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Life in my head

by T
(British Columbia)

I am a successful, person, with a good job, great family. I’m a Mom, a sister, daughter, friend and I try to be a good person in my community. I don’t think I’m “weird”, or unlike-able, in fact, I am funny, athletic, artistic and I can be strong.

Aside from all that, I also struggle everyday. I didn’t realize how abnormal my brain was until I really started regular counselling in the last couple of years. I have always “worried”, felt feelings of guilt, but it’s never been defined. My brain is constantly on high alert, and sometimes the things I worry about take over my entire being. I am unable to break my focus on certain things some days. I struggle with anxiety.

It’s like hearing a radio broadcast in your head, saying the same things over and over again, on a long loop. If there is a moment I am not worried, I then worry that my “guard is down” and something bad will happen. It is a struggle most days, however I am trying to think of things not so much as struggles, but as little victories. I don’t stay locked up in my house with my anxiety, I go out, I experience life with my kids, for them, me, and us all as a family. I am proud of myself for that. It’s hard but I do it.

I have friends, we have fun, I do laugh at times and for the most part, I do try to enjoy life, and I am working on shooing out the negative dark thoughts.

Defining my issues as anxiety, has really helped me a lot. In a way, it’s taken some of the guilt and self defeating words and name calling out of my vocabulary - with help from my psychologist. I am trying to be kinder to myself, which I realized I was lacking for SO many years.

It is so hard to explain to people how I feel, and why I can’t just “get over it”, I’m not even sure my close friends know exactly how hard it is for me at times. I could only imagine living with someone like me would be incredibly difficult, I am not sure if I could handle it. However, for me, it’s simply a part of me. I have learned to hide it in professional environments; I have taught myself how to look calm on the outside, while inside I feel as if I am a medusa-like creature screaming at the top of my lungs. At a new job, a co-worker once said to me “wow, you’re so cool and collected”, little did she know it was an act! But it’s working for me, and knowing I can remain cool on the outside when I need to, makes me feel more in control. It’s at home, or in the car or by myself where I can loose it and cry, punch the bed, throw things or curl up into a little ball.

My psychologist has explained my episodes of very high anxiety as “flare ups”, comparing them to someone with arthritis. I was also shown to look at my anxiety as a medical condition, as my brain does function differently then most. At first I thought of this as an excuse for my behaviour to go on; as if by saying it, it in some way gives us people with anxiety a lame excuse to not just “get over it” and move on; a perfect example of how mean I can be to myself! What this has really done though, has relieved some of the pressure I put on myself, and I am able to understand that my thought processes are normal, for people with anxiety, and I’m not just crazy.

A difficult part of my anxiety, is the dark terrible thoughts that come into my head - particularly at night, before sleep. Some so disturbing that I jolt or writhe in bed trying to make them go away. There was a period when they completely went away, but they are sneaking back into my head again, and so maybe this too is just a “flare up” and will also pass.

I am considering starting some meds, but I’m holding off as I want to try to keep things under control through my support channels; husband, psychologist, Mom and friends. If I need some help from meds, I will not be ashamed to reach out, as I know that everyone needs help in different ways at different stages of their lives.

I have always thought of myself as very self aware, but the things I am learning about myself at the age of 38, shock me. They really do. this major shift of awareness has taken place within the last year, 6 months really, around the same time that my anxiety has been at the worst it’s been for years. It’s interesting to go through such a major struggle, alongside such a major “awakening”, and understanding about myself, for that I am thankful. It feels good to document how I’m feeling and where I’m at, I feel writing and drawing are helping me cope with things and life- thanks for reading.

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