I am 33.
That means I’ve officially been struggling with this bullshit for 18 years. I am also an expert. My brain’s neurons or whatever have been hard at work becoming professional worriers for years.
Not technically (#dontsueme). Some might say I have no business giving advice to anyone. But I have definitely been marinating in this ugly swamp for almost two decades, so I think I’ve earned my right to talk about it publicly. This is my therapy.
Let me begin with a little housekeeping:
- This site is based entirely on personal experience, observations, and Dr. Google.
- I will swear sometimes.
- I started this thing so that I can get my thoughts out there. I hope it can bring me some kind of therapeutic relief that is not medically-induced.
- I will likely eventually offend someone (assuming people actually read this thing), but not on purpose. If you let me know about it politely, we can chat about it.
- I hope I can help you, too, even if only by letting you know you’re not alone.
I hope I’ve gotten the general point across that I am not perfect (uh, hence this blog’s subject matter…), I aim to help, and if you don’t like it, I would like it a lot if you’d be nice about it. Because I have social anxiety disorder. And if you email me really mean things, I will probably cry and have a panic attack. Because I have panic disorder. Then I might pull down the site because I am terrified that the $60 I spent on it was a huge mistake, that the one email means everyone who’s read this hated it too, and I will be in much more dire straits than I currently am. Because I have generalized anxiety disorder (“GAD”) and everything freaks me out without true justification. Then I’ll get depressed about it, because I also have that.
If you were counting, that’s four disorders that I have. Those are all psychiatrist-diagnosed beauties right there. I also believe I have attention deficit disorder, dermatillomania, and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. But those are self-diagnoses that I’ve never really asked my doctors about in detail. Because the drugs they’ve prescribed me cover pretty much all of those, anyway.
That’s another thing. I am medicated for my anxieties. I am on a high dose of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (“SSRI” – a type of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant) as well as another medication that I take for acute flare-ups. For me, these medications mean the difference between participating and not participating in typical adult life. The hard stuff. Like, say, grocery shopping in public.
I wish I could say that I wasn’t always this way. But I bet anxiety was skipping around in the back of my head since the day I was born, just waiting for an excuse to jump out and become the main character of my life. That happened when I was about 15. We’ll get to that later.
Over the years, though, I have successfully ventured out of the house, formed relationships, and even cultivated a relatively successful career. I’ve learned how to navigate the minefield. But it’s still there. And when a little bump in the road arises, it feels like Mt. Everest. Or K2. Whatever is more unsurmountable.
Among the various therapies I’ve tried over the years (medication, a psychologist, self-help books, hiding, etc.), two things have stood out as being more helpful than anything else: communication and writing.
Communication is amazing. I’ve met many people in real life who completely get anxiety and depression, because they suffer from it too. I was never comfortable telling people I have anxiety until I met someone, whom I respected a great deal, who told me they were all screwed up too.
Since that day, I’ll casually drop “I have anxiety” into conversations (usually those laced with a bit of wine) if I have a feeling that that person needs an outlet. Surprisingly, nine times out of ten, my anxiety-radar is dead on. I find that people drop subtle hints that they have those irrational, horrible feelings about everyday instances that they don’t know how to deal with. Sometimes they confirm that they also have disorders, and sometimes they just acknowledge the irrationality of it all. You don’t need to be diagnosed to know something is a little off. But believe me when I say that the outpouring of BFF-ness that follows the revelation is something that makes me feel like anxiety is a special club I don’t mind being a part of.
That’s a lie, I fucking hate it. A lot.
The underlying message I’m trying to convey is that talking to other people who are going through the same things is without a doubt one of the most precious weapons I have in my anxiety armoury.
The second thing I rely on is writing. I’ve kept various journals over the years, written emails that I never sent, and have found a lot of value in text message conversations in which I let it all out. Assigning words, however simple, to what I’m going through is a big part of healing from any particular disruptively emotional event I might be going through. It helps me justify and characterize everything. It helps me pinpoint what the hell is actually going on. And, once it’s on paper, it’s not glued to me anymore. The beast is released.
This page is meant to combine the two. I’ll start with the writing, and hopefully I will attract some other humans who are looking for relief, guidance, support, or just validation. If this site can bridge the gap between myself and the thousands of others who are lugging around anxiety, depression, or anything else, then I think it can do a lot of good. It is very simple math.
Alright. 966 words is enough for one night.