Tag: Anxiety

Never Surrender

Bella snoozing at the keyboard

It’s been a while… a long while.

The old me would take this opportunity to ‘cleanse’ the blog and move forward with a new chapter and a clean, fresh start. Maybe that would be good in some ways. I like to think I learn from my past, though, and how can I do that if every time I move to the next chapter, I rip out the last? No, I look back over the blog and with my older, wiser, more experienced eyes, I see growth. It all will stay, this time. The person I am today is built on the lessons of all my yesterdays.

As I write this, I am curled up on a big bed with several blankets, snuggled half under them and wrapped in an added layer of thick hoodie. One dog is snuggled up against my belly as close to my hands as she can get without being under my typing hands. She, Bella, will slowly inch her little nose up to the corner of my keyboard until she finally braves shoving my hand up to demand petting. I’ll pet her a moment, then she’ll be content enough to let me type a bit more before she repeats the process. Another of the dogs, Angel, is curled up at the foot of the bed, using my feet as a pillow. The cat, Willow, is curled up on my hip. Pandora is playing “Rather Be” quietly. Patchouli incense fills the air. The atmosphere is as upbeat and peaceful as I could hope. The only thing that could make it better would be if my beloved partner, ChessyCat, were home…

Her new schedule means I spend the evenings alone with my thoughts and whims. This isn’t necessarily unhealthy, but it is challenging. See, I struggle with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Even now, after finally giving myself permission to live genuinely and making leaps and bounds toward accepting myself just as I am, I still struggle with these old companions. Depression is the unwelcome pessimist at the party and Anxiety is my long time frienemy who whips me into a frothing panic over the most mundane and minor things under the guise of ‘protecting me’ whenever the mood strikes it. We have made great progress in the last year on improving our relationship, but there isn’t a relationship counselor alive that could convince Anxiety to leave me alone for good, and Depression won’t even go to the appointments.

That’s what brings me to the blog tonight. Look at that picture: snuggled up all warm and cozy with furbabies and music and incense and quietly singing wind chimes in the background… Picture perfect. It’s glorious. Last I spoke to ChessyCat she called and said she loves me and made me feel special just by taking the time on her break to speak to me. I still get hugs before bed from MaRoo and I’m not totally alone in the house by any measure. I have a good life right now. Money is tight sometimes, of course, but when isn’t it? I still have a car and home and job. What the hell do I have to be depressed or anxious about? I’ve tackled this before on this blog, but it comes back around enough that I feel it bears repeating…

Depression doesn’t care. Depression and Anxiety both lie. Neither gives a damn how good your life is or how great you’ve got it, they will attack whenever they please. Anxiety will latch onto the tiniest doubt and make it into something so much worse than it really is. Depression will cast a shadow over the brightest circumstance.

For example: ChessyCat calls me on her lunch break every day. She was late, today. LogicBrain knows perfectly well that her break times shift depending on the work load. LogicBrain knows that when we spoke at her first break, she said bright things including “I love you” and “I miss you.” LogicBrain knows the score… Anxiety, though? She’s not been late once since she started this job. Anxiety points out that I forgot to scoop the litter box in the morning and I didn’t wash that pan last night, so she must be mad at me. Anxiety capitalizes on this completely mundane delay in a phone call to try and work me into a froth of panic over something that has nothing to do with any flaw or mistake on my part at all. Anxiety is narcissistic. Everything is about Anxiety and me. Anything can become my fault, even if it’s not. Depression then feeds off the awful feelings the panic creates and it all spirals out of control if I don’t manage to get a handle on it early.

The thing that I have been working on the hardest in this respect is giving myself permission to feel these things. I don’t mean that I am allowing myself to fall victim willingly to the sick mind games of Anxiety and Depression and wallow in the resulting pain and distress. More accurately, I am learning to give myself permission to be broken. I am learning to accept that I am damaged goods and that being such doesn’t mean that I am not still valuable and worthy. Turning around on myself and telling myself I have no right to feel anxious or depressed because my life is good and there’s no reason just feeds these persistent moochers in my mind. Denying the negative feelings’ existence prevents proper processing of those feelings. Shaming myself for feeling the negative feelings adds guilt to the pile of unpleasantness my brain is gleefully assembling against me.

