Dancing Machine

In a turn that surprised even me, dancing saved my life.

This phenomena called “status migrainous” means you have migraine symptoms until you go insane.  More than three days.  My symptoms come and go, but my brain won’t right itself.  My life isn’t in danger, really, it just feels that way.

I went home for lunch on migraine day five, and either because I’ve been taking pills with caffeine for five days straight, or because my nervous system is exhausted from fighting the whackity-whack in my brain, I suddenly felt kind of like I was about to die, sitting on my couch with my cat and a bowl of macaroni and cheese watching that Satan woman on “True Blood” hang meat in a tree for her party (don’t ask, but that wasn’t the problem).

It is sort of all in your head, anxiety, but that’s like saying that your personality is all in your head, so it should be easy to be someone else.  Your brain has a great role to play in running the body.  When it is misfiring, your ability to override it is limited.

So I felt like I was going to die for no reason: the shaking hands, the loss of abdominal gravity, the zooming questions and thought demands.  I gotta call somebody.  I gotta do something.  NOW.  Dancing didn’t work alone, to tell the truth.  Meditation helped: I realized while my brain was going nuts, I did not have to.

I am a novice meditator.  I have a 15-minute 5 day a week habit.  I have had enough practice to establish a tiny beachhead of sanity away from the machinations of my mind.  Just enough that I thought, I should head back to that beachhead, away from my brain.  And on the beach, as the show rolled into the theme song, I thought: this is a good song.  I should dance.

Exercise and anxiety are not great together, because your heart pounding faster tells your body that you REALLY ARE IN TROUBLE JUST LIKE WE THOUGHT!  But a little dancing doesn’t make my heart pound.  It just makes me look like a lunatic, swaying around to “I Wanna Do Bad Things To You” in my work clothes, in the middle of the day.  That was all right.  I was alone.

The calming yoga I did just made me worry more about my breathing.  A scary moment in the show (of which there are many) could set me off more than distract me.  But dancing around did it for me at age three.  Rhythm.  Enthusiasm that uses the energy.  No moshing, just mellow swaying, about “Night Fever” tempo.  Nothing to be afraid of.  I realized I was fine, and I kept going.  When the song ended, I rewinded to practice once more.  I could breathe again.  Calmed is almost as good as cured.

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3 thoughts on “Dancing Machine”

  1. interesting blog, i will augur down. i am a spanish dancer – ballet, folklorico, flamenco – in cochabamba, bolivia, and an english teacher. nothing like an intricate seven-minute footwork routine that takes six-months to learn to clear your brain.

    enjoyed and agreed with your post on the times today, except for “the reason is…because” part. i guess that is a losing battle. and here it is again in another times post a little further down:

    “Ironically, part of the reason why TFA has difficulty retaining teachers is because of a self-selection issue posed by it’s prestige — it attracts people who are quite talented but also quite ambitious.”

    when i hear people who should know better – bill clinton, barack obama – use this redundancy, possibly is a folksy attempt to speak to the peeps, i shudder for the republic.

    i know, pick, pick, pick.

    1. It’s hard to edit yourself, and I appreciate precision in language. If you used “The reason…” all you need is an “is.” “Omit needless words!” as Strunk & White would say.

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