I’m 35 years old and I’m in a second marriage – far better than the first. I’m a huge music enthusiast who also plays guitar and dabbles with music software from time to time. I use my treadmill religiously because I care about my physical health and I’m trying to lose weight. I enjoy travelling, but I’ve never been overseas. I hope someday I get to experience that. I find myself getting into a good book every so often and taking long walks around town or hike when the weather is nice. Video games and Netflix are foolproof distractions for me when I’ve got nothing better to do or just want to set my brain on “OFF” mode for a little while. Magic the Gathering is also a plus.
I work in mental health services as a community support staff and I have been for quite some time now. Gosh, at least seven years. I work with traumatized youth who have dealt with all kinds of crap throughout their childhood. The work, at times, is not easy, but its most certainly rewarding when days with kids are on the upswing. Laraway has been a good fit for me and I’m thankful to be there.
So really, on the surface, that’s who I am. But, honestly that’s just one side of the story. There’s something else that manifests from within me. When pushed just enough or discarded it shows a different side of me. Its ugly and worrisome. Its dark, cold, and unforgiving. This thing can be punishing and has the power to completely debilitate me. I’m afraid of it, but yet I have no choice to face it.
I’m talking about anxiety.
I had experienced a pretty low point in my life recently. I’m a bit of drifter nowadays. I have a home, but not officially. I spend my weeks commuting back and forth between Vermont and Shawinigan, Quebec. I do this because: I still have my job in VT, my wife lives in Canada, I gave up my place in the states, and the immigration process is mostly waiting when all the forms are completed. C’est la vie.
About three or so weeks ago I was at home in Canada. I only work Monday through Wednesday and I’m chez moi the rest of the week. Its nice having four days off. Filling those four days can be tricky for me, but we’ll get to that later. Anyways, my wife and I had made plans to go to Montreal on a Friday night for a birthday of a friend. Two days later was a baby shower for her best friend. I didn’t go to either. I couldn’t. My mind was reeling with worry. I was trapped inside my head. I felt distant. I was quiet a lot. Even though I wasn’t speaking my body language was talking in volumes. My shoulders were hunched over. My head down. Eye contact was particularly hard to make. I had zero motivation to do anything. Nothing was interesting or tickled my fancy. I was isolating myself in my man cave. I was depressed.
My wife saw this and when she asked me what was going on I couldn’t exactly say. I was afraid to open up. When I get nervous or panicked my stutter shines through and it only makes things worse. I responded with “I don’t know’s” while my body desperately sought escape. And honestly, I really didn’t know what was happening to me. I just knew that something was very wrong and it had me tight in its clutches constricting my attempts for relief. I was given the option to just stay home. And I did.
Anxiety sucks. For me its in the form of social anxiety disorder (ironic how the acronym spells SAD). Sprinkle some depression on that and its one hell of a cocktail that’s hard to swallow, let alone stomach. I’m more aware now that I’ve been afflicted with this. I’d be willing to bet that my past experiences and my temperament have created this beast. But then again, is it also just as possible that my current circumstances are to blame as well? I can’t say, really, but I know that I’ve been fighting with myself for many years. I’m getting tired of it. I don’t want to live a life where I’m constantly confronted with anxiety that keeps me from getting out there and enjoying what the world has to offer. I know very well I’ve been guilty more than once of avoiding something positive because I pumped it up to be negative in my mind; because its easier just to ignore your problems than to actually face them, am I right? I used to think so. But, anymore I know that to not be true. It was just me trying to escape… me. I know I have my own baggage. I’ve been damaged like a lot of you. Life has been cruel at times and unrelenting. I get it. Life’s not fair. Never will be. And that’s OK. I’ve accepted that long ago.
But the one thing that I’m just now starting to accept is that my own mental health is at stake. I’m back in therapy again and taking medication. And I feel good about that. I feel more invested and ready to do the work that’s necessary to get better. A friend of mine the other day told me that therapy a lot like a surgery. When you start cutting into the wounds and exposing the truth it hurts. Sometimes the truth is so hard to accept. The medication just makes it easier swallow. But, this is part of the fight! No more running, no more lying to yourself. There’s people out there that care about you: your family, your friends, your doctor, your pets (pets aren’t people, but some of them sure act like it)… I mean come on!
Remember: you’ve got one life to live and you have the power to make it extraordinary.
There’s no shame in being human. Good luck and see you soon.