The Dichotomy of Dread and Excitement For the Unknown Future of Tomorrow

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I had a rush of overwhelming dread today. It’s not like my normal waves of panic when I have too many tasks before me, or when I have decisions to make for the future. This feels exhausting, frightening and sad – fearful of the days ahead, exhausted by the idea of making it through yet another week, sad that this hasn’t gone away.

The thing is, it’s fleeting. I might stop and think to myself “Another week of living this life until Thursday?” And then I’m back at the table, working on the computer. And I’m thankful for that. It’s just so intense in that moment of distress. It feels so strong and definitive.

I have been in a good place in a while, but I still feel exhausted by the prospect of life. Every day, even without clinical depression, takes energy, drive, and a lot of forced action against maladaptive habits. I fight rational and irrational fears from the morning when I wake up to when I lie in bed hoping to fall asleep. I don’t feel sorry for myself. Now that the medical depression is gone, I know that in due time, feelings pass, and if I allow it, so do my thoughts.

But every so often, I wonder if I have what it takes to make it. Is this week going to be like last? Is that good enough? What if it’s better, or what if it’s worse? What will that mean for the week after that? I felt this when I was clinically depressed, but in a much deeper, darker, and devastating degree.

So often in recovery, people tell you to take things day by day. When I was first starting out it felt like hour by hour, task by task. But now I feel the need to look at the week. And I’m being asked to make decisions in two weeks about something four months from now. If you asked me four months ago if I would be where I am today, I would have had no clue. So how am I to make a rational choice about four months from now when I have no idea where I will be, how I will feel, or who I will have become?

It’s such a weird feeling to dread the week ahead while at the same time feeling like I’m wasting the limited time I have on earth. I panic sometimes that all this work is for nothing. Will I work this hard and tragedy will strike and ruin me? Will my medications stop working? Will I push myself just a step too far and fall back down the steps of my progress to the very bottom? What if one day I stop progressing? Or worse, what if after all this work to find hope and seek moments of contentment, I just don’t wake up, or get hit by a car, or any number of things that happen to so many on a daily basis.

For so long I craved to leave this world. I had resigned myself to never getting better, my fire of hope was completely out. All of my dreams and fantasies felt like mean illusions – mocking me, taunting me, showing me what I would never have. And now, with life-changing decisions before me, I find myself timid. Or maybe just terrified to face the world outside. Out there, more decisions and their possibilities lie in wait.

Everyone keeps telling me they see me at a place where they feel safe for me, where they trust I can begin to live the life I have missed for so long. And I have tried so hard to gain that trust and understanding. But my fear of failure hangs above me, constantly threatening. And I know if I fail this time, no one will believe I could get back up. Especially myself.

The dichotomy in my head of both dreading and fearing (with excitement) the future is so odd to me. Everyone around me trusts me, but why can’t I? They believe in me, they see something there, but I can’t see it, I can’t feel it. I look in the mirror waiting to see the girl I believed was hiding behind the depression but my face stays the same. I have done so much and yet what if tomorrow I can’t or worse, what if I don’t want to? And how can each day seem like a challenge to become more whole, and at the same time seem like an exhausting future I don’t want to carry? And why, after more than a year, am I still asking the same fucking questions?

This will pass. I have thankfully learned that my emotions and thoughts do change. Even if I have them for a week, they can be changed, either naturally or by forced action. I just felt scared and exhausted by the notion of the days ahead. It’ll pass. I know it will.

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A Moment of Hope Passed Me By Tonight

ok this might seem weird, but i had this feeling just now.

i’m starting to think that deep down i’m a free-spirited person. not that i want to live in the woods, but that i want to be open to ideas and people.

i think i might like adventure, learning, and even excitement. I like exploring and being challenged. I like making people laugh and being there for them when they need me. i like trying new things, i don’t think i like permanent things or dangerous things, but i’m thinking on a smaller level – like changing to a different style one day, cutting my hair, changing my makeup. dressing up for halloween. wearing a skirt and working it.

