March 5, 2012

{this post was inspired by my own story and also Maggie May’s post Anxiety: A Plague, Years of Wonder. Her words help me more fully understand myself and for that I am always grateful.}

It feels ridiculous sometimes. I am a grown woman and my husband is holding my hand and taking me to the doctor, carefully. I sit there, child’s pose and Dr. M. says my face looks brighter, better than the first time. Yes, I’m feeling a little more like I can see myself. She increases the dosage of medication that will hopefully round off the corners of some of this anxiety and depression. She says the medicine will at first make the symptoms worse and then better. I hate that I need a medication that is so confused about itself.

She was right. I can’t sleep because of the all the drunk monkeys in my head, pounding around, my eyes flying open at the worst kinds of thoughts. Surely a fire or a tornado or kidnapping or molestation will come. First the medication knocks me out like I’ve been on a bender and passed out and then I’m all flinching and turning and thinking after the initial short hard sleep. Just like when I used to try to drink away my anxiety.

For over two years, sober, I’ve been seeing myself more clearly and looking back over a life of feeling intensely and riggling in my seat and biting my nails like I could gnaw away the nerves attached to all my insides because they’re on fire. I started to feel better, to accept things as they come, or something. To try to live in the day and take one day at a time and all of these simple powerful truths. Then came the procedure that if I had researched I would have known could exacerbate anxiety and depression. Screw up the hormones. Set me back a million miles.  And so here I am.

This is life. The astounding thing is that I am living it instead of avoiding it like I did for so many years with alcohol in hand to feel less. I am walking in its messy wake because we all do and maybe I’m someone who is caving in but along with that comes the realization that I don’t want to be any other way. I mean, of course I want to stop feeling like I might explode and I want the terrifying thoughts to stop, but my anxiety is wrapped around and in and through the way my heart beats for life and the people I love. The hardest part is the trying to allow it to do that instead of allowing it to force me inside my shell. To not let myself avoid the inevitable pain of feeling so intensely for so many people, from shielding my eyes from the bright light of living and seeing all the details of everything. To not refrain from taking it all in, every little thing, from everything that is felt by the people around me to all the colors and sounds and smells of all things. That’s the way it is just in the every day, all day and it is a gift in reverse.

It is all very beautiful and very heavy.

We are all walking through waiting for the other shoe to drop. We remember getting “the call” in the middle of the night and we remember 9/11 and we remember the horrific news stories and we see the damage of catastrophe. It is all very real. Some of us are just more ready for It than others and I am ready and it is very uncomfortable, waiting for death.

That is the bigger picture always on my mind, somewhere and sometimes it’s more in the forefront of my mind and sometimes not. The bigger picture is that there is an End to all things here and my shoulders tighten and my stomach goes to knots just at the thought of it even if I do have faith in a loving God. How can you? People ask. And I don’t know what to say other than that I have seen Him at every End perhaps because my anxiety sees so intensely. It says, Look, there He is.

I cannot put up walls to numb the truth of life’s pain. I tried for a long time and all it did was stunt my growth toward peace.  So now I am set back and sometimes curled on my side, needing my husband to come home from work or my mom to come over and make the food and run the bath for my children. Then I feel ridiculous and want to say I’m just fine, I’ll be fine, I’ve always been FINE. But I’m not. Not right now and I will shout at my pride, tell it to hunker down and stay still. I will wait for the waves of crippling anxiety to pass and I will hug my husband and tell him I’m on the road to getting better, to having the road replaced to the soles of my feet, because I am.  Not the road around that goes back to the start, but the road through. Through and closer to peace. For me, it works that way, in reverse. Pain and then more peace even if there’s always some kind of peace all the while but not enough because oh how frail I am, a soul gifted with a heavy weight.

I may feel set back, taken literally in reverse and made less mature and wise, struggling for right thinking and acceptance and surrender. But I am never back in time because reverse is always forward, that’s what you know when you can see all the bigger pictures.


“Well. We all have to work with what we got.” – Maggie May




Amber March 5, 2012 at 11:08 am

Yes to this whole post. It can be so darn frustrating when you finally get on top of mental illness only to have something come along and screw it all up.

