So I just ended a national book tour, which raised a number of very important issues for me as a human, and ones that I'm grateful came to a head because my melon felt like it had taken the Gallagher treatment by the end of it...more on that in a sec, but first I owe some people thanks.
1) I owe every bookstore owner and bookseller my gratitude regarding their enthusiasm for my imaginary friends. These people read hundreds of books a day, I'm convinced (surely they must?), and the fact they've hefted mine in the air, squinted at them, and cracked the covers is mind-blowing.
2) Hey, G. P. Putnam's Sons (and Random Penguin [yes, we need to call it Random Penguin]) and all your stellar employees--thanks for sending me on a book tour! I'm so grateful. I want to tour for you Hendrix-style for decades to come, one day incorporating actual dogs and ponies into my dog and pony show. But robot ones, so we don't need a wrangler, only a tech guru and an electrical outlet.
3) Human Beings Who for Some Reason Like to Watch a Woman Yammer Endlessly About Copper Stars and Sherlock Holmes: without you, there would be no tours, and there would be no books either. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for being kind enough to spare me a bit of your time.
Now, regarding the titular denial part.
I'm not against taking the occasional day to binge watch Battlestar Galactica. However, I have for most of my life been an EXTREMELY active person. I don't mean active in the physical sense, god no, pickle jars beat me in arm wrestling contests and I pretty much only run when I see a loose velociraptor. However, I work very hard to make EVERYTHING PERFECT. Not my housekeeping, god no, my clean socks can weep for days at a time before being matched back into couples and my dining table presently looks like a swap meet exploded. However, regarding work (previously regarding academia), if I'm not doing 130%, I figure I'm shirking. I kinda thought this was healthy, and in some ways it is healthy--I'm ambitious, and there's nothing wrong with that word.
There is something wrong, however, when you agree to do so many things at once that you feel like your brains are leaking out of your ears. Combine that with very high blood pressure, very uncomfortable anxiety and panic problems, and a taste for bourbon, and you are headed down the wrong path. This is where the denial comes in: I thought I could handle it all. I really did.
Until I didn't think I could handle it all.
We're not talking about merely my (wonderful) national book tour. We're talking about my five separate major time commitment volunteer projects as well as short story obligations, publicity requests, and the fact I like to bathe at least every week or so, before the point I start finding last month's pizza crusts in my underarm regions.
The denial was not helping, because I liked to be the person who says "No problem!" and then ninja chops her way through the project. I liked to be the juggler who keeps a cinder block, a quail egg, three tennis balls, and a smoking hot pair of fried prairie oysters in the air. I liked to be considered worthy of the proposed task, even if said task was an eyeball-gouging vortex of shit guaranteed to crunch me down and swallow me like the last Dorito.
Until I didn't like it anymore.
Denial got old after oh, say, a decade. Here's where the desperation comes in, and that was my saving grace this time.
People often tell me that they can't imagine me having anxiety, PTSD, or panic attacks (I have all three). That's because they're seeing the me I want them to look at, the one covered in camouflage, usually in the form of sequins or satin or occasionally tulle. If you wear things that are jolly enough, drink with wonderful people who are sweet and clever enough, make enough jokes, no one will notice (one hopes, if one is like me) that inside you feel like this:
See, I didn't want to feel like that, but I didn't want to TELL anyone I felt like that either. I wanted to be considered strong and competent, and not like a person whose insides were screaming like a Radiohead song covered by a metal band. I wanted people to feel "glad to see me." I wanted my friends to know I was there if they needed my help. I wanted to have this fabulous record, real all-star stats, so that if, say for example, the New Yorker just HAD to have a piece entirely focused on Dr. John H. Watson and needed someone who could have a proper chin wag with Jude Law and Martin Freeman, they'd call me up, of course, because Lyndsay really doesn't seem like the sort of person who sometimes loses all capacity to use her hands simply because someone wants her to sign a book.
Desperation solved all that for me quicker than a Rick Perry presidential bid.
I was so miserable this time around that I marched right into a doctor's office (I have a phobia of them too). I called my mom and told her what was happening and she sent a lovely care package. I started telling my friends I was a certifiable bowl of mixed nuts (some of them already knew--some didn't). And I got back from the doctor's again today after my follow-up, and I want people to know that I feel worlds better now, because lo, verily did I ask someone for help rather than to sit amongst the goats in silence as does the mute eunuch, and lo, did the physician after my asking for help say "Sure," and it came to pass that he gave me medicine for brains for the first time in my life, and yea, did I take the brain pills and find them good, and verily do I assure you who sit in silence amongst the goats as did I for so long in self-imposed exile, that lo, we are capable of cutting that shit out.
Finally, a few words about ducks.
My beautiful and wise agent says that we are like ducks. The ducks are gliding along, sleek and streamlined and graceful, and we think, man, check out that badass duck trucking it across a pond like it's riding its own private current. That duck is a BOSS. What we don't see are the duck's feet. Their little webbed feet are paddling really really hard to achieve that velocity, but all we see is the duck's shiny emerald head and its seemingly effortless motion and jolly little eyes.
If you're a duck, like I am? Talk to another duck. Or a goose or a swan. Or talk to a doctor. Or talk to your friends and family. Or talk to your online community. I will leave you with a humorous video regarding what my May was like, and I hope you enjoy it. But remember: it's OK to be a duck. But it isn't OK to hurt yourself over it. So come out, come out, ducks everywhere--have a crust of bread, settle down for a moment, and work out some ways to be good to yourselves.