I promise all these posts in 2013 won’t be on, around or “in the moat”. However, there has been a lot of discovery and rehashing of things in my moat, because we are coming upon the one year anniversary of when I lost my proverbial shit – that time in January and February when we were buying and selling two houses, scurrying to prepare the new house and make it ours, work was utterly miserable due to some really poor managament whose name rhymes with Jacinda and Rob, and the anxiety of all those things (plus MORE!) started to spiral around me and was taking me down. I was on a fast train to AnxiousTown and I was trying to be elected their paranoid mayor.
I have been seeing my Psychologist/therapist/lady (I don’t really know what to call her) weekly for more than five months. Before that, I was seeing a Psychiatrist for meds, and a Licensed Counselor for venting and trying to figure out why I was so physically emotional and wigged out. I just tossed a lot of words around there that can often be heard in a scary way. I assure you, it’s less scary than trying to face your whole, long life ahead of you not knowing how to cope with your internal battles that people with anxiety and some depression wake up with every day. Things weren’t going great with the Psychiatrist and counselor, aka my needs weren’t being met in any measurable way and I was making no progress, so I went to see my primary care doctor to help me. And help he did. I got a better mix of medicines, the name of a wonderful Pscyhologist he refers many patients to in order to get a medical perspective on mental issues, and a healthy dose of “you’re not crazy, a lot of people go through this, we’ll work on this as a team“.
It’s taken 12 months of pretty aggressive action on my part to get where I am right now. I had some good, clarifying days. I had some setbacks. Really weird ones that were a direct result how tender my bruises were and how deep they really went. By bruises, I mean that part of you that flinches when something happens, like when a friend stops being there for you. You feel abandoned, perhaps. Maybe because you’ve been abandoned by someone in the past. You feel like the wool was pulled over your eyes about something. And then you start feeling paranoid and crazy, like maybe it’s really you who’s out of touch or misinterpreting situations. It’s awesome….ly horrible.
By this time, whatever you’re concerned about has now snowballed into affecting your work, your relationships with your husband, your friends, and especially your family. Soon, you’re really good at diagnosing what causes you anxiety/panic/worry because your body will clue you in first. Tightness of the chest? Present! Difficulty taking deep breaths, or having to make a genuine effort to take them? Here! Crying your eyes out hysterically because someone knew you needed a hug and gave you one? Like once a week. All those little physical symptoms of a mental problem are nothing short of terrifying, at least for me. I react to stress differently than a lot of people. It phsyically comes out in my pores, my muscles, and my breathing. I become a shaky, short-breathed person that is silently running a million conflict scenarios back and forth, meanwhile just wanting to lie in my bed in an Ativan-induced calm until whatever I was anxious about had gone away. And THAT may be the most honest few sentences I’ve ever said about how my 2012 went.
Now that you’re treading water with me in the “moat”, I just wanted to talk a little about a great podcast I heard from NPR’s Here’s the Thing radio show, hosted by Alec Baldwin with guest Lena Dunham. Here’s my five second analogy of her before we get started: smart, creative, I could stand to see less of her body on the show “Girls”, but really says what most mid-20s people with a brain are going through. That said, this 45 minute interview was refreshing. I’ve always liked Alec Baldwin, the same way I like Robert Downey, Jr., and this interview said a lot of relevant things…perhaps mostly that Lena doesn’t know anyone in their 20s who would say things were just great. That time when it was customary to find your spouse in college, marry immediately at 22 and have three kids by 26 has changed – your 20s are now the time to fail and figure out who you want to be, what you want to do, and God forbid, choose a profession or job that doesn’t make you want to throw yourself out of those giant glass windows near your cubicle. I would agree wholeheartedly with this and more. I know I’ve talked about it multiple times on this blog in the past eight years, but I’m too lazy to link to them right now. Trust me, I did.
Thirty is edging closer. I look back in hindsight on the past year of my life and while my first thought immediately goes to how much anxiety has played a role in my life, or lack thereof sometimes, I’m not dwelling on it as much as I used to. I’ve come to terms about my 20s and I feel good about the lessons, the triumphs, the broken pieces, and the painful things I know now. I know there are flaws in me. After an entire year of being uncomfortable and anxious, I’m more comfortable being the person with those flaws, while learning to manage my impact on others when I can’t see the mental roller coaster I’m on very clearly. I even want to be a resource for those needing a little push or guidance. It’s the flaws which interrupt your life that need the attention (maybe even a Psychologist). I know I’ve been working really hard to have less interruptions and worry to make room for life, genuine behaviour and enjoying those moments I’ve been so good about recognizing when they are happening.