a very plausible explanation.

Almost everyone is irritated by the sound of fingernails across a chalkboard, but a misophonic reaction goes well beyond irritation.

Misophonia is characterized by intense emotion like rage or fear in response to highly specific sounds, particularly ordinary sounds that other people make…

“It’s as if the survival part of the brain thinks somehow it’s being attacked or it’s in danger…”


Choosing to just ignore the sound is not an option when your brain has fired and the whole body is revving up for a fight.

“Must. Stop. That. Sound. Before it kills me!”

My siblings may recall our family dinnertime ritual of being chastised by our beloved sister, Linda, for letting our teeth make contact with our fork.

I now have a better understanding of why that probably made her so angry.



Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Unexpected Anxiety

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Back on August 1st of this year, the Twin Cities marked the tenth anniversary of the 35W bridge collapse across the Mississippi River. On Tuesday, I unexpectedly found myself remembering it again, with an unnerving amount of anxiety.

On the way home from work, driving east, past downtown Minneapolis on I94, flashing lights of a state highway patrol car caught my attention as it made its way into the flow of traffic ahead of me. Never a good sign.

Brakelights were soon to follow, quickly filling all four lanes. Eventually, I could see an overhead sign in the distance with information. An accident east of the Huron exit had closed two of the left lanes.

Traffic crawled at a snail’s pace, bumper to bumper. It was a little claustrophobia-inducing, with plenty of large trucks mixed in among the autos.

Then, I and all the many vehicles around me reached the bridge crossing the Mississippi river, just south of the 35W bridge. There we sat.

Way too long, for my comfort.

And there was nothing I could do. It became nerve-wracking. Normally, we whiz over this bridge in an instant, but now the weight of these many vehicles was a static load. The west-bound lanes were freely flowing, and I could feel the bridge shake when that traffic passed across the deck.

We progressed not in feet, but inches. The slower the progress was, the tighter the congestion seemed to get. I allowed for greater space between my bumper and the car ahead of me. Images of what it would be like to suddenly be dropping appeared in my mind.

I did not want to be stopped on that bridge –especially when surrounded by the combined weight of all the other vehicles around me.

Talk about anxiety. Imagine what that would have been like for someone who actually was involved in the 35W collapse in 2007. No thank you.

With great relief, I reached the other side of the bridge without incident. I had successfully avoided a screaming and pounding meltdown, despite an urge that lurked surprisingly close. Conscious breathing does wonders in moments like this.

A short distance ahead, I reached sight of flashing emergency lights and the traffic in the left two lanes began forcing their way, two-at-a-time into my lane. Upon reaching the location of the incident, the scene was rather odd. It’s hard to know how many responders may have already departed, but there were only two patrol cars and officers, plus a highway helper truck managing traffic.

A dramatically squished car with fluids beneath it rested cockeyed in the second lane. That was it. No other debris, no people, no tow truck. I’m guessing there was a lot of activity there while I was stuck in line for the preceding 15 or 20 minutes.

From that point, it was instantly back to highway speeds and an uneventful commute the rest of the way home, during which, I had time to think more about what people experienced 10-years ago when the 35W bridge collapsed.



Written by johnwhays

October 19, 2017 at 6:00 am