Breaking The Silent Darkness

As most of you know, I am very open about my anxiety and depression. I don’t feel a need to hide the fact that I am on medication nor that I have days when the darkness is so thick I feel like I am going to suffocate. Yet, with all that said, I still struggle to tell certain people. Especially employers and co-workers.

I have major anxiety. Sometimes its so crippling I cant even leave the house. Yes, its much better controlled now. I have been in regular therapy since 2009 to teach myself new ways to think and break recycled thoughts; and medication have made it much easier to deal…but it doesn’t completely take it away. The thing that is hard for people to understand is that I do not always have a trigger. Sometimes, I just wake up feeling anxious—like the floor is going to fall out from underneath me. But I do have triggers.

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And one of those triggers is driving. I hate driving. I didn’t get my license until I was 21 because I hate the idea of getting in a car and driving. To this day I still struggle to drive on highways. I avoid it as much as I can. That coupled with social anxiety makes it worse. My dog helps with that…he is a good icebreaker. But I cant take my dog everywhere. So the idea of driving to a place I do not know AND seeing people I do not know…causes a panic attacks like an erupting volcano!

Hearing myself think these thoughts I often think I must sound like the most pathetic creature on the face of the earth. I am 34 and afraid to drive? I am 34 and cant even leave the town I live in? I had to, tell my boss this after she asked me to drive two and half hours to a town in a state that I just moved in. I was panicked. I told her I couldn’t because, truthfully, we have one car and I pick up my partner from work…..so a 5 hour drive plus time at the other office would make it impossible to circumnavigate schedules. But, I really wanted to  tell her the immediate truth….I have anxiety—and driving alone for 5 hours to a place I don’t even know—that triggered anxiety which triggered panic attacks. That weekend I tried really hard to tell myself how irrational I was being…But my brain didn’t care what I thought–it was on a loop of fight or flight. I even tried to get up enough courage to drive 45 minutes to a neighboring town that I have been before—and I started to go but then I got a wave of panic and had to turn around. Its paralyzing. Anxiety is paralyzing. Naturally this triggered even more “oh my Gods what if’s….” and my brain got my body so worked up I couldn’t leave the house the rest of the day.

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Finally I decided I needed to be truthful with my boss. She knew about my depression…and some of my anxiety…but not all of it. So I wrote her an email and explained what I feel, what my anxiety is like…and how I feel stupid I felt even having to admit these things. I was horrified of what the response maybe. I thought for sure, I was going to get in trouble–that she would think it was just an excuse or a cop out.

But no. It was the complete opposite. She completely understood. And even admitted that she has anxiety issues! I felt a huge weight come off me! It felt good! And I wasn’t judged….(so take that brain!). I had a new found respect for my boss after that to. She understood what I was going through….and that made a huge difference!

Sometimes, with depression, anxiety, or anything other mental illness…..you are so afraid that you will be judged by others–or that they will think you are just making up excuses. But in truth, despite how scary or nerve wracking–its best to lay out the cards. Tell it like it is and regardless, always hold your head up. Sometimes when you think you are alone—you really are not!

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Courage and Spirituality

“Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.” ~Carl von Clausewitz

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”― Coco Chanel

I am a very strong person. I have a tough skin. I have a strong personality. But my strongest quality–is that I am real. What you see is what you get. I don’t sugar coat my feelings or thoughts. I don’t believe in being phony. I don’t believe in accommodating who I am just to appease another. I speak up when I see something wrong. When I feel like something is wrong….even if I know that what I am saying will make enemies and I will ultimately lose friends.

I believe in the power of struggle. I feel that we grow through experience–and live through our choices–good or bad. Yes, sometimes we fall so hard that it seems like we are drowning and will never breathe again. But this is what gives us the scars of the spiritual warrior. It’s what makes us stronger.

There are moments where I feel like this world is becoming one where people are relying on each other for the wrong reasons. Giving to people in need is one thing: a persons loses their house to fire, a person is seriously ill and insurance has stopped covering them, a person with a disability who can’t work needs a little extra help, a homeless shelter, a woman’s shelter, a trustworthy charity. I think those are the people/places who really need us to combine efforts and help.

I do not believe that we should live in a “give me give me” society.  I feel personally that this world is becoming a place where people just feel that they are obligated to get things from others because of their choices–OR, because they feel they are privileged/popular enough that others should pay for their personal endeavors.

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I don’t believe one person should work harder so another person can work less. Especially in the case of doing or getting something you need/want on your own. I believe in working hard to do what you need to do to survive. Even IF this means living on very little.  We all struggle. But I feel at the end of the day–if you work hard to do what you to-send that energy out in the Universe-you will survive. Everything you want will come into fruition–even if it take a really long time or you need to struggle. If you have a dream of doing something big and amazing–and work hard to obtain that–it will happen.

My grandmother is 87 years old. She is the MOST influential person in my life. She is my inspiration. One of the two most important people in my life (the other being my amazing partner). She was forced into a German work camp in WWII at the age of 14. At 18, still living in the newly liberated camp, she met and married my grandfather and had my aunt. A year later–with NOTHING but the clothes on their backs–they boarded a ship to America. They left a world where they struggled to survive and then came to a foreign country with no family and few friends. They had nothing. They did not speak English. They had no money. And yet…..they thrived. They never asked for anything from anyone. They worked hard.  The moved to Boston, got steady jobs, learned English, saved enough money to buy a house and a car (though my grandmother took public transportation — and still does!) and eventually raised four children–without asking for anything. I get that tenacity from my grandmother. No matter how low I have gotten–even if they meant living off of $10 a week….I made it. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I got a job bringing home a measly $100/week-and yet still managed to pay my tuition, rent, bills, and buy basic necessities. I graduated as a Medical Assistant, Now I have an amazing job and an amazing life and I did it with a lot of sweat and tears and ramen noodles.  I currently applying to go back to college in the fall, where at the age of 32, I can finally obtain my dream of becoming a veterinarian.

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Does this mean I am not spiritual or lack spiritual insight and compassion? No. It just means that my values maybe a bit different from another persons. We live a world of shadows. People are afraid now to say how they feel. Being spiritual does not mean sacrificing your values or personal beliefs in fear of judgment from others.  We are allowed to still speak about what we feel and think. It doesn’t mean you are “less” spiritual–less of a healer–less of a human–because you feel the need to address something that is constantly pushing your personal values over the edge.

I fear nothing. And I will never apologize for stating my beliefs or values, even if it’s at the cost of losing friends and making enemies.

I know in the end…whatever it is I need to face-I can and I will.

Part of being a spiritual person is having courage.

And as my favorite wizard Dumbledore said, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” 

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