I woke up one morning with an unfamiliar feeling. Nothing was wrong. There was no sense of impending doom or general sensation that something was just off. To “normal” people this would indicate something positive. In fact, it probably wouldn’t register at all; that’s just the way things are. But for someone who suffers from anxiety, the absence of it — achieved, perhaps, through intensive therapy, holistic healing, medication (or a combination of all three) — can almost produce the same feelings that you have worked, wished, prayed to rid yourself from: anxiety!
So, that morning, I was left with a choice; one that I hadn’t been fortunate enough to make in some time. To accept that being okay was…okay.
That the sky wouldn’t fall if I didn’t ruminate over the countless things that could go wrong (my anxiety is mostly health-concentrated; amplified after the passing of my brother suddenly six years ago), and I could, in fact, rid myself of this cloud of doom that has haunted me for years.
Living without anxiety, paradoxically, can be a challenge in and of itself. This is especially true if you, like I, have suffered with it for years. Through reflection (and a host of other things I tried—methods that each individual must decide is right for them), I had come to realize that my anxiety had been a security blanket, a protection I developed in early childhood. It offered me control that I so desperately needed in a world of uncertainty shaped by constant upheavals in my home life that had shaped my perception of the world and how it is supposed to be (for me, that meant chaotic, unstable, ever-changing conditions, and always waiting for the “other shoe to drop”). A dear friend offered something poignant the other day that I’d like to quote here. It applies to not just anxiety, but depression, which often (and indeed in my case), go hand-in-hand:
“There’s a wild, and almost selfish, thing that occurs when working to overcome your depression. During your depression you may have been angry, or low, or indecisive, or acquiescence, or self destructive, or a bad partner/friends/etc…. You’ve wanted to escape. You’ve wanted quiet. You’ve wanted oblivion. And, there’s a point in this process where you to choose to live…and you go,’well, I’m here. What do I do now? I’m here. I’m going to need to find some kind of happiness in all this’ and when you begin searching for your light, your vitality, your fire, your happiness – that is when things really get difficult.” — Jamal Robinson
Now, being in a “remission” of sorts (as I truly believe that chronic anxiety and depression need to be reframed in a way that helps people to understand that most are never truly “free” from it), the real work begins, and that starts with accepting that being free of anxiety and worry will not shatter my world, and the blanket was never a protection in the first place.
And that, for now, is okay with me.