Have you ever felt trapped in your own existence? Paralyzed by your own intellect? They say when you know better you do better, but what if you don’t? What if you know better and still you stay true to the darkness. Prisoner to the obscurity of your mind.
I have lived nearly 40 years and only in the last year did I take the time to discover my crippling anxieties. The revelation of my own anxiety came to me after a near break-down brought on by my own actions. I spoke of my disbelief towards anxiety for years, told those suffering that I just didn’t get it. Denial? At it’s finest.
Only now am I discovering that anxiety creeps into every facet of my life. Not only in my adult self, but I can recognize its presence existed in my youth. How is it that this quandary eluded my consciousness for so long? Simple. I allowed it. I allowed it to fester and flourish without worry of its inevitable rupture, hurling my realities into oblivion.
In the last year I have seen the murky depths of depression and anxiety. They gripped me and I succumbed to their clutches. I cared not for the love that was offered me, the patience displayed by loved ones. I wallowed and lingered in sadness, despair and fear. Even though I was fully responsible for ending up where was at that point I still couldn’t accept or voice aloud the disappointment I felt in myself. I believe this is what awakened my anxieties and allowed them the fuel to develop into the colossal villain they became.
I couldn’t leave my home, couldn’t breathe without a paper bag to decelerate my breaths. I found myself checking and re checking my bag as I left the house or office. Did I turn everything off? I over-analyzed conversations on the daily. Did I say something wrong? Did I talk too much? Not enough? I broke out in hives, my vision blurred. I was destroying my family one moment at a time. I couldn’t see the selfishness they saw, couldn’t take any form of criticism, couldn’t see any good in the world. All I saw was dark. All I felt was shame, the depths of which knew no end. No end at all.
My antidepressants at this time decided to send me on a roller-coaster thrill ride. They stopped working which thrust me into a premature withdrawal. There was dizziness, loss of appetite, a feeling of numbness, bouts of sobbing that lasted for days, weeks. I was losing will to survive, succumbing to my own demise. My instincts gripped my psyche and instructed to detach. I was no longer capable of reason, I was believing all hope had disappeared. My purpose had been removed from my life.
I looked for God, and to be completely honest, believed Him to have forsaken me. I was completely rejecting the idea that I was responsible for my own free will. Where I was standing at that point in time was a direct result of choices I had made, choices only I was responsible for. God had not forsaken me, He just couldn’t help me until I was ready to help myself.
Without support I wouldn’t be writing this today. I don’t believe I wouldn’t be here, just that I wouldn’t have the secure footing I feel I am attaining now. Anxiety is with me, always has been I now realize and knowing is controlling for me. I am unable of preventing the attacks entirely, but now I can see them for what they are. I am beginning the tedious work of self-acceptance and allowing myself to forgive my past mistakes. Everyday I try to be an improved version of myself and some days, I fail this miserably. Some days I am angry for no apparent reason, some days I succumb to my tears.
We are, all of us, flawed individuals. We have all experienced, to some extent, indiscretions and lapse of good judgement. In this we are all alike. The same and altogether contrasting at the same time. Where one errs, another flourishes and where one is weak, another is stable. Those of us that are broken often recognize that healing must come forth from within.
I’m ascending from the bottom and have only up to travel. I’ve seen the bedrock of my soul and wish to never return. I must make conscious efforts daily to be kind, patient and humble. I own my faults, recognize my deceptions and have sought forgiveness from those I’ve mistreated. I cannot undo my wrongdoings, they are my reminders of a past I left behind. I can only move forward, however slowly and greet my future with a renewed hope of acceptance.
I have taken some time away. Time away from family, my sisters, my realities. I needed to detach in order to find some normal again.
My father left this earth suddenly, completely unexpectedly and tragically two and a half months ago. I am thirty-nine years old, I still feel as though I am far too young to bury my Dad. I haven’t been able to listen to a lot of music, or watch certain shows. I have to turn my mind off at least fifteen times a day to stifle the tears that want to reach my cheeks. I have been angry, confused, bitter, and I have visited denial as often as weekly. I forget. For the most brief of moments, I actually forget that he’s gone. Then, like a punch to the gut, it comes rushing back like a freight train and hits me. Hits me hard. I can’t talk about him without tears yet, I can barely write about him without tears. I watch the dates on the calendar pass knowing that each day is one day further from the last time I spoke to him. One day further from his last breath.
Time is supposed to be healing, not a reminder of distance and pain endured. Right? Wrong. Time doesn’t heal. Time just passes, days become weeks, weeks turn into years. Eventually it will hurt less, the sting will dull and time will once again be a source of help not hindrance.
I want to share funny stories, little things that remind me of happy times and the life he lived as opposed to the life he left. Doing so is far more difficult than I could have ever anticipated. Time. In time I know this will come to me, I am confidant that eventually sharing the life he lived will be an honor to me and not a source of heartache.
I’ve read about the first year following a significant loss being brutal. I have friends and family members that I’ve watched go through the loss of a parent or spouse and I feel just terrible that I didn’t realize the difficulty that each day brought to them. The pain in their heart, the sadness filling their soul.
How tragic is it that only through death are we able to sometimes see the significance one has in our lives? We muddle through each day not responding to a text, not taking a phone call because we’re busy, preoccupied or just not in the mood. Death waits for no one. It gives no warning, no explanation, no reasoning. It takes what it wants, when it wants it and certainly doesn’t care about your busy life, your petty concerns or your moods. Death shows up when you’re least expecting it. It challenges your every fiber, encapsulates your existence and shows you what you have to lose.
