The Deep End

 "In all the good times I find myself longing for change, and in the bad times I fear myself." This line speaks to me. It strikes a chord in my soul. It's from the song Shallow (Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper) and whenever I hear it, I am floored by the accuracy of it. When things are good, I am a mover and a shaker. I'm always looking towards the next goal and not content to just be.  It's a flaw that I am trying to work on, ha. When I'm feeling anxious or down, I am flat out afraid of myself. I get so fearful that I won't be able to pull myself together and will go back to the full-on hell that was my life a year ago. 

A year ago, I was in free-fall. A year ago, I had no idea how far down my bottom was, nor how hard it would hurt once I hit it. Now that I've scraped, clawed, and climbed my way out...I'm sometimes afraid of the height of being up...and also my potential for descent. The panic, the despair, the anxiety, the hell...all started with a physical illness. A run of the mill problem that was actually treated and initially went away...but my devolving mental state clung to it and at the time, manifested into physical pain. Pain that refused to subside, and which I lived with for months with no real explanation. After making strides with my mental health, the pain went away. But every now and again I get a twinge of it, and it scares the absolute shit out of me. 

This pain/physical manifestation is one of my worst triggers for anxiety. If I dwell too much on the past, it will pop up. If I am stressed about lots of things, it will pop up. When it does, I have to pull back and recognize that it is a result of the chaos swirling around my head and not a chronic problem come back to ruin my life. I live in fear of this trigger most days, because I have no control over it. If I were to get sick with the same type of bug, would I have the mental fortitude to endure it and the associations I now have with it? I don't know, and that's terrifying. 

But, most triggers are, by nature, terrifying, right? They're called triggers because they flip a switch that has the potential to set off an explosion of fear. Our fight or flight wiring screams at us to avoid triggers at all costs (if we can.) But avoidance (even though impossible in this case) never really reduces anxiety, does it? Arguably, avoidance of triggers only creates more fear of those triggers. I have found that some distraction can be helpful, but that sitting with  discomfort is usually the best bet, even though it pushes against every one of our instincts. 

I've been spinning my wheels today trying to outrun the mounting sensation that scares me to my core. I am a creature of habit and because bad habits are often hard to break, I found myself actively trying to ignore parts of my body, until it all became overwhelming and I almost went into a panic. Almost is key here...I exerted the power I never think I possess, and prevented myself from floundering in deep end of the mental pool. After recognizing what was going on, I allowed myself some space to cry and share my fears with my husband...fears of failure, fears of the past haunting my present, fears of, well, myself. After airing out the thoughts that have been festering in the recesses of my mind, I think I am starting to feel better. I'm not back to the shallows yet, but nor am I drowning. Let's just say I'm standing on my tip toes to keep my head above the water, but inching closer to the place where I can breathe a little easier. 


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