*So, I promised you guys in one of my recent posts that with the coming New Year I would share my anxiety story, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. Sorry I am a bit late on it, it took me a bit longer than I thought. Without further ado, here it is:
It starts out pretty rough. I was a normal kid, and to be honest, I was a happy one. I had wonder, I had God, I had the faith of a child. Naturally, because I was one. At the pearly age of eight, my parents divorced, and I wasn’t happy about it at first. Like most kids, I didn’t want to homes or two families or really two anything. I was content with one.
Then my father moved out, and although I was sad about that, I started to get used to the idea of having two homes. Of course, living in two homes would be a whole other thing. The only home I ever knew I had to be separated from half of the time. This was not an easy feat, and my eight year old self cringed at not only losing a person for half of the time, but also losing a familiar environment. Everything was new, you know.
For everyone in the family, it was rough, as most divorces are. But it was especially rough on my father, who carried some hard feelings with him, especially since it was hard for me to transition to living with him half of the time. I felt as though someone was taking me away, somewhere that I couldn’t reach my family or my home, to someplace else that was different and new and not what my mind considered safe. For a lot of my life, I’d spent most of my days with my mother, as my father spent 8-5/6 at work. So spending half of my time with him for my days was an adjustment for the both of us.
My father wasn’t used to being a parent, especially not all by himself. To be honest, he didn’t know me very well. He was my father, but he wasn’t there most of the time to take note of my fears or likes or hobbies as much as my mother was. A lot of my time spent with him at first would involve doing mostly things he wanted to do, although I did get to do some things I liked to do, like watching pink panther or the inspector. Sometimes he took me to the gym and put me on the treadmill for twenty minutes, which I wasn’t used to doing and actually was not able to do at that point, in which case he got mad some of the time, especially when I’d complain it was too hard. A little later, he got a motorcycle, and we had to take rides together on it, even if I didn’t want to. He wasn’t so good at empathizing with my fears, and he made me do it anyway, even through the tears.
I don’t want to paint him as a monster, because he wasn’t one. I know he was probably trying his best to parent under the circumstances, even if he could have done better. In the words of Seth Haines, “Sometimes we do the best we know how.” My father grew up in a house that was like that, that didn’t really show too much empathy when it came to dislike or fear, so I can’t really blame him for his parenting back then. He’d learned to ignore his emotions in a sense, I think, and that’s what I learned too. I learned to shovel them beneath me, putting his wants or needs on top of my own, making them my idol, my most important statute. In essence, all I was doing was pretending, and my life revolved around it.
Pretending to be ok is the most effective way of hiding, I’d say, especially if no one is going to do anything about your real feelings in the first place. It held for a long time, years in the making, until one day it was too much and I came crumbling down. The fear grafted its way into the vine of my everyday life, taunting me in numerous ways, showing me that I’d never really dealt with it in the first place. All I did was sweep it under the rug, and eventually, the rug became to filled with dust to perform. After all, we humans are not made to pretend to be ok, at least not for that much time.
I started having so much anxiety I could barely stay in school, and I was leaving early almost every day, if not every two days. I started going deeper into my faith in those days, and eventually got back to my childhood roots of relying on God. It wouldn’t be total surrender, because fear didn’t let me do that. But it would be a start. Through my whole year of eighth grade, I didn’t ever do a full day of school, I was too anxious to stay more than five hours. Luckily, I had many people helping me, including a wonderful counselor I’d gone to see before the school year even started, back when I was still managing to make it through most of the day. I got a 504 plan, one to help me manage my anxiety and still stay in school, started doing partial days, and started a dry run on medication.
The meds didn’t really work for me though. They gave me bad side effects, thoughts that were not pleasant (I’d rather not go into them to be honest, so I won’t), and overall didn’t seem to be helping my anxiety. So I stopped, and decided I’d just do it on my own. And I did, even if five hours was my maximum, I managed to stay for most of the time and was pleased with the growth I’d made. Along with a great therapist and a good school counselor, I also had a biofeedback specialist on my side, so I had great support. Then that year ended and with it came a close to many things, as well as an opening. With my other medications for anxiety, we’d often ended on bad notes. Although, to be honest, the doctors probably shouldn’t have given me so little time to try it out.
After only two weeks on one, they’d suggest another and say it wasn’t working. Medications, as I’ve learned, take longer than two weeks to perform well. Many side effects are temporary actually, and often go away if you are willing to wait three weeks. Anyway, we didn’t wait, and I had an abrupt ending to my era of trying meds, one I didn’t want to have to revisit. Until my therapist suggested we get a second opinion, in which we thought about over a few weeks span, then decided to do it. This time, it would be slower than I thought, and we’d meet someone who was more personal, more timely than the last one.
That’s when I started the medication I’m on now. It’s worked out well since we started out really slow in order to give me time to adjust to it. I still see the doctor that gave me it every three months for a recap, but so far it’s been going great and my anxiety is more manageable. Mind you, it isn’t all the way better and I still have some bad days, but mostly it is to the point where I can function more normally and not get anxious at every bump in the road. Looking back, I can see how God helped me to get on the right path, encouraging me to trust Him even when it’s hard. Nowadays the bumps don’t seem as big as they used to, and now they’re just challenges that I know I’ll eventually overcome.
So that’s my history. My relationship with my father is good, and he’s gotten better since my childhood. I still have to process some of the things that happened during my childhood and I do have some trauma, but it is getting better and it’s especially better since my father changed his ways. I still struggle with anxiety, and I’m not completely cured. But I take it one day at a time, taking good care of myself on the way and trusting God to make it all okay, even if it doesn’t seem like it will be.