Friday, March 14, 2014

My old life

Going through a severe and debilitating episode of Generalized Anxiety Disorder/Panic Disorder/Agoraphobia has been a grief process of sorts in many ways for me. As I've said before, I was severely depressed in the year leading up until all of this. Apparently, I was a champ in putting on a good front - my parents, coworkers and friends pretty much had no idea and thought my breakdown came out of the blue. Only Mike and a couple of close confidants really knew the depth of it all, and even they didn't really know until now. To an outsider, things in my life were pretty good - working in the field of my choice, making enough money to live comfortably, two years into a committed and faithful partnership with a genuinely nice and good guy....good physical health. And my mental state could have been salvaged with therapy sooner had I known it would be this bad. And now I grieve the loss of that life - the one I picked apart all of the time because I was depressed and had no idea.

Last year was a big one. Switched jobs, lived in three different apartments (all dreadful in their own right), health issues with both pets, reunited with an estranged and very important family member and mended fences with some important relationships that had long been neglected for silly reasons. All good stuff right? Yet I didn't appreciate it. I was angry all of the time in the year before my breakdown. I was angry at myself for "letting myself go" and gaining weight - back in college, I could eat anything and my metabolism took care of it. I was angry at myself for financial decisions I made and wishing I knew then what I know now.

Others were on the receiving end too, but most didn't know it. I was angry with my partner because we hadn't yet figured out an effective way to communicate with one another and it was really hard to do so due to working opposite work shifts. I was angry at my family and they had no idea. Angry at my mom for being a smoker. I worry that I will lose her every day. Angry at my dad for not keeping up with routine physical appointments. Jealous of my brother as he went through his growth process from college student to working professional - he lives at home with my parents and also did so in his years at community college and as an intern before graduation. I spent my twenties doing everything in my power to distance myself from my seemingly boring hometown and the dead-end it was in regards to professional opportunities. Now I yearn for those years back and for more time with my family and loved ones as the reality of human mortality finally hit me. For the past two years, I secretly would fear each time I left my family's home that it would be the last time I saw them.

More and more, I see Facebook blow up with separations and divorces (including my own, for which I was still angry at myself and my ex-spouse for), family deaths and other hardships. Reminders of all the bad stuff, and seeing the marriages and babies that I don't have...nothing good comes of Facebook except an increased awareness of current events and the ability to communicate with those that are far away.

So, I grieve for many things. The life I had where I was able to push away my anxiety and still function normally. Maybe long-term it wasn't a good coping method, but I felt self-sufficient. I grieve that I can't get the time back with my parents that I could have had when I wasn't plagued with agoraphobia. I grieve the loss of my youth in a sense. I'm not especially vain and don't care about turning 30, but I will never get those movie nights at Cinema 6 with my high school friends or the $2 You-Call-It Wednesday night drinks at Shorty's Bar in Kutztown with my RA group again. I have never been able to live in the moment, to soak it in and enjoy it. To relish in it and not worry about what I did/will do wrong.

I hope that through this whole recovery process, I learn the art of mindfulness and truly can start to appreciate it all before it's too late.


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