and like seven days, but I have been thinking about writing this for about a week. So, that counts, right? Whatever, you don't tell me how to live my life. (Unless you're my mother, then you can totally tell me how to live my life. hashtag HiMom)
It has been a year since my last anxiety attack. I have told two very important people to me about this milestone, and both of them responded with a confused congratulations. Congratulations because that is a big effing feat. And, confused because they didn't even know I have an anxiety disorder.
So, I am here to out myself, I guess. I have had anxiety for a long time, and I have worked really hard in the past several years to be a healthier person. I don't always feel like my best self, but I wake up every day with that as a goal. And, for right now, that is enough.
When I was a child, I was not able to control how I felt about anything. I felt everything, or I felt nothing. I spent hours awake at night telling stories to myself because I couldn't fall asleep. My stories would be about my day usually with some fantastic elements in there--my dragon second grade teacher or my lion best friend. These stories were my emotional processing tools. I needed them because I didn't have the capacity to process things in real time. So, at the end of the day, I had all of these things that happened and all of these emotions, and I didn't know how to feel them both at the same time. This storytelling activity continued for all of my adolescence and most of my young adulthood. It helped me sort out what I was feeling and when I was feeling it. The why was always illusive, though.
As I am learning to process things more immediately, I catch myself being emotional at inappropriate times, and I don't really know what to do with it. I also don't really know how to pull myself together after any change from the norm. But, I am working on it. Baby steps, I suppose.
After I told one person about my anxiety-attack free anniversary, she asked me what would set them off. And, I had never really thought about it truthfully. I wanted to lie to myself because I was/am ashamed of it. In my brain, I had never wanted to own up to my part in whatever was happening. But, this person has a way of calling me on my bullshit, and I didn't want to lie to her.
So, I thought about it. My anxiety manifests itself in feelings of disappointment. Not when others are actually disappointed in me (that is guilt, not anxiety), but when I perceive others' disappointment. Or, it crushes when I think people depend on me for x, y, or z, and I feel like I cannot give hir my full attention. Or, sometimes my anxiety swoops in on the wings of emotional distress, and I stop breathing--scared, sad, and, usually, frustrated.
My road to mental and emotional health have been paved with friends made of gold--women and men who've taught me things like limits, true heroism, and there is always time to dance. I have learned to set realistic goals for myself. I have learned that I can't be everything for everybody. And, I have learned that it is not selfish to say, "No."
I don't really know what I am trying to do with this post. Or, if I am trying to prove anything. I don't want pity. I guess, I want to give a face to some kinds of mental health. That people you know and love are not always what society deems "normal." That word "normal" in and of itself is absurd. I guess, I wanted to be a little more real with myself, to be vulnerable. I wanted to take a moment of sonder: the realisation that everyone is living a life equally as vivid and complex as my own (dictionary of obscure sorrows).
And, that, my friends, is enough.