I don’t know how to write this post. I want to make it perfect. (HA! Even that is so telling of what I’ve been struggling with.) There is so much I could say and no way to say it all. I want to be able to explain with just the right words and to be able to make myself understood. I want to be able to bring light to a situation that is too often misunderstood or a lot of the time hidden or seen as something to be ashamed of.
I feel like each of us can use our voice to speak out and bring light to the situations that we go through in life and in doing so, we can affect our world……..we can change our world for better.
Too often the subject of Mental Health is hidden or seen as a bad thing or something to be ashamed of. The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that 1 in 5 Canadians will deal with Mental Health Issues at some point in their lives. 1 in 5 is pretty significant, I think; compare that to Diabetes which currently affects about 1 in 10 Canadians……it makes me sad that people feel the need to be ashamed of or to keep it a secret that they are or might be struggling with Mental Health Issues.
Almost 2 weeks ago I was looking into Anxiety Disorders because someone I know and love seems to be struggling with Anxiety. What I read shocked me…..
I HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER.
I have had an anxiety disorder for my entire life, at least as far back as I can remember……and I had NO CLUE! I’ve had overwhelming fear and worry and anxiety and because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like this, I thought “this” was normal. I thought that everyone felt like I did and if they didn’t worry or stress as much as me it’s only because they didn’t care as much. I feel like the more I worry or stress or over-analyze things, the less opportunity there is for things to go wrong….if I think through every option or worse case scenario, then I will be more prepared if something were to go wrong. If I think through every negative thought someone will or might have about me, then I can be better or more perfect or less likely to offend someone and maybe just maybe they will like me…..it’s a completely irrational fear or worry of future events. It’s like I’m borrowing fear from tomorrow and stressing about it as if it’s already happened today……totally messes with you mentally, emotionally and physically.
Of the different types of Anxiety…
….I’ve probably experienced varying levels of each one at different times in my life.
The biggest one that I struggle with is the Social Anxiety Disorder….if you clicked on that link and read through the page…..that’s me. I have struggled with…… “an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and of doing things that will embarrass them (me). They(I) can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.”
I’ve always said that I’ve struggled with insecurities. It felt overwhelming and huge in my life and I’ve fought my entire life to “try to overcome them”. I couldn’t understand how I could actually like myself and think that I was a beautiful person both inside and out and yet be so hard or down on myself.
While reading and researching, I came across a site that explained anxiety as an outside force affecting you on the inside (and if I could find the site to link to it, I totally would, it was a great article) and it hit me so hard….. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that I feel like I’m fighting myself. I’m fighting to be normal. I’m fighting to keep it all together. I’m fighting to stay in control…..and honestly, after the past 2.5 years…..I’m too tired to fight anymore.
For the past 6 months, I’ve felt like I was losing the battle and yet…..between cancer and the lingering after effects, two teenagers, 3 children with ADHD, 2 with massive sensory issues, 1 with Anxiety Issues, homeschooling, a toddler and just trying to keep the house from falling apart and keeping food on the table….there was no opportunity to fall apart or to give up.
My Doctor keeps telling me that yes I could have just “given up or gone back to bed”, that people do it all the time and that I should be proud of myself for the fact that I’ve kept on going…..I can’t even fathom that was an option. There’s a baby to look after and the 2 boys would have destroyed the house….or each other and some one would have gotten hurt……or something…..
I get anxious just thinking about the boys unsupervised…..
I sat in the Doctors office last Thursday crying because it’s been really difficult to “be me”. I’ve been fighting myself for so long……actually, I guess it would be more appropriate to say that I’ve been fighting the anxiety for so long and I have very little, if any, reserves left. I’m starting to recognize when it’s the anxiety speaking….I’m still working on dealing with the physical feelings from the anxiety but recognizing when it’s the “anxiety” is a start and has already helped some…
There are two main approaches to dealing with and treating anxiety……therapy and medication. I’ve decided to go with both. I started an anti-anxiety medication last week and also went to talk with my counselor.
I’ve been on an absolute emotional roller coaster ride for the past almost 2 weeks. I’ve been grieving lost opportunities and lost time that was stolen from me by this thing called “anxiety” and yet I’m so excited for what my future holds. I’m so excited that I don’t have to live under the crushing pressure of anxiety for the rest of my life. I’m excited to start feeling better. I’m excited for new possibilities and opportunities. I’m saddened that it seems that I’ve contributed to my son’s anxiety. I believe that based on the number of people in my family who deal with or who have dealt with anxiety, that there is a big genetic component to this. At the same time, I’m so excited to be able to understand better what he deals with and to be able to help him better be able to learn about this disorder and how to deal with it.
I came across the image/quote at the top of this post about a month ago and it hit me so hard. I’ve been frustrated for a while because I’ve had people telling me that I needed to let things go….that I was carrying too heavy of a load. I already do almost nothing “extra”. I’m just trying to function within the “crazy” that is my life and family. It’s a lot. I recognize that. But really, there are no extra’s to cut back on. Last week, this image came back to me in an “Ah Ha!” moment.
It’s time to let go of the anxiety. It’s too heavy to carry. I’ve been overwhelmed for far too long and while I’m not sure exactly how to “do this”, I’m working with some amazing people who are coming along side of me to help me “carry this” until I can fully let go.
But even just recognizing that I have something to let go of……recognizing that I don’t have to be crushed by this forever, is HUGE!