Feb 13

The Start of a Journey

Two equestrian riders, girls on horseback, in low tide reflections on serene Morro Strand State Beach

Here I sit at my computer, gazing idly out the window at the snowy wonderland before me. I’ve left the house twice in the past three weeks, and while an overwhelming sense of shame lingers dangerously close to my conscious thoughts, I maintain that I’m using this time to get better. After 16 and a half years of schooling, I am taking a full semester off for the first time. To the world at large, I’m just an over-stressed student who needed a bit of time off to relax. But deep down, there’s something much more sinister going on here. I have an anxiety disorder. Saying those words out loud is like admitting to the world that I’m a failure or a self-indulgent deadbeat. How do I explain to someone that I can’t carry on with my normal life because I’m “too anxious”? Everyone gets anxious, right? So why I am so special that I get time off? I know how real the panic attacks feel, how tangible the tremors and heart palpitations are, how disarming the anticipatory worry is – but other people don’t. How could they?

If you’re with me so far, if you’re identifying with anything I’m saying, or if you’re just really goddamn sick of feeling anxious, then I invite you to stick with me as I embark on a journey to recovery. I’ve had anxiety all my life, so I know most of the conventional wisdom, and I’ve learned a lot of the technical details in my undergraduate psychology courses.  Most of all, I know what it’s like to feel helpless, confused, judged, and alone. Luckily for me, I have a solid group of supporters, both friends and family, and I have the luxury of taking time off to deal with this problem head on. But I also know that not everyone is so fortunate.

Like I said, this is a journey, and like every other meaningful journey, it won’t be linear, no one will take the same path, and there will definitely be bumps along the way. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I am convinced that I will get better (I’m already on my way!), and I’m even more convinced that you can get better too. Whether you’re just an edgy person or you’ve completely lost all function in life because of your anxiety, join me in this quest. I know we can do it!

photo by: mikebaird

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