Five years ago I lost my mind at this time of year. I suddenly and without warning began to experience anxiety which, I realize now, I had always experienced but this was different in many ways including duration and intensity, meaning, I was in a state of unrelenting panic every waking moment for weeks and weeks which stretched into months.
I had only had two other times in my life which even came near this experience and both of them were directly related to external and very real circumstances but this time, there was no correlating event, simply a battle between two parts of my mind and thus, there was no way to win.
Both parts were me.
Now there had been stressors leading up to this but just life stuff. We talk about the perfect storm and I think perhaps this was a case of that. The life stuff (and some of it fairly intense) combined with plummeting estrogen and who-knows-what-else? to create this...insanity.
I can only call it that.
After trying fruitlessly to combat or come through it on my own with exercise and diet and meditation and every other thing they say to do, I went and got medication which helped and eventually, I got on a form of natural hormones which I think may have helped more than anything and I am no longer on the medication and have not been for several years and mostly, I am okay in the sense that I can live my life without the panic although I think I will probably always carry traces of the anxiety around with me. It is who I am and may well stem from a traumatic childhood as so many of these things do but, I can live with it.
But sometimes, that panic returns and this time of year it usually does. The body holds anniversaries with cellular memory, even if we do not consciously think of them. And so it is that as my birthday approaches, the panic creeps back in and so it has. And as it creeps, as it begins to form and take shape in my mind and in my body, I always have the fear that it will be as it was five years ago and take over entirely again and I will be left in that place of no-hope and fight-or-flight.
I do not really think that will happen but it is a fear. I admit it.
I woke up with it today, not a level 10, by any means, but an uncomfortable 6, say. But not fully bloomed. Not with all of the elements involved and for that I am grateful.
I have taken my walk and exercise does help. I take my natural hormones. I get good sleep. Perhaps too much but I have always loved sleep and needed more of it than many and I am old enough to realize that this, too, is part of who I am and I do not fight it or berate myself for it. I take of much of it as I need which I can take.
I know that this has been a year of extremes. Deaths and marriages, mostly, and far more traveling than I am accustomed to or feel comfort with. And as I write this, I am getting ready to leave for Asheville to visit my youngest daughter and my oldest daughter will be traveling with me and I know that the trip will be a joy and I can't wait and yet...of course I am anxious.
Well. As Matt Haig said, writing can help. When I had the horrible time, five years ago, I never quite quit writing. Even as I felt my most frantic, I wrote. Sometimes not too much because to truly write about what was going on sounded and felt too extreme and panicky and of course I didn't want to really worry the people I loved, even as I knew I desperately needed them.
It was a fine line and crazy people are not so good at those. BUT, I came through it, I am still here, and I am still writing and it is still part of my soul-salvation.
As is sleep, as is friendship, as is reading, as is cooking, as is exercise, as are my chickens. All of these and most especially, love, are the antidotes to the irrational thoughts which anxiety brings.
So thank-you, for your part in my difficult times and in my joyous ones too. Even as I isolate myself sometimes (which is a symptom AND a contributing factor), I never feel alone. And am able, eventually to push through or wait patiently, and come out the other side. Experience has proven this to be true and I write it down and send it out to remind myself, the universe, and perhaps you.
And now I am going to go to town and I will see my grandsons and their very presence fills up too much space in me for the anxiety to be in control and overall, I do not feel so bad. Not so bad at all.
As Always...Ms. Moon