I have dreams and desires that involve smiling and laughing and giggling. i imagine busy days and quiet days. i think i like pushing myself and getting that feeling of pride knowing i did something i was scared of.

when i was a little girl, before 8, i don’t remember a ton. but i remember that feeling like my head and my heart were just in a constant state of absorption. watching my parents, my siblings, my classmates, my teachers. arts and crafts, books, and boys. i think at the core, i was fire. like my sign, deep down, my leo was alive and roaring.

i’ll always know i’m imperfect. i know i will always fight societal pressures and question my decisions. i’ll probably always wonder about if i had turned right instead of left. i’ll wish my legs were longer and my nose skinnier. i will still cry because i don’t know how to change ignorant people and eliminate hate. that i can’t do more. that we are not learning from history and so indeed, we are repeating it.

now life didn’t turn out that way. i started to see all the bad around 8. then at nine my father got in an accident and lost his arm and became a very angry person. my siblings followed there paths and i was labeled quite and sensitive early. i always felt like i needed more, but felt selfish for asking for it. and so i turned in and i think those parts of me either died or wilted or just fell deep into the crevasses of my soul.

i just wonder: can you ever get that back? can you ever have a sense of wonderment? can you retrain your mind to find scary new things exciting, not anxiety-inducing to the point of fleeing the scene? can you go back and find parts of yourself and free them?

honestly, i don’t think so. but just for a moment, about five minutes ago, it felt like i could. and it was amazing.

Problem: Anxiety. Solution: Fuck it.

**Thanks to Moxie for making this for me! It’s definitely my life motto.**Image

I have been anxious my whole life. It’s a part of who I am. I worry about people in my life being happy, getting hurt, or dying. I worry people will stop loving me. I worry I won’t be funny, loving, or “enough.” I worry I won’t have a job I love, a man who loves me, or amazing friends by my side. And hey, most people worry about those things.You know, those big, unknown, life-changing things. Why wouldn’t you worry? If any of those things happen or don’t, it’s going to suck.

Still, the anxiety I can’t handle is the irrational, nonsensical one that takes a coffee date with a friend and turns it into an agoraphobic depressive episode. It makes me unable to buy things like toilet paper or feminine products because I worry the person checking me out or in line behind me is thinking how disgusting I am. It’s anxiety that if I go to a movie, I might have to pee, and if I go to pee, I might miss something good. Or maybe I’ll be loud leaving the theater to pee and someone will yell at me. Sometimes I’m anxious at the idea of watching a movie or a Broadway show because it might be so outrageously good that it’s overwhelming, and so I worry. Honestly, looking these over I have to chuckle at how ridiculously asinine these “worries” are.

After all, as the book says, everybody poops. And everybody has to pee during movies (especially when they’re three hours long and you are doing your best to get your eight glasses of water in.) And maybe what I think is anxiety is really just excitement but my body is so used to assuming that those physiological symptoms are psychologically signaling me to panic, that I assume it’s anxiety rather than happiness and excitement.

So what’s a nervous girl to do? Well, the other day I went in and bought feminine products. I was nervous and starting to panic. I almost took a Xanax but then I just thought: fuck it. (I have a feeling this is my version of my brother’s ever-effective philosophy: “it is what it is.”) I’m binge-watching this really good show on Netflix and I’m already nervous about it ending and not knowing what to watch next. Normally, I would just stop watching, but I’m going to finish it because you know what: fuck it. And I still haven’t quite perfected this “fuck it” mentality yet, i.e. I still can’t go to a movie at a theater, which used to be my favorite activity. And that sucks. I still sometimes randomly think about someone I need in my life leaving me and I want to crawl into myself and scream, but I try to take a deep breath and distract myself with something boring but time-consuming.

But you know – it really “is what it is” at this point. So, altogether now….fuck it.