Happy Thursday, everyone.
I had been planning to share a wonderfully witty, lighthearted post with you today, but alas.
It is autumn which means the seasons are changing, the air is crisp and cool, daylight is waning and it seems to bring in me a change as well.
I’ve been feeling it growing in me the last couple months, this “anxiety”. I hate calling it that because I don’t feel what I understand as anxiousness or worry. Instead, I feel like an over steeped cup of tea version of myself. Green tea steeped too long gets bitter. That is me now.
Irritable, short fused, tired with difficulty focusing and concentrating. As it grows, I feel this loss of control when things go wrong coupled with an unbelievable anger and frustration. Unruly kids, a fight with the hubs, they all just send me to this place where I feel an unbelievable doom or sense of helplessness.
“This will never get better.”
“I can’t take this. It’s not going to end.”
“This isn’t worth it.”
From there, I find my mind wandering to things that I cannot admit here because I can barely say them out loud. I want to literally pull my hair from my head because maybe this anger, this hopelessness can be distracted or appeased with a small sacrifice or a physical pain equal to this emotion.
Sounds fucked up, right? It is. I won’t deny it.
I am nervous to share all of it here. Not because any of you have been unkind. In fact, I’ve felt nothing but support. I think it really boils down to shame.
I don’t like myself like this.
But, I know it’s not me.
I told myself for so long while it built that it would “get better when ___”
my husband’s surgery was done
the kids went back to school
the craft fairs were done
the holiday season is over
It will get better when ___. It will get better when ___. It’s like my own made up, fucked up mantra.
But it’s not. I’ve finally figured out that anxiety is a lot like that sore in your mouth and the stressors in your life are like your tongue. They poke at it and poke at it, but they didn’t make it and they aren’t necessarily making it worse, just reminding you it’s there and hasn’t gone away. The wound is from something completely unrelated and the poking sure isn’t making it better, just reminding you again and again how much it hurts. It’s the wound that needs healing.
So, I decided to start my medication again. It felt to me like a failure and I could feel my shame sneaking up on me. I told my hubby about it in a nonchalant, off-hand way thinking that if I didn’t make a big deal about it then it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Now maybe your that person on the other side of someone dealing with anxiety. If so, I hope this post reaches you. It is so desperately hard to tell someone, to put it in words (verbal or written) to make someone understand what it’s like. And for all I know and assume to be true, it is much different for everyone.
Now, telling my husband that first night didn’t go as planned. I left the conversation feeling unsupported. This is by no means any fault of my husband. In his defense, how can he understand how bad things are when I didn’t tell him and was scared to let him in. I didn’t give him the full truth because I was ashamed of where my brain had been taking me and didn’t want him to see it. Vulnerability with the one I love is the hardest thing for me. If I tell someone else and they don’t like me, think bad or terrible things about me, well, who gives a shit. But to bare everything and have my husband think these things, well, that’s a different story. So, I stuff it all inside. I hide it as best I can and from the outside there’s so much that he cannot see.
A week passed while this resentment festered inside of me. Sensing something wrong (to his credit, my husband is unbelievably caring and can pick up on my moods like some people can read tea leaves) he confronted me. And I spilled. I let him behind the curtain. I unhinged and let go. I told him that though it may seem like weakness, I know that I need the medication to get me back to a place where I can begin to work on it, to deal with it. He handled it with as much grace as anyone faced with these words can. He gave me grace. He told me he knows that though all of these things hurt to hear, he knows it’s not me.
The best part? That alone made me feel so much better. Not right away. It’s taken a few days to feel each other out, to let go of the self-destructive voice inside of my head trying to tell me things like
“He doesn’t love you like this.”
“He doesn’t understand.”
“He’s judging you.”
“He thinks your a bad mom/wife/person.”
Those were my words, not his and I had to tell myself this over and over. He has been nothing but supportive and letting him in brought me so much relief. Not telling him, withholding from him was letting go of my faith in him and not giving him credit for the wonderful, supportive, loving man he is.
So if this story is also yours, tell him/her/someone. Make sure it’s someone you love. Find that person you can trust. They love you and they will continue to love you and you don’t need to carry it all yourself. And if you are the receiver, the one on the other side hearing this from someone you love, take them seriously, don’t disregard or downplay, and remember that telling you was the hardest thing to do in the world. It means they love you, trust you, and need your support.