Making the Choice **TRIGGER WARNING**

Trigger Warning: I talk about my battle with anxiety and depression.

I suffer from a sometimes debilitating disease commonly known as anxiety.  Now, a lot of people will say that anxiety isn’t a disease, that it’s a disorder, but I, personally, don’t like using disorder because it implies, to me, that there is something abnormal about my physical self.  To me, disorder implies that there is something about me that no matter how hard I try, I cannot and will not ever be able to get rid of it.  In a way, it creates a since of hopelessness inside of me that I can’t deal with, so I use disease instead.  Diseases sound more curable than disorder, and the word gives me more hope.  I’ve struggled with severe anxiety my whole life, ever since I was a child.  Over the years, I learned to cope with the anxiety in such a way that it didn’t affect me on my day-to-day life.

It hasn’t been easy.

My body is covered in scars from nights of complete darkness where the depression caused by my anxiety was so severe that I couldn’t feel anything but the emptiness, so I would take it out on my body in an attempt to feel something.  There’s scars from cuts, and scars from burns.  And they’re permanent.  I will take these reminders of my wounded past with me to the grave.  But they also give me hope… Hope that I’ve come a long way from those days where I felt so utterly alone and helpless, and hope that I don’t have to go back there.

All through high school, I was in and out of therapy, on and off of medications.  I finally found a way to be off the medications by actively and repetitively making a choice not to become consumed again.  It’s not easy.  Every day is a struggle that I deal with.  I can’t help but think this is genetic, that somewhere along the road, I pulled a short stick (I mean, everyone has to have one right?).  I grew up in an affluent household with parents that supported through everything I ever did.  They helped me through college and graduate school and supported me until I didn’t need them to support me anymore.  I never took advantage of their gifts, and even got off their “payroll” before they wanted me to (My dad kept asking, “are you sure?”).  They always expected a lot from me, and I felt a lot of pressure from that growing up, but if that caused the anxiety or was cause by the anxiety, I will probably never know.

All I know is that I have this situation that I find myself in, and I have to deal with it.

There were nights when I couldn’t be alone, even into college and to some extent after, where I would need to call a friend to come stay with me.  I’d trained my drunk and screwed up self to preserve by calling a trusted friend to come and take everything away from me.  There were nights where I’d be sitting on the floor in front my couch in the middle of the living room having drank half a bottle of whiskey, tears running down my face, snot pouring out of my nose… Clutching tightly to the bottle in one hand… and the lighter and some sort of metal (usually nail clippers) in my other.  I’d be staring at my escape from the nothing when my body snapped into preservation mode.  I’d call my friend who would come and take everything out of my hands, and I’d usually willingly give it over.

Those days, thankfully, no longer happen.  They haven’t happened in nearly four years because I finally woke up and realized that it was time to fight back.  I did intense reading about anxiety so I could recognize the signs that I was slipping, and then I trained myself to wake up rather than collapse when these feelings started happening.  I’ve gotten to a point in my life now where I manage manageable every day symptoms of anxiety, which presents itself in my every day life as:

  • Constant worrying about small and large things
  • Inability to let go of these worries
  • Inability to relax or constantly feeling wound up or on edge
  • Inability or difficulty concentrating
  • Thinking through everything to the extreme and usually focusing on the negative outcome of these situations
  • Indecisiveness and stress when being forced to decide

It makes me tired, it makes me irritable, it makes me physically hurt.

For the most part, I recognize when I’m doing these things and I stop myself.  There are events, though, usually big (like an adoption, or impending family change) that make for some events where I can no longer control the overflow of anxiety.

I get mean.  I get super edgy.  I get exhausted.  I get emotional.  Usually, I eventually break and have a complete and total melt down of tears and fast talking and blubbering.

When the adoption fell through, Erin and I went and spoke to our therapist. We have a therapist, not because things are in any way bad, but because things are wonderful and you always need the extra reassurance. Before Erin and I started dating, I saw this therapist to help me work through some of my own problems, and she made me promise to bring my next potential relationship in to talk before things go serious. Of course, Erin agreed. We ended up talking about all the things we hated about dating and our pet peeves before they ever became any issue, and since then, we haven’t had any problems. Until the adoption.

When we went to see the therapist, we cried and got angry and let all the emotions we’d been holding onto out. And then I got the best compliment I’d ever gotten: “Kel, you look more grounded now than I have ever seen you.”

That’s because I made a choice to be happy instead of anxious. And because Erin has been my rock to keep me grounded when things get tough.

Those of you out there that read my other blog know that I’ve been over-obsessing about everything going on in my life (and those of you that want to know can e-mail me at Kel.henry85@gmail.com), so I’ve been sadly neglecting this space. I created STF to express my spirituality with others in hopes that I could share the light and love of the Gods with those that read my words so that others could know Them as I do. But when anxiety rears its ugly head, it’s sometimes easy to find yourself disconnected from the Powers.

That’s what’s happened to me the last few days and weeks, but then I heard a service at church that finally, really, honestly hit me in the gut: we all have a choice. We can be miserable or we can be joyful, and who wants to be miserable?

I’m not saying that it’s easy to live in a state of joy. And I’m not saying that I’m back on top all quite yet (Monday is still lingering in my not so distant future other-blog-readers), but I am trying. I’m reminding myself constantly that the Gods are in control and that everything will happen as it should when it is time.

I am so thankful for my fiancé, my family, my friends, and my blogging community who have all given me wonderful advice these last few weeks since the adoption fell through. I’m sorry that it seemed to fall on deaf ears for awhile. At the time, I was making a choice to be miserable.

Now, I’m making a choice not to be.

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Posted on November 8, 2014, in Balance, Faith, Life, Love, Positive, Random Rants, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I can relate to you on so many levels about the anxiety. For a long time (before I had DBT and Exposure therapy), my anxiety was unmanageable and down right awful, and i had been in and out of therapy, medicated and un-medicated since i was 16 years old, and nothing seemed to work, until the day that I told myself for real for reals that I didn’t wanna live like that anymore. And my whole life changed. Good for you for realizing that you needed something to change. I chose joy too…being miserable took a lot more energy!

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