Sunday, September 9, 2018

Time turns flames to embers, you'll have new Septembers

For the past five years, my family has faced a rough September/October. It was five years ago, in September, that my dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was four years ago, in September, that my dad suffered his steroid psychosis and spent 6 weeks in the hospital. The two Septembers to follow? Complications that led to hospitalization. One of those included a brain surgery. Last September, he was hospitalized just before my wedding for shortness of breath/fluid on the lungs. He was there right up until my rehearsal dinner. It was only a week or so after my wedding that he went back into the hospital, and things began to go downhill.

Two really magical things have happened in September too, of course. One was that Tom and I became "official". That was right before my dad was diagnosed, so Tom has quite literally been there every step of the way. I also married him in September, and it was the absolute best day of my entire life, and he is the most amazing thing to ever happen to me.

So now it's September again. And she's brought her bad luck with her.

Tom lost his job, which has been heartbreaking and scary for both of us, as I wrote in my last blog. I know we will be okay, I know we will come out stronger, but that doesn't take away that this is a difficult situation.

Coupled with that, I have been suffering deep anxiety. I am experiencing difficult physical and emotional symptoms, ones that I would not wish upon anyone. I hesitate to share this kind of thing. I think that anxiety is something that is complicated, and difficult to understand. It's not just about being nervous or worried. I often feel deeply misunderstood with my anxiety, or that because I don't always seem like I am suffering to the outside world, it can't be that bad. Take it from me, it is that bad. Another reason I hesitate to share is that I do not want to be treated differently, or to be judged, for my anxiety. Even though I am struggling, I am still able to do my job, get myself to the gym, do the grocery shopping, and all the other tasks I need to do to get through. They just become 100x more difficult when I am feeling this way.

I push past the hesitation and open up because, well, we've spent way too much time shying away from being open about mental health. We still treat it like a secret, or something to be ashamed of. We're afraid to ask people how they are really doing. We're afraid to tell people how we're really feeling. So we just keep it in, which is only adding to the problems. We need to be more open. We need to understand that we are not alone, we need to understand that people in our lives need us as much as we need them. We need to be there for each other, to listen, and to take action when you know someone is suffering.

I go through these periods where the anxiety rattles me and keeps me captive. It happens. I usually know how to move past it. I have full confidence I will once again move past this, adding an extra layer of strength to my skin, ready to fight the next battle that comes. But just because I know all of those things, does not mean it goes away in an instant.

I know my anxiety is coming from Tom's job loss, combined with the past trauma's that September has brought creeping up behind me, trying to blind my view. It is like I am waiting for the next horrible thing to happen, so I turn nearly everything that happens into a worst case scenario.

When I get like this, here are the reminders that I tell myself, over and over, until I start to believe them:

It will be okay.
It's not as bad as you think it is. Your anxiety is playing tricks on you.
There is a logical explanation.
You have people that love you and support you.
You will get through this.
You are strong.

September may continue to deliver bad news, or maybe we'll get a break next year.  Anxiety, though, does not halt. It may slow down, or stay quiet for a while. But it will come back. And knowing that I have done this before is one of the key points to helping me to know that I can do it again. My anxiety is not a burden. It is not a weakness. It is part of who I am and it's made me stronger.

So there, September.
Image result for anxiety morgan harper nichols

No comments: