I've been anxious about writing this post. How's that for ironic?
It's not exactly the most attractive topic to write about. Not that that bothers me in the slightest, but I suppose it's exposing yourself in a different way than you did before. Making yourself more vulnerable in a way.
When I started this blog in March 2014 I started it with the intention of going for it full throttle. It's the very reason that I debated for so long about whether it was a good idea or not. If I was going to do it, I was going to be an open book. I read blogs for years and what attracted me most to that type of writing was the honesty. The open-ness. The realness I suppose. I found it to be an honest, entertaining and yet non glamorised (for the most part. We all love a good Instagram filter now...) portrayal of reality. There is something really attractive to me about the ordinary. The "every day". I always remember my English teacher in secondary school talking about "finding the extraordinary in the ordinary". It stuck with me then and still resonates with me today. People love to know about other people's lives. It's human nature. We like to be able to relate to things, people, places. We like to look at relationships and compare them to our own. We like to create goals and aspire to be like those whom we admire. It's not a bad thing in my opinion.
I used to be obsessed with glossy magazines. I'd buy 3-5 a week and read them cover to cover on the way home from work each night. At some point in my life I got bored of that though, and I started spending my time reading blogs online. I felt that it fed me more.
If I was going to set up one myself, I wanted to be honest. I think I've managed to achieve that so far. For example in this post I blogged about wanting a natural birth, and soon after wrote this one which is my birth story. A birth that features a glorious epidural. What you see here is me, absolutely and totally me. But of course it's mostly the good parts. Naturally we like to talk about the times that are worth celebrating, the triumphs and the good times.
For a while now I've wanted to write about my anxiety but I didn't really know how to. I'm still not sure if I know how to. I suppose I should start by explaining what it actually is for me.
It's something I've always suffered with but it's only in recent years that I've become self-aware enough to recognise and admit it.
At first I thought it was just another thread of my dramatic personality. I've always been a bit vivacious, I love telling stories and I am fond of the odd enhancement for comedic affect. I got to the point where I managed to convince myself that I was imagining it. Surely it was just something that I could change, if I wanted to? A couple of years of soul-searching and I reached the very clear realization that it couldn't have been further from that. Yes it's part of me, but it is the part that I struggle deeply with. One that I cannot control at the best (and worst) of times, and one that I absolutely resent to my core.
It's an ugly little fella, this anxiety. It creeps up on you at the weirdest of times. It's not necessarily big events, interviews, public speaking etc. I'm actually fairly comfortable in all of those situations. For me it's usually at it's most intense in the midst of some of the most every-day and normal of moments. Simple tasks can become tirelessly stressful. I can go from 1-10 in about a mili-second. I go to the worst place, plan my reaction to it, and wait in dread for it to happen.
Let's set the scene shall we? It's a sunny day and I'm sitting in my nice house, surrounded by people I love, with something nice to do later that day. I've paid the bills, the house is reasonably tidy and in general I'm feeling pretty good. Suddenly, out of absolutely nowhere, I start to feel things shifting. It quite literally feels like something chasing me. The thoughts, the anxiety, that feeling of forboding. I'm not 100% sure what it's going to be about in this particular situation but I know I'm terrified of it, not prepared, and I don't want to deal with it.
It's terrifying. That feeling of absolute dread. Wishing you could fast forward immediately and "do it", "say it", "find it", "watch it". Whatever the task might be. For me it's a feeling of needing it to be here now so that I can tick it off the list and move on to the next irrational fear.
It's always irrational, of course. If you were telling me this right now I would be well able to tell you about why you should and shouldn't feel a certain way about something. It would be obvious to me. Clear. A given.
But that's the thing, you see. In those moments of intense anxiety, nothing is clear. I could be talking to the person next to me but my mind is 90% in another place. It's breaking the entire situation down, figuring out how I can cope best, and trying to talk myself out of the feeling. It never works though.
What does work is letting it take it's course though. My counceller said to me to "let the feeling sit with you". This was great advice. Sometimes just submitting to it and letting it wash over me is the best way to deal with it. It's a bit exhilirating if I'm honest. There is something profoundly powerful about accepting something about yourself. I can be very critical of myself and for a very long time I would have cared far too much about what people thought of me. Life has thought me to accept the things that we cannot change. This is just way way bigger than me.
So I sit there, my mind going a million miles an hour, the colour draining from my face and my breath quickening. I almost have a little "bring it on" moment and I sort of look at it straight in the eye and just say "go". It's inevitable. It comes on me, it stays around for a few minutes, and then it goes. Sometimes it stays longer. Those are the difficult times. Particularly if it's in the middle of a conversation with someone.
Randomly enough I find house work to be a great remedy. It keeps my mind preoccupied in the right ways. Black and white logical tasks. Ticking boxes. That type of thing sits really well with me.
Even as I write this I know that it probably makes no sense to a lot of you, but to anyone who suffers from anxiety (or thinks that they might) it will be as clear as day. Rotten isn't it?
I've reached a stage where I'm coping with it quite well. Years and years of trying to talk myself out of it, trying to explain it to people, and numberous conselling sessions, have lead me to this point. It's just one of those things. It's part of me and it's part of my chemistry. I've learned different tips and tricks to help me along the way and it's manageable for the most part.
I started feeling the affects of my "medication" on June 9th 2014. Something came in to my life that changed the way my mind worked. The biggest shift of all. It did something to me. Suddenly my mind was a calmer place, I was more accepting of myself, and I noticed a massive massive change in my thought process.
I was prescribed a son. Billy Sean Byrne. He came in to my life and apart from the general euphoria that he brought, he brought a remedy.
He's helped me stay in the moment, he forces me to be mindful, he interrupts my thought process, and he gives me a sense of self that I never even knew existed. Suddenly I'm not the most important person in my life any more. It's liberating.
It's quite amazing really - the youngest and most innocent person in my life has turned out to be the wisest.
Thank you, Billy, for being the remedy to my ailments, the light in my day, and for giving me something to love, cherish and honour on a daily basis. Something bigger and better than myself.