March 21, 2016

Into-and out of-the dark

I write about anxiety, usually.  It’s kind of my thing.  I had my first panic attack in 1993 at the age of 16.  My anxiety went into remission and reared it’s ugly head, again, in 2005 and it kind of hasn’t gone away since then.  I can’t tell you that it’s a daily struggle, right now, although it has been for large parts of my past.  There were days when it was an hourly struggle and it turned me into a coward.  Those days are over, I hope, thanks to years of therapy and medication.  I live a pretty functional life without panic and anxiety taking over the steering wheel, but, to be honest, panic feels like a  disliked neighbor that you’ve finally got to STOP coming over, but you know they’re watching you through the curtains, marking your comings and goings and waiting for you to leave the door open for them.  Anxiety is always waiting for a crack in my armor.


I have tools now.  Mantras.  I can detect the early warning signs (sort of like a tornado siren) and I am able to mount a strong defense which is really me saying, to myself “Don’t think like that.  Why are you thinking like that?  Stop that right now!  Think about something else!  7×56 is 392!”  It’s weird, but it works and I try very hard to never NEVER feed the wrong wolf.


As my anxiety has quit coming over, something else took over the last half of last year; depression.  Depression, for me, had always been anxiety’s quiet roommate.  Anxiety is so big and loud and so hard to ignore.  Depression could just curl up on the couch and not bother anyone, mostly.  Sure, I’d get snippy sometimes or bogged down and unable to just DO but in light of the big, boisterous loud anxiety, depression just didn’t get much attention.  Until this year when it stood up off the couch, put on a boa an announced itself here to stay.  At first, I was clear.  I didn’t have time for this crap.  I just managed to get anxiety to ship out, I didn’t need something else in it’s place, but depression is different than anxiety.  Anxiety bursts through the door you’re trying desperately to hold closed and depression sneaks in slowly, when you’re not looking  First a toe, then two toes, then a foot, an ankle, a knee and soon it’s taking up all of your space, elephant sized and you find that no matter how hard you put yourself into shoving it back out of the door, you can’t.  It’s too big and too heavy.


At first, you sit a little a longer in the evening.  Or, you stay up a little later.  It’s small.  Subtle.  Things only seem 2% less bright than they did before and you press on, because what’s 2%?  But it grows and grows until everything is dull and you are mired in it.  Like quicksand or that mud that sucked the shoe right off your foot when you were 10 and you had to walk home with just one shoe and explain that you lost the other and you looked right where it come off, but it had disappeared.  Part of it, I’m convinced, was hormones.  Things got weird in lady town over the past year and I know that contributed to my feelings of depression, but the vast majority was in the sucking vacuum anxiety left behind, depression was finally able to grow to it’s full height and I wasn’t prepared for that battle.


For me, the drain of depression is cyclical.  It’s so hard to do anything when you are so mired down, but the inability to do makes me feel worse, which mires me down further and until I just barely have one nostril above the water line (and I’m standing on my tip toes).  Since I took care of my problems in lady town, my depression has been easing enough for me to use the “positive attitude” solution that people who don’t know anything about depression will suggest as a technique.  I’ve been able to harness a little momentum and it’s pulling me out of the muck.  My life is still a little muddy and murky and mucky, but I’m unsticking myself, slowly.  A centimeter or two at a time.





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