I conquered

It’s been a while since I published a blog post here. I’ve written some posts but those have ended up in the drafts folder. Book Fridays is on hiatus until January. I have plenty of books to talk about! Tonight, I find myself in the mood to update my blog and so I am sitting at my dining table doing just that.

This year was both amazing and horrible for me. The horrible parts aren’t something I feel like sharing but I did want to share some of the amazing things I have accomplished this year.

I don’t make it a secret that I struggle with my mental health and have done for the past 7 years. I have anxiety disorder and panic attacks. For a while they restricted my life in ways most people don’t know about. Everyday things were struggles for me. Going to the store presented challenges, would I have a panic attack? Would I collapse? On and on went the what ifs. Going to new places triggered my anxiety, feeling lost in my own town had the same effect. In all it was just a drag and even though I did manage to do some things I knew that I wasn’t living my life to the fullest.

This summer I began to notice a change in my anxiety. My symptoms were less frequent and whenever I did start to panic I managed to squash it easily. I started building my confidence by challenging myself everyday to do something I thought I could not do. Here’s the thing about my anxiety, it often tells me I can’t do a lot of things. I started off small, going to the store on my own to pick up a couple of things and I slowly started adding stops to my outings.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing. There was a time I couldn’t manage to pick my husband up from the airport because the mere thought of the drive crippled me. This happened while I was making all kinds of progress and it almost set me back. It embarrasses me to an extent to share this but at the same time it doesn’t because what other people think about that doesn’t matter.

My biggest accomplishment came in November when I traveled to Puerto Rico to visit my parents for two weeks. I traveled alone with a 3 year old. It was THE goal I had set for myself years ago when overcoming my anxiety was nothing but a pipe dream. I did it. Was I anxious? Yes. Did I experience  a panic attack or two? Yes. I’m not cured and I never will be but I’ve managed to do things I’ve been unable to do and my anxiety came with me. It will always be with me but I am finally at a place where I feel in control of it.

As I write this and perhaps because I am writing about anxiety I am feeling very anxious (it’s probably why I don’t write about it as much). It’s a familiar feeling but no matter how familiar it’s always a noxious one. I sometimes find it difficult to discuss anxiety with people because for those who don’t experience it as a disorder understanding it can be difficult. For one thing anxiety doesn’t necessarily have a cause. Something can trigger those feelings for me but I cannot pinpoint why I have the disorder. We all feel nervous, stressed, and scared  now and then but living with anxiety for me means a constant pressure on my shoulders, a tightness in my chest and a feeling of dread. They are intense feelings that interfere with my life and how I live it.

Whenever I talk to people about my anxiety I get asked about medication. I am currently not taking any medication but I’ve always maintained that should I reach a point where I need it I will take it. I don’t believe it’s responsible to pat oneself on the back for not taking medication. The position that medication for mental illness is not needed is irresponsible and ill informed. I fully support medication. It really is the difference between life and death for lots of people. My decision to not take medication is mine alone and not a reflection on my position of the same.

Today I walked to a nearby park with my son. A year ago just thinking about walking there sent my heart racing. Today I spent two wonderful hours enjoying the slightly cooler Florida weather.

It was a good day.

Below are some photos from my trip to PR. See you next year!