Then life, it’s right there. Staring at you, taunting you, showing you that you must be present. Life waits for no one. You must either choose to engage, to show up or to let it slip by and miss all the wonders it has to offer.
I was ready for a moment to allow life to let me go, to let me release from its clutches and allow me to drift to the darkness of my own private misery. My Dad would hate that I feel this way, he would tell me to pick myself up, dust myself off, put my shoulders back, stand tall and get out there and live. My Dad lived. Every moment of his life, he lived. He made his own rule book and devised his own plays. He loved, he hated, he forgave, he engaged. He wouldn’t want to see me allow his death to sculpt my future.
I am now beginning to accept the mistakes I made, even beginning to say them aloud for myself to hear. I can feel myself coming up for air, cresting the surface of my life and deciding to participate. I am making myself a promise to find happiness in something each day, to see the beauty in the world around me, to be present in life.
Because a wise man once told me; today is the first day of the rest of my life.
We as humans struggle. We find the daily monotony of life to be overwhelming and humbling, sometimes in the same moment. We can forget to be kind, forget to take time for the ones we love, even forgetting to care for ourselves. We all too often neglect our own thoughts while rushing from here to there.
Some mornings I awaken with a renewed view on the world. On the life I lead. I look out the window at the cold, snowy morning and notice the glint of fresh snow on the trees, the fog lifting from the valley floor as to welcome the dawn. I may notice the mist rising from the river and the birds taking flight.
Other mornings I forget. I forget to notice, to awaken my senses and acknowledge the beauty surrounding me. There are mornings when I wake and forget to take that time. I rush through, I neglect to pace myself and appreciate this life and the beauty surrounding me. I will snap at my son for using all the hot water, roll my eyes at my husband for being in my way and wish to just be left alone.
If not for my moments of frustration and weakness would I recognize the moments of bliss? I believe not. I believe we all have the same moments, perhaps demonstrated differently, but still nonetheless, the same.
I am a work in progress. I am a sinful, wretched human. I try each day to remember to be kind, offer a smile to a stranger and to greet the world with peace. I fail daily. Some days my failures outweigh my successes and other days I feel as though I have conquered all.
The one fact that remains on a daily basis is that I am blessed to be given the opportunity to try again. To dust myself off, forgive myself of my indiscretions and move forward. I choose to remind myself that I have goals. I have ambitions yet to attain. I am not the person I want to be, but I’m not the person I once was either. I have made progresses and at times I have regressed. Still, I continue.
So today as I look out across the vast, snow-covered pastures and see the sun shimmering it’s light over the crowns of the Green Mountains I call home, I will remind myself to take it in. Find a moment to be grateful and remember that I have a purpose on this earth and an opportunity to make this day anything I choose.
The last year of my life has been full of obstacles. I lost my job, I lost my will and I lost my dad. Today, I begin the first day of the rest of my life.
I fell on my face, and caused the fall. I then stayed down for the next nine months. In the time it takes one to bring a life into the world, I was self destructive and turning inward. My loved ones reached out to me and I turned away time after time. I became so anxiety ridden that I rarely left home, and when I did, it was brief and traumatic. I didn’t take calls I should have, and I didn’t always return the love and support I was given.
On November 7, 2016 while I was taking a shower, I suddenly couldn’t catch or keep my breath. I was a pack+ a day smoker and it had finally taken its toll after 27 years of smoking (I’m 39 today). My husband rushed home upon my 911 text and took me to the local ER where I was given steroids, breathing treatments and an inhaler. That day, I gave up the cigarettes and it was a turning point in my life.
At this time I was also weaning myself off of a powerful and dangerous (in my opinion) anti-depressant (Paxil). This drug’s withdrawals are not for the faint of heart. I experienced hallucinations, night sweats, extreme dizziness and crying spells that lasted for weeks. Then came the anger and rage. That was a two-week period that I still harbor guilt over the ways in which I treated my family. My doctor had me coming off Paxil at a rate that was too much, too fast for my system and I ended up going on Prozac to bridge the gap between Paxil and Paxil-free.
The week of Christmas I had finally started to feel semi-normal. The dizziness and severe emotional side effects had lessened and I was making headway. Christmas came and went and the next couple of days were so simple and ordinary.
December 28, 2016 at 3:18 p.m. my brother called. I knew it was the wrong time of day for him to be calling me, but I answered with a cheerful and upbeat greeting. I knew in an instant that something was horribly wrong, as he asked if I was alone. My kids (15 & 19) were home with me, my husband was not. He then proceeded to explain he had bad news. I knew it was Dad. I “knew” his heart had either given out or he was back in the hospital (he had a successful by-pass in August). It was neither.
My Dad died that day. 9/10 of a mile from his home on a dirt road in the middle of the SE Arizona desert. He came to an intersection and there it happened. A collision of terror. He lost his life the moment he collided with the other vehicle. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, he was going far too fast. It was 9:30 in the morning. He was clear-headed and not in a hurry, he was on his way to pick up his hearing aid. A very ordinary day. He kissed and hugged his wife goodbye and never ever returned.
What does it mean to lose a parent?
It’s losing a connection to ones roots. Losing a piece of yourself. Losing an unconditional love that you never imagined could be lost. I have 3 siblings and although we are all going through the same loss, we are each feeling this loss in completely different and separate ways. To each of us our father was a different person. He knew how to love each of us individually and independently. Never before had we realized the importance of this. Never had we given him the credit for filling our hearts with his love. Losing my father, my Dad, was a pivotal moment in my life. Forevermore I will see my life in two parts, before dad passed, and after.
Today I learn to begin again. Just as my Dad always taught me to.