I Get To Recover Every Day
I am fortunate to have suffered from crippling anxiety and depression for most of my life, unlike people with other chronic illnesses, I get to recover every day. I understand that people with mental illness are generally never completely free of it, but I am here to tell you that with a lot of work and focus, you can get to a very good place.
Panic has generally left me for more fertile grounds, but i had a dose of it today when I had to shut down my hardy modem and replace it with a new one, and throw my work and much of my life on the mercy of a giant corporation that pretends to care about me, but I know cannot really. They are, by definition, merciless.
Maria took charge and helped me take apart the old modem and install the activate the new one right after lunch. I kept trying to put it off, she eventually stomped her feet and said, "let's do it now." It seemed like a good deal, Spectrum is lowering my bill substantially and giving me faster Internet, part of their takeover of the old and now devoured Time Warner Cable company.
But I was terrified about it, it kept me up for days, and I could barely come into my office to deal with. I've been in every kind of accepted treatment there is, and some that are not accepted – analysis, talking therapy, psychoanalysis, Shamonic healing, spiritual healing, Homeopathic and Holistic healing, and perhaps a half-dozen more.
My anxiety was devastating to me, my family, my work, people who worked for me, with me, friends. It blocked or damaged or destroyed every thing I loved and wanted to do with my life.In the world I grew up in, mental illness carried great shame. My parents hid it and no one ever spoke of it. Much later, I came to know every one saw it. Shame on them.
Finally, at age 61, I confronted it directly, decided I would rather die that continue to hide from it, I entered an intense kind of dynamic social therapy, explored visualization and meditation, abandoned the medications I had become addicted to, and gave over my life to healing.
I was fortunate, and I did heal. Last night, and for reasons I can't fathom, the idea of disconnecting this modem, my literal and spiritual connection to my work, my community, my blog and photography, my writing and books simply terrified me. When the modem was connected, I called up Spectrum because it was supposed to be working in a few minutes and did not.
I was disconnected from one, then, another, Internet support person (isn't this all familiar to us all?), then discovered that I had the modem hooked up a router than I once needed to run the computers in our house, but did not need any longer. The new modems have one built in.
My computer suddenly came online, although there was a host of mysterious software glitches and errors. Maria could not get online with her computer, yet I realized that I had learned a lot about my anxiety once more. Once gain, I saw that I must never run from it, but towards it. The anxiety itself, for all the pain it causes, cannot kill or maim me. Only the fear of it.
I knew Maria was strong and competent, I left her on the phone and went out and did chores and errands while she talked to the Internet Support group. She was not anxious.
We had finally found one who was able to stay on the phone – and he gave her a new password we forget to ask about to get onto the new Wi-Fi network. A few minutes when I got home, she was online.
Spectrum told the truth.
My new modem does work, my bill will be lower, and my Internet is as fast as Internet can be. I was offline for three hours. As usual in our lives with modern technology and gargantuan corporations, things did not go smoothly or quite as promised, but I got there. There was, of course nothing to be terrified about, that was my illness speaking, I could see it in the daylight but not at night.
What have I learned about anxiety that I can share? First off, there is help, and it helps. It might take a long time and lots of hard work, but there is gold at the end of the rainbow, this kind of panic attack is very rare for me now. Mostly, I live in peace and find my strength and truth every day of my life.
Secondly, I do not run from my fear, I run towards it. There is nothing worse than hiding from it.
Mental illness is common, there is no shame to it, about 47.3 million Americans are anxious, depressed, or bipolar. There is no magic wand for it, but unlike cancer or chronic heart disease, you get the chance to recover some every day. I woke up trembling and in an awful sweat, and when Maria asked what was wrong, I could not talk about it, just like the old days, from the time I was four years old. I never could talk about it, so nobody ever could help me.
But a part of me recognized it was not about something that was real, and a part of me did not. That part is getting weaker every day.
I am in a good place tonight, tired and drained, but at peace. It will take a day or two to move completely past it, it was upsetting but not that big a deal. I am exhausted from it. I get to recover every day. Tomorrow, Tuesday, is my birthday. Wednesday Maria is taking me to the race track and then out to see a play.
I am glad I got the new modem is here,, I am happy it is working. One of the good things about my illness is that I have an almost autistic compulsion to write, create and photograph. That may well be the reason I have panic attacks when that is threatened or shut down.
I hope the creating part of it never heals.