Having anxiety is a lot like running a race that you know you’ll never win. You start out optimistic, thinking that you know which hurdles you’ll need to jump but soon realize that no part of the race is predictable or fair, and you end up feeling like a failure each and every leg of the race. Except, unlike a race, anxiety never ends. Ever. Like, never ever.
I realized today, after dropping my daughter off at school, that anxiety is a sneaky little thing that can strike at any time. I was driving by a pawn shop and got that old familiar stab of tightness in my chest for no real reason. I once had things in a storage unit that ended up being auctioned off, so my thought process might have jumped from that to the idea that people who bought my old stuff might have pawned it off. But really, what the hell, Shannon?
Not being able to control when or where my panic attacks (large or small) will pop up is aggravating, but even more so is the constant underlying feeling that something is wrong and I need to worry about it. All the time. Constantly. Most people get to take vacations away from the stresses of life, but for people like me the stress IS life. There is no escape.
Vacation can often times be even worse, actually. When you add in unfamiliar surroundings to a mind that’s already at war with itself, it’s like a bomb waiting to go off. A bomb of hyperventilating and freaking out over nothing. Literally. Absolutely nothing.
I envy those that don’t have to constantly battle with themselves. Do you know how exhausting it is to have to constantly sort out rational and irrational thought? And how exhausting it is to really have to try and see the difference? It’s terrible. Those commercials for medications that deal with depression and talk about “getting back to your old self” are bullshit. If you live with anxiety or depression, you don’t know how else to be.
I would love to be the person I think I am. Witty, intelligent, interesting, put together, organized, energetic, etc. Instead I am only two of those things and only because I have to make up for the mess inside of my brain. The best thing that can happen for somebody with anxiety (and ultimately depression since the two are like siamese twins that the devil designed) is to realize that while it’s always going to be there, but you can make it better. Create coping mechanisms and don’t allow yourself to be a victim. Just because you HAVE anxiety, doesn’t mean that anxiety HAS you. Don’t let it.
Some days are bad. Some days are not. Relish the good days but allow yourself a few bad days. Reward yourself for the small victories (I left the house today, woohoo! Time for 12 hours of the Sims to celebrate), but don’t punish yourself for the failures (I couldn’t leave the house today, but it’s okay because I am still valuable and important).