I was travelling with a really great friend to Vancouver; we are taking in a play called “The Damage is Done” at the Cultch Theater. We were talking on the plane about anxiety, what I experienced, and how others may also experience it. We were also discussing my progress over the last 11 months, how they no longer feel the same worry for me that they did in the first part of 2015.
My travel partner and I were talking about how far I have come and that just about a year ago I was in such a tailspin. We both admitted that we were not sure if I was going to hit the ground and crash or not. Also that no one really knew how bad it was, even those closest to me were unaware. I was not myself, the Steve most people remembered must have got up and left. A year ago, I was not aware that my anxiety, fear, depression and self-loathing could get much deeper. I was wrong and in December/January I hit the ground, burying myself in what felt like into a 20-story deep basement.
We spoke about my journey over the past year, how far I have come and how far they feel I have come. I shared that not all days are good. I still get stuck in moments where all the crap in my head floods in. These thoughts and feeling do not linger like they did in the past where they could go on for weeks or months.
We talked about the anxiety; just talking about it brought those feelings back to my chest. The memories of last November came in during the conversation when I was hitting the bottom. It’s almost two weeks later as I write this and that same tightness is coming back.
I know the first time I felt that deep anxiety and was not really aware what it was. I know that my chest felt really tight and that I could not focus, I had to pull over. My heart was racing, my chest felt like someone had tie down straps wrapped around it and they were tightening it up. You could almost hear the clicking of the metal teeth each time it went a little bit tighter. I honestly thought I was dying right there on the side of the highway. The fear that enveloped my entire body had no rhyme or reason, it just was. I tried to attach it to someone or something to make sense of it, the more I tried, the more worthless I felt.
The topic of anxiety led to a story from my friend that happened almost 20 years ago. They were working in a recovery centre and had a client calling in that was supposed to be there the next day for check in. The client wanted to be at the recovery centre, he wanted to find recovery, a better way of life. But every time he thought about getting on that bus, anxiety would take over and almost cripple him. So, the senior clinician who was on the phone with the client said “I want you to go out and purchase a porn magazine. I want you to use it what it was intended for and then I want you to get on the bus and come here”. The client arrived the next day and the magazine was removed from his belongings, which he happily gave up to start his path to recovery. My travel partner asked the senior clinician why they told the client to buy that magazine? The reply was “It’s simple, you can’t be horny and scared at the same time. We just needed to get him here. If being horny took his mind off his fears and he found his way to recovery because of a magazine, it’s a perfect outcome”.
We continued our conversation on horny and scared; it led us to talk about relationships. We see people go from relationship to relationship without much of or any break in between. As soon as we are alone or have the potential to be alone, we get scared. When we are forced to look inwards we get scared, it’s hard and it down right sucks to look at ourselves sometimes. I know both of these have impacted in my past and as for looking in the mirror, I am sure I am not done with that one yet.
Please understand that my definition of relationships do not always include sex, there can be many levels of intimacy. But the statement about being horny and scared that my travel companion made rang true in certain ways. When I am sitting in some tough emotions my first desire is to reach out to someone. Maybe if I talk with someone I can get lost in the conversation and that way I do not have to face what I am feeling. I can just forget for a moment or two.
Now when I do reach out to someone, I chose someone who can hold me emotionally accountable, who will work through it with me and won’t allow me to avoid what it is I need to deal with. This requires trust, vulnerability and safety in the relationship, not always that easy to find from my experience.
There are times when lonely takes its turn; it says, “I need someone”, it says “people should not be alone”. I avoid listening to those thoughts, I do not want to jump into a relationship just because I am lonely or scared; it does nothing for me and will do nothing for them.
Keep chasing those cars
With Love Respect and Admiration.