I have anxiety. Not right at this moment, but it’s something that sometimes sneaks up on me and tosses a plastic bag over my head and holds it tight until I can’t breathe. I hate these moments. I feel weak and I hate that I let my guard down and let them sneak in.
It can be the littlest of things that trigger it. A comment made two minutes ago or five years ago. Some stupid decision made that completely turned the course of your life in a difficult direction. Your child growing up, getting their license, DRIVING, graduating, leaving home, and having babies. Health issues, work stress, aging parents, child care, anger, jealousy, bills, too much sleep, lack of sleep, and five hundred million other things that can send someone over the deep end and drowning and paralyzed in the cold sea of anxiety.
When it hits anxiety cripples me. I get angry, mostly at myself. I get anti-social (or even more anti-social). It takes me ten times longer to do pretty much anything. It makes me indecisive and I over think everything even more than I do on any typical day. When it first really started years ago I didn’t recognize it for what it was or know how to deal with it and it just built up in me until one day I couldn’t move anymore. It was what they called “high functioning anxiety disorder”. People had no idea. I didn’t talk about it with anyone really. I was just treading water in that deep sea until my legs stopped kicking one day.
Through this process I’ve met and talked to SO MANY people that have felt this way at one point or another in their lives. We don’t know what’s going on in someone’s mind until they choose to share it with us. We don’t know what battles they are fighting behind those dark curtains. We have no idea how they are managing to keep their feet paddling and treading water. We have no idea what is going to happen when they stop kicking.
This week a story blew up my newsfeeds that hit a little close to home. A man in a warehouse pulled a knife on co-workers and stabbed two people before being tasered by police and subdued. This was a dock that I had walked many times. I had interacted with the people working there often. I stopped to talk to them and ask them questions about work or to just get to know them. This story and this place penetrated into my little bubble of a world. Had I met this man and just didn’t remember? What was his story? Why?
No one knows what caused this man to snap and cause bodily harm to others. Was he caring for an ailing parent or spouse or child at home? Was he and his family facing eviction because they couldn’t pay their bills? Was he struggling with something he’d done or had been done to him? The ending of a relationship? We don’t know. He was done kicking and this was where he found himself. There wasn’t anyone there to give him the hand he needed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying society failed him by not trying to help or be compassionate toward him. All of those things could have occurred, but whatever he needed at that moment, when he stopped treading water and started to sink, he couldn’t find and he snapped. The moment I stopped kicking there was someone there for me. He was kind and compassionate and he tried. In the moment I didn’t know what I needed, I just knew that where I was, wasn’t it. I found my way out and above the water, but every once in a while it tries to sneak back in and one of those triggers get pulled.
Last week my grandson had surgery. It was a planned procedure to begin a correction on a birth defect. I put in a lot of hours at work to get all of my stuff done in four days instead of the five I usually have and I took Friday off to be there. The week leading up to it was rougher than being there that day. I didn’t sleep well. Thoughts of things that could happen to this beautiful, happy, tiny little boy tried to consume my mind like a rabid wolf. I felt that every minute of that week was spent pushing them away. When my own kids first started driving and I would see an ambulance or fire truck headed in a direction I knew my kids were in, panic would set in. That same feeling kept pummeling me twenty four hours a day for a week. And I couldn’t let it show because I didn’t want to freak my daughter out and cause her to worry any more than she might already be. I didn’t want to allow those negative thoughts to jinx anything or let on that this is how my brain works! The day came, baby boy was a trooper, his parents amazing, and the surgery went well. All of my anxiety for naught.
Did anyone know that’s how I felt last week? Nope, because I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it to myself and trudged through my days suffocating on the thoughts. Either because I didn’t want to bother anyone or I felt stupid……I should have. Now that it’s all done with and passed I can easily see this, but when you’re in the middle of it you are blind to it. The water is dark and cold and all you can handle is getting past the next hour. Other than that BIG, DARK THING you are dreading you can’t see past it to the light, to the good stuff. I should have talked to someone. I should have written about it. Just getting it out there, somehow, would have helped. I wasn’t anywhere near snapping to the degree of my co-worker, however letting these things overwhelm us and build up can eventually get a person to a place they don’t want to be and don’t know how to escape.
My advice to you today and to myself in the future: TALK TO SOMEONE!
There are always people out there that care, whether you know them or not. There are kind and compassionate people in this world that will listen and sometimes that’s all you need. You don’t always need answers, you just need an ear.
Just keep kicking ❤