Anxiety and Depression have been feeding off of my distress in my weakest moments for most of my life and no matter how much I try to starve them, they will never go away for good. Accepting this fact does not mean I am accepting defeat; rather, it means that I am acknowledging the flaws in my design and learning to compensate for them. We are all flawed. We are, by nature, imperfect beings. Were we perfect, we wouldn’t be human. We are beautifully broken… perfectly imperfect.

Tonight, I won. LogicBrain gave the reasonable and sensible arguments against my anxiety and I was able to engage my coping mechanisms swiftly and to great effect before things spiraled out of control inside my head. Nights like tonight, I can stack the deck in my favor by seeking companionship where I can or isolating myself until the nerves settle, snuggling the furbabies, playing uplifting or calming music, and generally engaging every coping mechanism I have until the psychic attack is over.

Sometimes I lose. Sometimes Anxiety is a ninja, so subtle and clever that I never have a chance to sound the red alert before it’s too late. Depression slips in right behind it and disables engineering so I can’t engage the warp core and escape. These are the nights that find me hiding behind a collar, crying quietly in the dark, longing for the comfort of a sharp blade or a cigarette, and questioning if the world wouldn’t be better without me in it.

That’s okay. No one wins every time. Each time I lose, I make it to the other side knowing that next time I might win. Mine is a life of constant vigilance against a foe that exists in my own head with me. I accept this. I accept that I may struggle. I accept that I am not perfect.

I will not ever accept defeat.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Night Terrors

Terror in a whisper
A foolish borrowed fear
Dread I welcome into me
A future so unclear
This love is something different
Something special
Something new
It’s nothing like I’ve ever known
This love I have for you
This passion tears right through me
I need you deep inside
I long to have you near me
absence I cannot abide
But when the shadows twist and stretch
And stars light up the sky
There’s terror in a whisper
That might one day say ‘goodbye’

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Paging Dr. Chester

Good morning. Good night. Whatever you choose to say at 2:45 AM to the only other poor sap still awake waiting for the sky to fall.

 

I should have been asleep an hour ago. Unsurprisingly, I am very much awake. Everyone, I’d like you to say hello to our very special guest, “Anxiety”.

 

I have a great life. I have an abundance of love in my life, and people who make me feel like I’m special and wanted and needed. I have all my basic necessities and enough left over to have a little fun now and then. I have great dogs, warm blankets for winter, and an air conditioner for summer. I’ve got luxury livin’.

 

I’ve also got this guy: Anxiety.

 

For reasons unbeknownst to mere mortals, my brain, in all its infinite wisdom, invites this bastard over to play at the most inconvenient times, with no provocation whatsoever. Heavens forbid I attempt to just enjoy going out on a date or spend a while basking in the carefree company of loved ones. No, that’s when this guy shows up with a case of cut rate beer and a megaphone and starts drunkenly shouting lies from the roof and pissing in my begonias. It happens every time. This jackass is the kind of ‘friend’ that makes you want to call a better friend to help you bury the body when you’re done ‘expressing your opinion’ all over his hateful face. Unfortunately, he’s a pretty convincing liar and I am weak in the wee hours of the morning.

 

He tells lies like these:

“They don’t really love you.”

“You’re just convenient until someone better comes along.”

“You screwed up and they just haven’t noticed yet.”

“You’re a failure. Why do you bother?”

“Something big is about to blow up in your face.”

“Something is horribly wrong and the fallout is going to ruin your life.”

“They’re all going to leave you.”

 

Tonight’s special flavor is “You’ve done or said something horribly wrong and they’re just trying to figure out how to tell you to fuck off” and “you don’t deserve all this, it’s going to fall apart”. Well you know what? I’m done with this asshole. Logic and evidence, motherfucker! It’s time to get angry enough to kick this unwanted guest out of my head.

 

“You’ve done or said something horribly wrong and they’re just trying to figure out how to tell you to fuck off.”

Yeah, no. If that were true, why would they have kept saying such sweet things all day? Why would they keep reaching out to me and encouraging conversation if they were mad at me? More than either of these, they have a proven track record of just being honest about their feelings with me. No, it just doesn’t add up. I’ve not upset anyone in this way tonight. Anxiety: 0 Me: 1

 

“You don’t deserve all this and it’s going to fall apart.”

