Anxiety

Anxiety. It’s a thing I’ve struggled with most of my life. I deal with a level of it that occasionally requires medication for panic attacks, and I also spent about two years of my life so embedded in anxiety that I couldn’t even leave the house without someone accompanying me. I deal with post traumatic stress as well, and it’s probably not a combination that usually lends itself to solo international travel or relocation overseas. It’s also been kicking me in the teeth a lot this week.

This is something that I knew was inevitable. High stress situations intensify anxiety, as does feeling isolated, and moving to another country pegs high on both of those scales. Not knowing the language lends itself to a certain feeling of helplessness as well. I’m doing my best not to let it all get to me, as I know from experience it is a passing thing, even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment.

I’ll admit I spent a day or two just hanging around the flat writing. I got an email from my friend in Granada soliciting some poems for an anthology he’s going to publish with a due date of June 21st, so I do need to actually put words on paper for that. But there are necessary things that need doing, and places that require going, and no amount of avoidance (a big thing when the anxiety hits) is going to do things or go places. Even when I lived in Everett, surrounded by friends, I had days where just taking the dog out for a walk was a fraught activity but, when you live alone, nobody is going to walk the dog for you, no matter how awful you feel for whatever reason.

Part of me knows that if I actually put on my shoes and my jacket and walk out the door, I will feel better, but it’s hard to convince that tight knot that’s made its home in my chest that this is true.

I went to my first Italian class on Monday. The teacher had been waiting for four people to sign up; they did, and I was the only one who actually showed up. That meant I got a lot of really good intensive time with her, so I was pleased. I was told that after I took the first class, I could decide if I wanted to continue, and to pay before the second class (this coming Monday). I told her after our first session that if she was good with teaching one person, I would be happy to keep coming and working with her. Today I went and paid the class fee. The class is twenty hours, ten weeks.

We started out with some reading, not for comprehension but for the sound of the language. There was a reading for comprehension exercise, some fill in the blank stuff for the verbs essere and avere – to be and to have – and personal pronouns, answering questions based on pictures, and a read through of a short newspaper article. She’d chosen the article after skimming the first couple of (short) sentences but hadn’t realized that the article then evolved into lengthy sentences with semicolons and dependent clauses. We read it aloud, her first and me following after, as I struggled with pronouncing things. We worked on translating the article as we went along. Between her rough English and my appalling Italian, I would break out my dictionary as she struggled for the right word to help me along, and we got through about nine column inches of text.

The class was intended to last two hours. With just the two of us, we did a little over an hour and 45 minutes, but I felt like it was time very well spent. If there had been two or three other students, it probably would have run a lot longer and we wouldn’t have got through everything. She gave me homework to write three sentences sort of on the theme of being a child and things I did as a kid. I didn’t do short, three word sentences, but I wasn’t going for dependent clauses, either. I did get three sentences together, though I know one of them has some issues because I’m not sure how to say a particular thing, but she’ll correct it when I see her again. That’s what this is all for, after all. A class is a safe environment to make mistakes.

We’ve had a couple of nice, sunny days in Trieste, but I’ve been too busy to go around taking photos. I’ll try to have some more for you this weekend, as I want to get to the Aquarium soon.

I have spent a fair bit of time since I got here trying to locate a rice cooker and a water filter pitcher around town, both of which I finally found today at a little kitchen supply shop. The rice cooker is larger than I’d like, but cooked rice keeps and can be frozen. The water filter is going to help immensely for reducing the chalky taste and the film on top of the water here, so my tea will actually finally taste like tea again. Both of these are things I consider really necessary maintenance items. I eat a lot of rice, and clean water that doesn’t taste weird is mandatory.

On my walkabout this afternoon, I found a larger grocery store with a better selection of fruits and vegetables than the one on the corner, and a somewhat different selection of meat and cheese. There’s a larger selection of a bunch of other stuff, as well, which is good. I bought some of what I think are beets, but they’re neither the deep red I’m used to nor the gold sort, so I’ll find out what they taste like. They looked nice, though. The store is not all that far, and it’s great to have so many choices within easy walking distance. I know there are a wide variety of others in the area as well that I haven’t yet explored, and that doesn’t count any of the small shops that are just for fish or meat or diary or fruit and veg. Because of the anxiety, I tend to be a little hesitant to go into new shops, particularly when I am struggling just to ask basic questions, but I’m very happy with the fact that I have actually been doing these things. I might get myself one of those little carts I see some people pulling along behind them for when I have to get heavy things at the grocery.

