top of page

Field Notes is a free weekly newsletter

Anxiety AKA My Brain Strikes Again | Note 26

This note might not make much sense. I simply cannot plan it. Can’t even envisage a subject. My brain is frazzled, my stomach hurts, my heart is beating way too fast. I’m in the middle of an anxiety flare up – or worse yet, probably at its start.

I hate that very word. Anxiety. It sounds weak. Pitiful. A fear without a reason.

I didn’t know the word back then, but I distinctly remember my mum having anxiety when I was a kid. She was a single parent, a carer for her own mother, and working professionally to support the household. A child as I was, I had no points of reference to understand the pressure she was under. I still recollect her shallow breathing, eyes wandering on the ceiling as she was lying in bed, doing all that she could to get herself together.

And I remember feeling embarrassed for her.The only thing that I saw was that everything was quite fine. Why was my mother looking for problems where there were none? Adults can be quite silly, I thought and, standing at the door to her bedroom, I promised myself never to act this way.

Would that it were so simple. (Said in the exact voice of Ralph Fiennes, pained by the inadequacies of reality.) Sitting in front of my favourite window overlooking our garden and watching one of our cats scratch her back on the concrete terrace, I simply can’t help it. My brain is playing tricks on me, again.

It’s not nearly as bad as it was four years ago when two days before the second Women’s Bouldering Festival, a friend had to drive me to a doctor’s office to put me on some meds – any meds – that would take me out of the fight-or-flight state. I had been like that for a good twenty-four hours, and we were beginning to worry I might get a heart attack, or some other condition equally inconvenient ahead of running a climbing event.

In a Fontainebleau office with a beautiful grand piano, an incredibly obese, smiling psychiatrist gave me a prescription for what he himself took ahead of long-haul flights. (Don’t like planes too much, he said.) At home, I quartered the pill and, within half an hour, I was... continue reading now⤑


"Beautifully written and well researched"



From Rock Climbing Pioneers
to Olympic Athletes

a new book by Zofia Reych

bottom of page