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



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