Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Brighter Place Than This

  I've struggled with anxiety for a long time. We're close, you know, like cousins who don't really like eachother but whose parents keep throwing us together 'cause it's cute. She tries to bully me, I stare at her incredulously, and then she shoves me to the ground. Brutal. The anxiety comes in phases. For a few months things go pretty swimmingly, then wham-bam, I'm down on the ground and don't even know what hit me. It always seems so random. Maybe it's influenced by the changing of the seasons, by the availability of the sunlight. Maybe it's triggered by something in particular and then spirals out of control. Whatever the reason, alternating bouts of anxiety and depression return to life, trying to control my days and infect my mind.

  Right now, I'm in the bad times. In this place, anything can fill me with panic and cause the beat of my heart to reverberate powerfully, smothering, through my chest. Here, I am tempted to let a familiar wave of  feelings wash over me and drag me to its depths. When I experience those emotions, they are like a song that drops me into the past, into times that would be better off forgotten, and the memory and terror of that place gives them new strength to carry on.

  What I'm used to doing is floating happily through the good times, not really thinking too hard about how I came to them, and then being swept away by the bad ones. But as time has passed, I've been able to experience and observe the cycles of this struggle, and I know I need a change. What I need, and can feel burning inside me, is a true desire to no longer be ruled by anxiety. With that, I have intent, and intent can set me on a path to overcome this unruly beast that tells me my life is just a bleak land of many horrors.

  One thing I'm realizing is that when I think about overcoming anxiety, I think a lot about what I don't want. But focusing on what I want to be free of gives me no power. Rather, it gives all my power away and makes it easier for that very thing to keep me in its grasp. This really struck me when I began to imagine the woman I want to be. Let me tell you, she is amazing. Full of peace and passion and joy. But she's not defined by a lack of anxiety, but by the presence of her amazing spirit. When I change my focus to what I do want instead of what I don't, I'm completely free to chase after it.

  Sometimes, the idea of dealing with all this feels overwhelming. The beauty of it, though, is that I don't have to plan for everything right now. If I can just be present in this moment, right now, I can choose to experience the peace and joy I long for. Then every moment is just another step on this amazing journey.

I'd been considering writing about my anxiety for a while. I figured I would at some point. But "God," I'd tell myself, "It's so dang personal." And it is. But is it not to shame writing if a writer is not willing to write what is personal? So if you're a fellow anxiety-sufferer, or the sufferer of any other emotional beast, I can assure you that I'll be back to this topic in the future. We'll explore how we can have the life we've always wanted, despite our greatest obstacles. I believe the first step is empowerment, and then anything is possible! 

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