For a little over a year I have battled with anxiety from a panic attack last June. At first it seemed like the attack came from nowhere which meant it could come from nowhere again. Next it seemed like things would never be the same again which meant that hope was gone for the future. Then I realized how I’d been living with anxiety my whole life but had not properly confronted it…it wasn’t until after I chose to take on a job in corporate America in order to start a family that it all came to a head. It boiled over. Since then I have undergone therapy both in the traditional sense of talking with a therapist about my fears and the non-traditional sense of sharing my thoughts publicly online here…a place I had thought would be a home for the comedies of my 30’s. While fear can be funny the way I tell it, and I do try to find humor in everything, I struggled hard in 2012 and began to lose my humor and just focused on surviving and “getting back to normal.”
Then, in 2013 something very odd happened. The billing department at my therapist’s screwed up and charged me for thousands more than what was due. I was not allowed to schedule a new appointment till my balance was paid. In a few weeks we had successfully corrected the error by the billing department and I was invited back with great apologies…but I realized I had gone weeks without therapy and felt fine. I had turned the corner. I have not sought therapy since and with every day I have grown stronger and felt better. It has been months. When anxiety shows up I challenge it and live my life. I felt “better.” I began to ask myself if I still needed to take my medication or not, which truthfully is such a low dose that it’s effects are most likely a mental crutch more than physical need. A beta blocker in the morning and a low-dose anti-anxiety pill at night.
When I renewed my prescription this last time, the words “Need A Doctor’s Appointment” were on the label. Meaning…I needed to go back to the doctor and have him evaluate if I needed the medication any more. The minute it became a reality that I may not need them any more was the moment I needed them the most. That was when my anxiety levels started rising again – about two weeks ago. Then…Tuesday…I got all freaked out again for seemingly no reason and I confessed to my wife Kate that I was feeling anxious and had not been sharing it with her because I wanted her to feel like she could rely on me. I wanted her to think I was “better.” I immediately felt worse and better at the same time. I went back to work not knowing what I should do and forcing myself to breathe and calm myself down though I felt like at any point I might lose my grip on the Earth and fly off into the universe. I emailed Kate, “I’d like to see a therapist again.” I told her I needed to start exploring the WHY not the HOW. I had reached out for help. Phew!
Kate replied with the simplest gesture that made my day so much better. For the past few weeks she has been trying to tell me about a book she is reading that I have brushed off as a “self-help book.” I hate self-help books and will stick to my fiction, action-thrillers thank you very much. What she had been trying to tell me about was this woman Brené Brown and her book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.” Ugh…self-help book for sure. However, I’m a sucker for TED Talks and she sent me the video of Brené Brown which brightened my day and started pulling the tears from me that I was storing inside for a rainy day. The ideas are simple…obvious…yet so hard to fathom at the same time. Vulnerability is what (so I’m told) has made this blog engaging to many of my readers. My brutal honesty. However, am I that way in life? I believe I am with my wife and friends (mostly), I know I am not with my children, and I am caught between who I am and who I want to be in my professional career. I am a creative thinker who thrives on unconventionalism, making people uncomfortable, and earning my pay-dirt with my hands in the field among the comradery of those who would follow me to battle in film, production, and event management. Who do I want to be? I want to be like my dad. So…here I am behind this desk, wearing slacks with my shirt tucked in, driving a car with airbags, working late on marketing and advertising projects, and being a positive role model for my kids. I am happy doing this because I know the rewards grow with time, I am good at it, and now that I have children I feel the need to take less risks in life for their sake…but I like risks. I like betting it all on black! I want another tattoo…one that people see every day and isn’t covered up by a polo shirt. I want to put my earrings back in. I want to build the back porch I’ve been planning for over two years. I want to turn off my cell phone and go hide in the mountains for weeks again like I did when I graduated college. I want to spend as much time as possible submerged in Lake George. I want to be alone in the woods of the Adirondacks where my ancestors are from…i want to stand there in the snow and listen to the sound of the snowflakes landing on dry leaves. I want to be afraid of bears, thin ice, and falling trees…not deadlines, finances, and responsibility. I want my muscles to ache from shoveling, walking, lifting, and carrying…not sitting and staring at a screen as my eye-sight goes bad.
Luckily, I got to do those things so I don’t feel like I missed out. I also live the way I do now out of choice not circumstance. I don’t feel trapped. I just feel slightly numb. Maybe its the lack of sleep from having a new baby? Maybe its the clonazepam? Maybe its just me getting older…like everyone else. Either way, this video my wife sent me spoke to me. If you’re reading this maybe you’re looking for something to speak to you too. It’s about connections…how we humans are built for making connections with each other and places. It’s about vulnerability…and letting go of control. It’s about chaos…the birthplace of all things. It made me laugh…because everything makes me laugh…because life is funny when you think about it. I’m lucky to have the connections I have, to be able to be vulnerable, and to accept who I am…even if every now and then I try to be someone I’m not. I know who I am…I just have to remember to be me in the things I do and not try to be anyone else. I have to stop worrying what people think of me.
Well… This got somber in a hurry… Two cows are sitting in a field, one says to the other, “So…how about this Mad Cow Disease? Its pretty scary stuff right?” The other cow nods in agreements and replies, “Very scary…but what do I know, I’m a helicopter.”
That’s better. So, all you helicopters…here is a video that my wife sent me that made me smile. Hope you smile too…you’re beautiful just the way you are.
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