While I haven’t had the surgery you had, I can relate on different levels. (I don’t want to minimize what you are going through so that’s all I’ll say.) Yet, like you’ve pointed it, going in reverse isn’t really reverse, it’s moving forward in a different direction.
Amber recently posted..A Review of Looking Up

kendal March 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

i’ve been on my meds for years, and i’ve had the same doctor visits and thoughts and and and…. i’m slowly coming off the meds now. and it’s scary. but i want, really want, to try life without that help.
kendal recently posted..curing the out-of-sorts

Shannon from mynewfavoriteday March 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I just want to say I am thinking of you Heather. I wish you much strength as you continue on your road. This post was so powerful and I love your line, “but my anxiety is wrapped around and in and through the way my heart beats for life and the people I love. ”

It’s so beautiful and heart wrenching. It is an anchor this love, I know that love that carries you in it’s arms when you can’t walk. Keep loving and writing to share and let this be an outlet for you so in addition to the support you get from your family, we can all support you too. Hugs.

Emily March 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Thank you for your honest writing. I am new to your blog (just read from it for the first time about two weeks ago) and your posts really touch my heart. You are awesome. I get excited when I see that you put up a new post. Thank you for what you’re doing.

shayla March 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm

thank you for writing this. i swear that every time i come back here i feel a little less lost in the world. from the feeling like i’m so often moving in reverse to the part about feeling intenseley and riggling in your seat, i feel like i know exactly what you mean. ahh, none of us are alone. realizing that is half the battle.
shayla recently posted..march is #gsd month.

Ann March 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I love you and have faith in your strong and your weak. Your weak is held up by so much strong–your own and all of those who love you. Your weak makes you stronger because it’s the soft point that allows you to bend–like a joint an ankle or an elbow–so fragile but necessary to move forward right?

Ann recently posted..The Shrinking Half-life of Praise

Leslie March 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Heather, I relate to so many of your posts, and this is no exception. “I cannot put up walls to numb the truth of life’s pain. I tried for a long time and all it did was stunt my growth toward peace.” Yes. This. I’ve been sober for a while, and now I’m just starting to face my issues with food….I know there will be pain, but it’s necessary pain, and yes, moving in reverse or feeling that way.
Thank you so much for sharing this.

The Mommy Psychologist March 6, 2012 at 1:29 am

Just keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. And whatever you do, don’t drink or get high. It sounds so simple, but sometimes simple is all we can do.
The Mommy Psychologist recently posted..Redshirting in Kindergarten

Galit Breen March 6, 2012 at 7:25 am

Reverse is always forward, big pictures are a haven, inch by inch.

So much love to you.
Galit Breen recently posted..Well Practiced Love

Grace March 7, 2012 at 10:34 am

This will probably sound creepy, but I wish we could be friends. Go out to coffee, admire our babies and comisserate the struggle we’ve had to get here. Xo

Heather March 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Not creepy. It sounds good. I could use a good coffee date with a like-minded and hearted friend I have yet to meet :)

Maggie May March 8, 2012 at 12:34 am

What an awesome thing, to come here and find that something I wrote inspired such an awesome essay from you. I love, love reading about other women’s struggles with fear or anxiety, and how they feel about it, handle it, find it over the years. Thank you for writing this.
Maggie May recently posted..Something Is Different At Flux Capacitor

Jennifer March 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Your words are so full of raw emotion. I have also felt the paralyzing grip of anxiety and I know what it is like for medication to make you feel much worse before you benefit from it. Please, please, please hold on. Put your trust in your doctor, this is all we can do sometimes.

I also tend to think about “the end” of our lives here, fairly often. It makes me want to be a better person, in every aspect of my life, because life is too short, ya know?

Right now I’m reading Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years which is about editing your life to create a better life for yourself using the tools storytellers use to tell great stories. It’s common sense, in a way, but so fascinating. Have you read it?

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I truly appreciate what you are going through and your unselfish mission to help others who are experiencing what you are. Your writing is beautiful and I am sure it is therapeutic. Keep your chin up. Sending big hugs from a new follower.
Jennifer recently posted..Psych ward socks

Heather March 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi Jennifer! So nice to meet you.
I have read A Million Miles… LOVE that book, and Blue Like Jazz, too. So much. I’m a big Don fan :)

Thank you for your encouragement, lady. I appreciate it more than I can say.

Rhonda March 13, 2012 at 6:49 am

Dear Heather, thank you for this. Reverse IS often forwards, or it can be when we do the work to make it so, but it so often doesn’t feel that way, does it? I’m starting to realize the wisdom of this – accepting my messiness, not blaming myself for feelings or stuff I can’t change, and have no control over, and moving one step at a time to a new place inside me somewhere- trusting myself for the first time. It’s been so strange to see that the things I tried to escape for so long could be the very things that make me more whole. Following that road through the pain to a new place. There have been some posts by you that reverberate in my head when I’m working on all this, and thank you for seeing it too, and saying it.

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