Sunday, July 19, 2015

Owning Up -- #semicolonEDU

CR 2015
On the surface you appear to see moments of contentment
For the past ten days my husband and I have been away on vacation in beautiful Costa Rica. We had many adventures like zip lining and repelling down waterfalls, but we also took time to relax by the pool, in hot springs, or in the hammock on our hotel room balcony.

The trip was fantastic, and if you follow me on one or more of my social media spaces, you likely saw me smiling and content. What you didn't see was what was the storm roiling beneath the surface.

The day before we left for our trip I had a panic attack. And a few days before that I had one, too. And a few weeks before that.

They seem to be coming more frequently these days. And it wasn't until recently that I realized that I actually am struggling with anxiety.

For the longest time I thought I was just an overly-emotional, irrational person. I had no idea that what I had actually had a name. Inspired by my brave friends who have shared their own struggles with anxiety and depression, like Nick Provenzano who helped spur the #semicolonEDU conversation, I have decided it's time to share mine.

As I said before, it wasn't until recently that I even realized that I battle with anxiety, but now that I am aware of it, I aim to seek help for it. I am starting to see the correlation between the digestive ailments I've had for so many years and the worsening of my anxiety.

So for those of you out there like me who might not know that your battle is something you can seek help for, here are some of the little ways anxiety manifests in my daily life:

  • Feeling tense when strangers walk behind me or beside me on the street
  • Stuttering/stumbling over my words or talking really fast
  • Not talking at all -- needing to be quiet even when people ask me questions
  • Nit-pickiness
  • Hypersensitivity to noise and crowds of people
  • The need to get somewhere RIGHT NOW for fear of ________ <-- Insert illogical thought here
  • Feeling the need to get home after eating out of fear my digestive system wreaks havoc on me in a public place

CR 2015
Working on owning up to those other, less flattering emotions

Now that I am aware of this, I am beginning to make peace with it. Not only that, but learning more about my anxiety is helping me to better explain my needs to my husband, who by some miracle, has stuck beside me despite not understanding my feelings (How could he? I didn't even understand my feelings!) But just the thought of putting these words out into the world is making me anxious. However, if it weren't for others sharing their stories, I would never have realized that I, too, have one to share with the world and thus I feel I have a duty to be open and honest, not only with myself, but with others. I have to remember that my One Little Word for 2015 is Brave, so here's me being brave. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It's just a part of who I am and now that I've named it, I can begin to start to manage it. So in the words of Joe Mazza, another leader in the #semicolonEDU conversation, "Let's stop faking it." So here's me. Keeping it real.