I talked to the people at the American Corner this morning. They had a coffee and conversation group from 10 am to noon, and it was really nice to get out and talk to people for a while, even if almost all of it was in English. I asked about finding a doctor who speaks English – I’m not going to put my health issues on the line with my bad Italian if there’s any choice, because some of my problems are rather complicated – and was referred to a doctor whom one of the people there had been going to for several years. Now all I have to do is conquer my phone anxiety to call and make an appointment, as I’ve run out of one of my (less vital) medications, and I don’t want to even come close to running out of the antidepressants!

Depending on the weather tomorrow, and how my hip is recovering from its creakiness after my wandering, I may stay in and work on some poems. We’ll see what happens.

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7 thoughts on “Anxiety

  1. I think it’s brilliant that you’re learning Italian, and more so that you got – however accidentally – the instructor to yourself for the first go. Sorry you’re having the anxiety and whatnot, bebe, it’s so hard to push through that sometimes, I know. You really are kicking ass and taking names, though. Look how MUCH you’ve done this far! \o/ Wishing you luck that this doctor is a good one. Vurra important!
    Also: WOOTS! For the writing! ;D

    • Well, I have taken one name, at least! 😉 I was actually kind of glad to get the teacher to myself. The more people who get involved in the mix, the more anxiety it tends to produce for me, especially in environments where I know I am going to make a lot of mistakes. I don’t want to have to be managing extra anxiety while I’m also managing language learning!

  2. I hope you will take pictures of those “beets”. Could they have been turnips?

    I am amazed you found a rice cooker. Brava! A shopping bag on wheels (called a carrello where I live) is definitely worth having. I have the kind that has wheels you can pull up stairs. It is also the type where you can remove the sack from the aluminum frame entirely and just end up with a dolly/hand truck. I bought a couple of bungee cords which enables me to move stuff iike with a hand truck. Generally, though I find i use my backpack most for shopping, because we have a lot of stairs where I live and it is easier on my back than pulling something behind me.

    I think if you like to do things well then emotions get involved if you are learning a new language. It’s just a messy process to be guessing about what is the correct word or form. It is understandable to want to avoid making messes, so it is easy to get into avoidance mode hoping to avoid the feeling of making mistakes all the time. Wish I had some brilliant advice but I don’t — except to remind that goofing up in a foreign language isn’t a biggie and making mistakes is how people learn.

    • Oh, no, they’re definitely beets, they’re just a brighter red than I’m used to, with just a blush of orange. I know turnips and rutabagas and so forth. I thought there was a vague possibility they might be radishes, but they smell like beets when I took a fingernail to the peel at home here, not the bright, peppery scent of radish.

      I shall have to keep an eye out for the sort of cart you can take the bag off. It would be useful to have something I can multipurpose. I live in the second floor but there’s an elevator. There are seven steps to get up to it, but they’re really not that bad.

      I have already made the “fish/peach” mistake. 😉 Pronunciation is a bear.

    • Strangely, they actually are radishes. (I like radishes too.) They smell like beets but I peeled off the bits one should peel off and took a little nip of it raw before deciding what to do with it. They’re very mild but have that distinctively peppery radish taste to them. Noms. I still don’t know where to find beets, but I’m sure I’ll come up with them somewhere.

      • Interesting! I’m sure you’ve encountered by now all the horseradish the Triestini love to eat. (If not, you should make your way to Buffet da Pepi (near the James Joyce statue in the canals) when you feel you can handle a LOT of meat and enjoy a platter with “kren” (grated horseradish).

        Yes, I always have to stop and think before I ask for peach juice in the summertime.

    • I have indeed eaten at Pepi. Sammich and a glass of fizzy water for €4 makes me very happy. I love horseradish. We actually grew some on the farm where I grew up. One early spring, just when the ground was barely thawed, we dug some up and made horseradish. We had one of those hand turned food grinders. We’d never done this before so we had no idea how very pungent the stuff was. We had all the doors and windows open – it was freezing out – and would run in and turn the crank then run back out while someone else went in to take a few cranks of the grinder.

      It was the best horseradish I’ve ever had in my life, though.

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