Its been a while since I gave an update on my living with anxiety…and that’s a good thing, because it has become far from the front of my mind. I wish I could go back to me having all those panic attacks two years ago when I was wondering if things would ever get “better” and show myself that they indeed would. From a blubbering mess who was afraid to leave the house to a guy who lives with it pretty well. If (10) is living with constant anxiety about everything and (0) is living with no fear of anything in the world…I think I’m at about a (3) right now. Maybe a (4) some days. However, I’ve come to realize that a constant state of (o) is unreal and/or boring. I think I spent most of my life around (1-2) with spikes to around (6) every now and then…then one day. Bam! (10). After that I spent so much time working to get back to (0) that I didn’t realize that (3) is pretty healthy.
I have good days and I have bad days…but the bad days aren’t as bad as they used to be. Good days used to mean that I coped with it well and hid my fear. Now, good days are just good days. Bad days used to mean I had to put my head down, close the door, and get lost in something at work to forget about the world around me. That certainly can still happen every now and then but for the most part…bad days mean I recognize palpable anxiety. What is palpable anxiety? It is anxiety that exists for an understandable reason like deadlines at work, lack of sleep from the baby, and emotional hardships.
This month I will be tackling a few things I added to my “Never Again” list two years ago such as…
- Flying on a plane alone
- Staying in a hotel without my wife
- Giving a speech in front of a crowd
There are other things…but those are the ones I am looking forward to the most while also being slightly anxious about them. I spent my life as a very independent person and racked up thousands of miles flying, millions of points at hotels, and spoke to countless crowds and taught classes. Then I had a panic attack and turned my wife into a safety blanket. Since then, I have forced myself to do things I was afraid of and in return my mind has given me the gift of growing confidence. That’s how I work. When I was little I was afraid of heights and would get vertigo, so I climbed the roof of the house and sat on the top of the chimney till I didn’t feel weird. I did this every day till being up high just felt natural. So…now I’m afraid of being too far away from my wife or the safety of my home – so I force myself to challenge myself. The result?
- I went to the NCAA Final Four with my family
- I went to World Series (1 game without my wife)
- I have been speaking in front of small groups
Its weird…but the sports teams I root for have really done wonders for my well being and forced me to either get off my butt and experience history -or- miss it due to anxiety. Its a great time to be a fan of Wichita State…but its the best for me because it has given me many opportunities to get past my fears. A post for another time. Basically, I feel like I’m on the winning side of the battle. I’ve stopped putting timelines on things, setting unrealistic goals, and talking myself out of living life to the fullest. I still have anxiety and still have bad days…but those are merely skirmishes and I’m looking at the war. I’m scared to fly alone, I’m more scared to be in a different city than my wife for a few days, and speaking in front of the crowd? Who isn’t? Those are palpable anxiety moments. I cannot fail…because there is no such thing as failure. To try…to want to try…that is to succeed. So, to my readers who battle anxiety and ask themselves that terrible doubting question, “Will things ever be normal again?” No. Things will be better – but only if you try to make it better.
My three-year-old Max asked me if “brave” means “not being scared.” I told him, “Brave is being scared but having the courage to try.” I’m trying to be a good father and husband, among other things.
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