This one is trickier. My self-esteem supports this by frequently telling me I don’t deserve the love I receive. Well you know what, asshole? Read my last blog post!!! This is The Year of Infinite Love! Instead of listening to your ill-informed tirade on my unworthiness, I choose instead to love myself and to love the ones you try to convince me I don’t deserve. I do deserve love, just like everyone else. Anxiety: 0 Me: 2

 

The universe agrees, too! “Ever mind the rule of three, what you send out comes back to thee” ring any bells? How about simple Karma? I wear my heart on my sleeve and give out kindness wherever I can. I express my love at every opportunity. I send out love in many ways, so why the hell wouldn’t I deserve some reciprocation? Anxiety: 0 Me: 3

 

This is usually where I stop myself and say something along the along the lines of “damn, you sound self-absorbed and prideful.” Not this time. I’m not trying to say I’m perfect. I’m just saying that maybe the good things about me that people have been pointing out to me my whole life are true. Maybe I am too nice for my own good. Maybe I am a lover, not a fighter. Maybe I am kind, and gentle, and sweet. Refusing to accept these things and let myself receive love with gratitude suggests that some part of my brain believes the voices of these compliments to be liars. How unfair is that? No, I choose to respect the people in my world who say I’m worth loving. Anxiety: 0 Me: 4

 

Game. Set. Match.

 

This is life with clinically diagnosed General Anxiety Disorder. Small things look huge, nearly invisible flaws seem glaringly obvious, and small challenges look like insurmountable walls. The glance from the cashier checking your groceries is actually a glare of bitter judgement because you’re fat and bought ice cream. The silence from your friends or lovers isn’t because they’re busy or don’t have anything to say right now, but because they’re angry or upset with you. The dogs aren’t asking for attention because they secretly hate you. Your boss is just waiting for an excuse to fire you; don’t trust that welcoming smile. Worst of all, the moment things get too good for you, bad things will happen to ruin that high.

 

Sometimes using a coping mechanism like making lists of why the thoughts are wrong or writing in a journal or on a blog can help. Sometimes, Anxiety brings the professional grade super-powered megaphone and becomes too loud for a little sound reasoning to drown out. Occasionally, it’s so loud the brain just short circuits… that’s when the panic attacks happen.

 

Today, I think I’m winning with a bit of writing and reasoning. Tomorrow, I could find myself curled up in a dark corner desperately clutching my teddy bear as I bawl my eyes out, struggle to breathe, and beg for death. There’s always a chance, though, that tomorrow could find Anxiety so hungover that he sleeps for a week and I get to spend a little time freely enjoying life and trusting in the goodness of the world around me. This is the crap shoot of my life. I can never know when Anxiety is going to throw a Molotov cocktail into my glittering mood. A beautiful day full of words of comfort, love, and affection can go suddenly sideways with just a little nudge from Anxiety. It’s just something I get to live with.

 

What makes it better is that I am surrounded by supportive, patient, loving people who don’t hold my anxieties against me. People who will hold my hand and tell me the same things a million times if it will help me to believe that they love me. People who understand that sometimes the best doctor is Chester the Teddy Bear and the best medicine is silent snuggles; a cup of cocoa and a long talk about feelings; or a distracting movie or show. People who love me regardless of what Anxiety has to say about them or their motivations. You know who you are.

 

If you have someone with severe anxiety in your life, try and remember that sometimes even the most Vulcan logic cannot silence the ravings of this  unwelcome guest in our heads. We know it’s not easy for you to see us like this, or to understand how we can get so worked up over imagined scenarios or vague feelings of dread. We know it’s hard on you when we have panic attacks or when we ask for reassurance so often it’s annoying. We are grateful for all that you do to support us.

 

To my own support network, I want to say “Thank you.” Thank you for being so patient with me and for showing me that I am loved even when I feel like so many pounds of recycled rhinoceros dung. Thank you for loving me through the darkness and the fear and the uncertainty. Thank you for plugging in the night light and warming the cocoa and warding off the monsters in the closet. Thank you for holding me when I feel like I’m falling and letting me go when I feel like I’m suffocating. Thank you for the teddy bears and the warm blankets and the distracting movies and the gentle words.

 

Thank you.

 

Without you, I probably wouldn’t be alive today.

 

To all of you, I say goodnight. The voice of Anxiety is silenced for now. I’ve stolen the batteries for his megaphone and hidden them in the fish tank. Perhaps he will stay away for a little while this time. Perhaps now, I can sleep.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail