the last resort~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In my early 20's, I worked at a very stressful job. One day out of the blue, I was at work, and I thought I was having a heart attack. I went into the urgent care clinic. I was told it was anxiety, and they sent me on my merry way with a little pamphlet about it. I didn't have a recurrence, in part, I believe, because I quit that job a few weeks later.
After a little thinking, and not much research (pamphlet reading), I formed a pretty strong opinion about people who suffer from anxiety. I decided that people with anxiety just need to get over themselves. Go to therapy. Go do some yoga. Go meditate. Take a chill pill. Do something, and it will go away. Sit there and do nothing, and it won't. Therefore, if you have anxiety for any extended period of time, you are a slacker. I pretty much decided that I will have compassion for you in the early stages of your stress and anxiety, but by god, don't ramble on and on to me about your anxiety 2 years later....because, hellooooo...you should be over it by now. I can tell you that I even ended a friendship with someone who had anxiety, because...well...I just don't like to surround myself with people who can't process their shit.
I held this belief system from my early 20's up until a few years ago (I did a lot of stupid things in my 20's, and I spent most of my 30's being a little cocky).
Well, here I am today.
40 and anxious.
After the car accident, well okay -- after coming down off the oodles of pain meds -- I started having flashbacks about the moments right after impact (when I was stuck in the car for 2 hours). Post traumatic stress, and anxiety.
Whee! Yay me! I have labels.
Of course, I tried therapy and yoga and meditation and chill pills and a few other things. And you know what?? I have anxiety managed. I have it managed quite well, actually.
But 4 years later?? Hellooooo....it is only managed. I still have it.
My anxiety crops up at the oddest of times. It happens less frequently, but there still is no rhyme or reason to what triggers it. I swear, it is in my body in some way, like some sort of version of muscle memory, but on a more cellular level. I can usually feel coming on, when it is in it's very early stages, and if I catch it, I know what I need to do for myself to nip it in the bud so it doesn't escalate. I also know what to do if it does escalate. And I also know how long I am alright just allowing myself to sit with anxiety, as I sometimes do in attempt to not avoid my feelings. But I have learned the hard way, that if I sit for too long (after about 5 days), my anxiety will spiral into something that looks more like depression.
For a long time, the medical community wanted to treat my depression, but not my anxiety. I have always refused. In fact, here's a funny story: when I was in the hospital recovering from the accident, one day they tried adding anti-anxiety meds to my little tray of other pills, without consulting me. When I asked why, the doctor told me that it was presumed I would become depressed (being an amputee is so awfully depressing, apparently) and they were just trying to head it off at the pass. WTF???!!!!!!! I refused to take it.
Anyhow, point is....if I ever sink into a brief little pit, which I do from time to time, for ME, that means I need to deal with my anxiety. For ME, my depression is a SYMPTOM of my anxiety. Or maybe it's just a bad hair day.
The most difficult part of dealing with my anxiety has been undoing all of my judgments about it, and also about the people who have it. It has been most difficult, because I am now one of them. I had to undo judgments of MYSELF. I hated myself for a good long while, and I even went a few rounds of beating myself up for not being able to "get over it", and it only made me more anxious.
As I sit here today, I can report that I am accepting of the fact that anxiety lives in me, and I have tools so I can live with it.
This is not the only thing in my life that I have judged people about that has eventually come my way. It's an interesting karmic thing, I think. It seems like if I've ever looked down on a person for some reason, chances are, I will become afflicted with that very thing.
Sometimes I think this is my path in this life.
To walk a mile in someone else's shoes.
Maybe because I only have one shoe I have to do it for longer.