Monday, March 19, 2012

My Flair

I have work in the morning, and it's late and I should totally be sleeping, but instead I'm sitting up late at night watching Netflix trash, eating iced circus cookies {the amazing pink and white ones, except I'm only actually eating the pink ones because they taste better-duh} and looking like this:

Which is awful and scary, but it's all because I didn't straighten or even brush my hair after my shower, and my anxiety kicked into overdrive somewhere around 6 p.m. today, whilst driving on the freeway. 
Because anxiety is an inconvenient asshole.

I don't talk a lot about my anxiety, or about panic attacks, or about what triggers either of those things for me because talking about it is a trigger for me {how fucking inconvenient is that?!} and also because most people don't ever know what to say, so they just do the sympathetic head tilt and slow nod and make that insincere concerned "Oh I'm sorry" face that doesn't mean shit. You know, the same one people make when you tell them you stepped in dog shit.
It's a polite face that basically equals "I have no idea what to say to you because I can in no way relate to what you're saying, I just know it's bad so I'll look sad for you but I'm not"
Anyway, I don't talk about it.
I remember how people used to treat my dad after finding out he was bipolar, and I guess some part of me is worried about being treated differently too.
Like I'm crazy, even though I know I'm not, or that people will worry about me when they shouldn't, or that they won't care when I need them too because they don't take it seriously, and worst of all I worry that they won't like me or love me anymore because they see me as damaged, broken, inconvenient or a hassle.
It's all terrifying. 
Luckily, I am not bipolar, but I do have cognitive OCD and an anxiety disorder. 
Really, those things are kind of one and the same because OCD is an anxiety disorder, but it's such a major symptom of anxiety, that it also causes anxiety, and feels so different from regular anxiety that I count it separately. 
Most of the time my anxiety is so low and well controlled that it is basically non-existent. I can go months and months without feeling anxious at all, and then BAM. I'm a shaking mess, driving home from work with my hands clenched on the steering will, biting my tongue and praying to just get home, just get home, just get home and I'll be ok. Counting every breath I take and hoping against hope that I don't become hysterical or pass out like I feel I'm about to.
Sometimes I have small periods of higher anxiety. Weeks or months where I may not experience anxiety everyday, but I have more anxiety attacks than normal and I'm far more sensitive to my triggers. 
{For those who are new to all this mental illness jargon, a trigger is exactly what it sounds like: some random, insignificant shit that rocks my entire world and leaves me sweating and shaking and gripping the edge of a bathroom counter praying to live}
I experienced one anxiety period where I had multiple anxiety attacks a day, and it was nearly crippling.
I look back on that summer and honestly wonder how I survived it.
For some reason I've had higher anxiety the last couple weeks than I normally do, so I would say I'm in a bit of an anxiety period.
I have been avoiding certain freeway on-ramps that are especially bad for me during anxiety periods because those are triggers for me, even though when I am in an anxiety free period I can take almost any on ramp with absolutely no problem {with the exception of one specific one that makes me feel like I'm going to pass out regardless of my mental state at the time} and I haven't been sleeping as well, i.e. tonight, when I am up at 11 p.m. with a lions mane for hair, writing about how fucked up I am.
Honestly I don't know why I'm writing this, except for the fact that it makes me feel better and more anxious somehow simultaneously.
I feel better because it's like talking it out with a trusted friend, and I feel worse because talking about my anxiety gives me anxiety.
I feel like Jennifer Aniston in Office Space: "I don't like talking about my flair" 
And I'm writing about it because I get hundreds of blog views a month {some fucking crazy how} and I know, I know one of you readers out there suffers from something like what I suffer from. I know someone out there is up late at night, surfing blogs, trying to feel better enough to fall asleep, and I'm writing this with the hope that that one specific reader will find this post, and know they're not crazy.
Know they're not alone, as trite as that sounds.
And know that they are not damaged goods, and they can talk about what's wrong without everyone going "Oh...." and then slowly backing away.
I'll be honest, not everyone will understand your burden, and not everyone will be able to deal with it. I mean, as someone that has anxiety I have no idea how to call my boss and be like "I'm sorry, I can't come in today because I feel like I'm going to die and everything is scaring me." or tell the police officer who comes to see if I'm OK on the side of the freeway "Yes officer I am completely sober. I stopped on the side of the freeway in the most dangerous spot possible because it was safer than driving on an on ramp from one freeway to the next. I have vertigo occasionally. Your nails are freaking me out. Can you reach into the glove compartment and hand me my Xanax? YES I'M FUCKING SOBER." I can't imagine how hard it would be for someone who's never experienced this to try to grasp why I can't watch that movie right now even though I said two weeks ago I was dying to see it, because it's a trigger for me now when it wasn't then, or how a "normal" person would even begin to understand what it feels like to be certain you're dying for 15 straight minutes, completely out of the blue.
People have totally left my life because they didn't want to sit on the bathroom floor and hold my hand while I hyperventilated and cried.
I don't blame them.
But the people that have stayed, that have held my hand and stroked my hair, and told me I was going to be ok, the people that have laid with me while I cried or listened to me ramble about the crazy shit I'm afraid of, or accepted the fact that yes, we have to get off at this exit and take surface streets the rest of the way because the on ramp from this freeway to the next one might fucking kill me today, those people are so amazing, and so brave, and exactly the kind of people that people like me need around, as opposed to the ones who just want to hear about my illness out of a morbid curiosity, and then leave when they get too freaked out to deal with the real life symptoms that come with the sometimes sadly hilarious anxiety stories. 

If you're up late tonight, and you feel like shit, and you hid in a bathroom today, or cried in the car today, or sat down in a corner in a department store and took your own pulse just to reassure yourself you in fact aren't having a heart attack in Macy's, I get it.
I know what you're feeling, and I'm sorry for you.
Depression and anxiety are fucking liars, and if you keep fighting, you'll win.

I promise.

Get some sleep. You have fucking work tomorrow.
{I'm sorry about that too}

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