The Other One…
In October 2017, after many years of dancing in the dark, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
A formal acknowledgment of what I’d known for a long time, I suffer from depression. The Big D and me, rocking along, singing our miserable song.
Do you see what I did there?
I jumped on the depression bandwagon and the two of us set off into the sunset to begin our journey of medication, therapy and all sorts of other crazy nonsense.
We’d probably have left anxiety on the side of the road if he hadn’t stowed away somewhere in mental illness economy class.
He was happy to let D and myself ride business. It’s often been like that on the journey the three of us have been on.
I wrote a post once called, ‘Anxiety, Depression and Me’. If I’m honest, although a lot of the issues I referenced were, at least in part, anxiety related, I was only really writing about D. No wonder anxiety is rabbit punching away at me now, I obviously annoyed him back then. He will not be ignored anymore.
Depression has the profile, the charisma and the scary consequences, so it’s the one I fought hardest, the one I wrote about over and over and over and over again. It’s the one I now work hard to control everyday (most days, some days..) so it doesn’t control me.
Of course the reality, as it is for many people, is that depression and anxiety are like Laurel and Hardy, Dempsey and Makepeace or Plug and Hole. They come as a pair, they fuel each other and they compete with each other for your attention.
I’m sure for some people, for loads of people, they know their anxiety rules ok. For me, it’s only now that D is taking a break, that I realise how much anxiety likes to sneak around in the background and fuck me right up whenever he gets the chance.
Of course I help him more than I should. Drinking too much gives him a platform to perform, so does excessive sneezing, not enough sneezing and being around people. Especially people who are sneezing.
Like D, I don’t think anxiety comes as a one size fits all. For me, it comes as a foundation where I’m pretty much anxious at my very core most of the time. This is generally manageable and I’ve developed cunning strategies; e.g. hiding away from the world, drinking and sneezing.
At its worst, I struggle to breath, my eyesight becomes blurry and general feelings of nervousness become those of fear and paranoia. I also grind my teeth until my jaw hurts and I get so tired it physically hurts.
It makes me a selfish waste of space, an irritable piece of work and an irrational so and so.
I become unable to stop myself throwing hand-grenades at my own life. To date, although some have fizzled, most of these have failed to explode fully. It’s only a matter of time.
On the flip side I think it’s also helped me be more empathetic towards others, increase my own self awareness and make me better looking.
The last one is obviously a joke although I was proud to be the centrefold in a recent addition of ‘Basket Case Monthly’ proving, beyond doubt, that beauty is in the eye of the deluded.
Do you know that sometimes, even on the bad days, I still manage to get up, do stuff that people need me to achieve and fool the world!
I did that today. In your face world!
Despite the flaws, some I can blame on illness, some I really can’t, I’m also pretty amazing. Obviously I’m the only one that knows it and I’ll never be able to really believe it because that’s how I’m wired. This makes me anxious.
Here are some other things that make me anxious (just so you know):
1. Making lists about things that make me anxious.
2. The run up to working away from home.
3. The run up to coming home again.
4. Run ups.
5. The idea of ever having to get a proper job again (this is bordering on an irrational fear).
6. Crowds, i.e. more than one person (inclusive of myself).
7. Not being enough for you.
8. Not being enough for me.
9. The inevitability of it all.
Weirdly, the song ‘Anxious’, by the Housemartins, actually calms me down, although thoughts about what happened to their original drummer can have the opposite effect if I’m not very careful.
If you’re an anxiety sufferer then I know that whatever you achieved today, big or small, then it probably wasn’t easy. In fact, it was probably extremely difficult. This post is for you because you definitely are amazing. Don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you anything different.