Friday, August 11, 2017

Viewing anxiety and life

When seeing my counselor this week, she commented on my anxiety being less. I was feeling quite tired, so I figured I just wasn't showing it. But then she commented on the difference between how anxious I was when I started seeing her compared to now. I've been thinking about that.

When I started seeing her, I was just learning to recognize anxiety and OCD and even depression. Now, I get that yucky anxious feeling and recognize it. I think, oh, no, another anxiety attack. I know that high anxiety does not have to be normal life. I know it takes extra energy and I can recognize at least some of the times that it interferes with what I would be doing if I didn't have it.

It goes back to the prescription glasses metaphor (which is actually its own true story). I think that my eyesight was pretty good when I was little; the eye doctor said I would probably need glasses later, but not yet. Time passed, and I went to a dance performance by a dance group from a different country. The music was not in English. Something was projected on screens - I think I even knew it was the English translation from the music. But I just assumed that no-one could read the words from the balcony. When we left, I said that I wished I had known the words. My oldest sister said, "You should have told me that you couldn't read it; I would have read it to you." I replied that I had assumed no-one could read it from where we were. I thought I had normal eyesight and did not know that I was missing out. Now that I have experienced the wonder of seeing details at a distance, I sometimes question if I am missing out again, if my prescription has changed much, too slowly for me to notice.

With mental illness, I used to think what I had was all that could be had. Then I found out that I had a mental illness and that life could be so much easier. So now, when I recognize depression or anxiety, I am upset with it, because I recognize it as an interruption. So it might feel like I am anxious more often, but some of that is just having learned to recognize it.

Tonight, I'm a strange mix of tired and emotional. I cried over a junior high movie about a girl learning to find her way in junior high and unintentionally making decisions that broke up her friendships. I'm not sure if crying over a junior high schooler's experience means I haven't grown up yet, or if actually, the dilemmas of junior high still follow us as adults. Making choices about fitting in, doing what people say, being used by people, accidentally offending people... But the girl in the movie had a happy ending. I'm in my late-night "wish there was a way to solve this thing I cannot even define" mood. Tomorrow, I have to get blood tests for my physical. Boring. But it means fasting. I used to get super anxious about that. Now I'm only mildly anxious that I'll somehow screw up the results by just eating pizza and carrots and apple juice for dinner (relatively healthy for me since it actually included a vegetable). And a bit more anxious that maybe my sore throat and tiredness and almost-achy-ness is from the beginning of a cold instead of the persistent smokey air that has been hanging around. Would that mess up your blood test? I was trying to look it up and then found out about a negative side effect that (presumably rarely) happens sometimes with getting blood drawn. I didn't read the article, just enough to know it looked scary. So I abandoned that research experience.

Interpersonal stuff. That is what I wouldn't want to write about with much detail, since this is a public blog. But I think about it. Scheduling with school and work. That sets my anxiety high since I value both a lot and my control is limited. But that isn't really interpersonal, except that more than just I am involved in it. Making friends, keeping friends, taking care of yourself, being "true to yourself." Okay, so it is like the junior high story after all. Life is not always simple. A few people might use you, some might treat you wrong, some are probably pretty good friends. A little forgiveness can go a long way. And I'm tired. I guess that about sums it up.

And now I'm hungry. The joy of fasting blood tests.