One more thing tonight….one of my favourite poems!

I finally tracked down the source of one of my favourite poems:

http://www.poetrybycharlescfinn.com/pleasehear.html

This is just such a perfect “everyman” sort of poem, but at the same time, when I first read it, it resonated with me so completely, it was like someone had read my mind or was living my exact life. When you’re an angsty, depressed teenager, that’s a big deal LOL.

Even today, when I read it, it still resonates and I still fully believe that we all wear masks, everyday. Not for evil intent, but just to make it through life in reasonable peace.

Looking back…looking forward…

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So my timeline is roughly this….not so happy childhood thanks to my mother’s many, many illnesses and the fact that I’ve likely had some degree of anxiety disorder since I was 5 or 6. Yay me. I finally had a professional tell me a couple of years ago, about the same time that my GP put me on Cipralex after a major crisis, “Ah, you have an anxiety disorder.”. Again, yay me. Mind you, once that happened, the lightbulb moment happened and looking back, I realized why so many thing were the way they were.

Looking back though after awhile, and really, looking back can be an awful idea, I started to wonder, how life would have been if I hadn’t had a childhood full of anxiety and youth and early adulthood full of anxiety and depression. What would I have accomplished then instead of waiting till I made it into my 40s? Wouldn’t life have been so much fuller and more enjoyable? Wouldn’t I have done so many more things and not hesitated, kind of like I’m doing now?

Safe to say, yes, I would have done far more things, had more adventures, met different people and generally been more of the person that I really, really wanted to be and felt like I could/should be. Not the person held back by fear, always afraid of looking stupid, always worried that other people would ridicule me and that I’d fail. The confident person that everyone already thought I was.

I realize though that everyone’s life follows a certain path and mine followed a path that led me to where I am now and that is actually a pretty good place. If I hadn’t been held back by fear, I probably would have finished my university program (or followed a different program completely) and if I had done that, I may not have attended the friend’s wedding where I met my husband. If I hadn’t met my husband, I wouldn’t have my son. I probably wouldn’t have a lot of the awesome friends that I do because our paths just wouldn’t have crossed.

Now granted, I could certainly have lived without all the crap that I’ve gotten through, but what would the cost have been? This is definitely a time when looking back, while often useful for putting things into perspective, is not a great idea for the “what if”. Looking forward, on the other hand, seems like a great idea :).

The Fear Stops Here…

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The Fears Stops Here….

Stopping the anxiety with my generation

Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree for sure. Although my son is like my husband’s mini-me on the outside, he’s my mini-me on the inside…poor kid LOL. As I am near-constantly reviewing my own childhood and praying that my son doesn’t experience half of what I did, I’m always afraid that I’ve passed “it” down. We hear how anxiety, depression, etc…. do have hereditary aspects. I realize too, that genetics aside, I have 40 years worth of learned behaviours that I developed to cope, but it is often natural for a child to mimic a parent.

I only found an effective treatment about 2 years ago, so my son had already had 10 years of me being me. I think I’ve always managed myself well, but it’s often the small coping behaviours that creep through. Like avoiding people. I don’t really do that anymore…much :), but my son would if he could. So, learned behaviour or his natural introverted nature?

Anyway, a while back I had a chat with him about the delightful hereditary load that has come down from my mother’s side of the family…anxiety, depression, alcoholism. Fortunately, he’s a bright, fairly mature kid, so we just talked about warning signs, etc…, but still, he’s a kid. Soon to be a teen (God help me) and that brings it’s own bucket of challenges both for him and for my husband and I.

Well, I’ll just watch him like a hawk, but I suspect the next few years will be interesting LOL!

Getting my thoughts out….

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Forty Years of Fear

Living my life with an anxiety disorder…that no one knew about.

After having so many conversations in my head, I thought I would finally spew it out to the world. I know there are people, lots and lots of people, out there who have lived the kind of life I have lived, in the mindset I’ve been trapped in, with some of the same regrets.

I sometimes, on bad days, find a bit hard not to be resentful that it took 40 years anxiety and occasional depression, to actually have someone qualified say “Oh, you have an anxiety disorder”. Lightbulb moment. Oh, so that’s why I’ve been the way I have since I was a kid. Well, that makes sense….to me anyway. It clearly doesn’t make sense to a lot of people who have known me for a long time and always saw me as an outwardly confident person. They didn’t live inside my head.

Keeping up the appearance of normalcy is a way of life because who wants to be the reject that looks afraid of their own shadow all the time or cries at the least dirty look. I remember how that played out in elementary school, thanks. Not going back there. Ever.

I was always a “sensitive child”. That’s what my mother would always say to explain to people why I was so shy. Why I didn’t talk to people much. Why I cried so easily. Or the parts she didn’t really know about…the laying awake at night afraid of…”something”. Always, constantly worried that “something” terrible would happen, but not knowing what the “something” was. The OCD to try to make myself feel better. That’s just what was said then.

They didn’t talk about mental health issues in the 1970’s, certainly not in children. Hardly a surprise that no one saw it for what it was. The stigma of mental health issues remains today; how could have been anything less all those years ago.

Even today, I find it interesting that although people are generally more open to the idea of someone having depression or anxiety or whatever, there are many, many preconceptions about what those things are , what they “look” like, how they’re caused and what fixes them.

There was a fabulous post on Facebook a while back about how people who didn’t live with it, perceived anxiety and mental health issues. Ironically, one of the first comments was from someone saying “you just need to change your lifestyle and diet”. Thank you for making our point for us. Needless to say, that was not received well by other commenters ;).

What I’ve noticed a few times, is when I tell someone that I have an anxiety disorder, I can tell they don’t really believe me. Why wouldn’t you believe someone telling you that? Sharing something personal, that leaves them open. Sigh. Whatever.

Like so many things where you have to live it to get it, there are so many misconceptions around. I guess that’s fair and at the end of the day, I guess I don’t really care. I’m happy to enlighten people if they’re actually open to it. Essentially, I’m so happy I finally have an explanation to why I felt so bad for so long and I’ve found a solution to it so I can finally be the person I always thought I could be.