Much of my “work” over the last three years has been rebuilding relationships. What I didn’t understand until recently was the nature of the relationships I had to rebuild first. It was not those with my wife and daughters. More importantly, I needed to work on relationships inside my own head.
I have battled anxiety my entire life. Most of that time I didn’t understand how this affliction affected me. I thought stomach knots were normal. I thought everyone had shortness of breath, imagining worse case scenarios whenever making decisions, trivial or otherwise.
While in high school, I remember sitting on the stairs opposite the entryway of my house. It was 5:15. My buddy was picking me up at 6. Sitting there, 45 minutes early was how I coped with the irrational terror I had something might delay me when 6PM came and somehow my friend would just leave me behind.
Even after I became cognizant that anxiety was making my life miserable, I lacked the tools to deal with it. No longer. My strategy is two-fold. I take a traditional anti-depressant which is often prescribed “off-label” for anxiety. I’m not going to disclose my meds here, not that I care if people know, but over my concern with self-diagnosis. If you think you have anxiety that is overwhelming, go see someone!
Anyhow, in addition to meds, therapy has been extraordinarily important in my battle. As a side note, in an earlier post, I talked about finding the “right” therapist. I finally did. Three years ago. Her name is Allie and she has helped me change my life.
The psychiatrist I saw prior to Allie, wasn’t the “right” one. I ended our relationship soon after she explained that my chronic anxiety was something I just had to live with.
It took me two years to seek help again. That’s how I came to meet Allie. Working with her has led me to understand that I can redefine the relationship I have with my anxiety. Now I am able to recognize anxiety’s presence and how it is affecting me. As a result, I no longer let anxiety control me. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes my anxiety still overwhelms me. And that stinks. But, that’s no longer the norm.
The process of recognizing and acknowledging doesn’t only apply to anxiety. It exactly the same way I’ve changed my relationship with that which brings me “shame”. I still have shame. I just don’t let it control me. At least that’s my goal.
One of the upsides of anxiety is that I’m never late. Most of my life I was perpetually early. Now, I find myself more frequently, only “on-time”. And that feels great. My joke when the topic comes up is, “the problem with being punctual is, there’s never anybody there to congratulate you.”