Sunday, February 21, 2016

15 Things You Need To Know About People Who Have Concealed Anxiety

A Facebook friend posted this article, and I haven't stopped thinking about it.

15 Things You Need To Know About People Who Have Concealed Anxiety

That was me. All 15. And this author hit the nail on the head, articulating so many things that I've been trying to in my book. The thing is, it's really hard writing about that old stuff you can't articulate. It's not just saying, "I had a hard time traveling." When I was agoraphobic--and I was--I didn't know that I was, really. I just felt my world imploding around me. And I was so Type A at the time, that I was able to--for the most part--hide it.

And now that I have done some healing--and believe you me, I'm grateful for it because I realize some people never make their way "out"--it's hitting me all over again. Reading about those old feelings.

Sometimes things come up in my life that kind of stir up those old fears, old mindsets. I fear of relapsing. I fear of living with agoraphobia, and I fear living in a concealed anxiety cocoon. There is no healing in concealed anxiety, and you don't even know that because you can hardly think about managing your anxiety because you're holding on to it so fiercely so no one can see.

My days of concealed anxiety are largely behind me, mostly because I am more apt to be open and reach out for help now. Yet I feel the need to explore it again. Not just because I'm writing a memoir (named after this blog) but I guess it's part of my continued healing.

I couldn't see how sick I was until I got better. Now I see how diseased my mind was, and I don't know why I can't help but stare. Feeling grateful I'm no longer there, but feeling so fixated that I can't walk away. Kind of like when you pass a car crash on the road and you don't want to slow down and look, but you do.

Why am I looking? Why am I revisiting? What's there for me to see?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Il Volo.

I got to see Il Volo in concert for the third time last weekend. It was perfection--they always are.

I credit this group as one of the things that helped me find more beauty in my life. My therapist always used to say to find the good in life and to "inject" whenever I needed a shot of good, I put on Il Volo. In truth, I don't speak or understand Italian or Spanish but I love their music (some is in English, too). They are so inspiring. It is so beautiful...and for so long I didn't think my life would have anything beautiful in it.

So I bought tickets for mom, sis and I to go to Atlantic City. And I was happy because I never used to be able to sit with them in the car. We stopped for dinner before the show and I was so happy because that used to be equally as hard. When I was really sick, I wouldn't drive with anyone else, didn't go out much, etc. I had every excuse in the book not to go because no one was safe.

Oddly enough, I did have some anxiety that night. In the restaurant. I used to go there a lot because it was minutes from where I went to college. I love the place--why was I anxious? I was thinking about it when I was sitting there...and the panicky thoughts came over me. I used to order in from that place when I was anxious in college. Restaurants and eating out with mom and Danielle use to be a trigger, and then unthought of when I was acutely sick. But there I was, okay. Able to soothe myself, even when negative thoughts did slip in.
From there, we went to the Borgata for the show. Now, one of my worst panic attacks was in another casino (the Mohegan Sun) and I guess that kind of came back to me. Casinos are like mazes. There are no easily marked exits--in fact, my husband insists they build them like that so you can't get out. Not the place for a girl who has panic attacks when she feels trapped. 

You know what I did, though? I told my mom. When we were seated waiting for Il Volo to come on, instead of fixating, I began to speak. I never used to speak about my anxiety with my mother. I told her about that panicky experience and how I was feeling a little trapped. It was safe.

I won't say that there are certain "safe people" in life, but some you obviously just feel comfortable with. You know what I have learned though? You can never tell if someone is "safe" or close to it unless you speak. When I was sick, I was ashamed of my anxiety and I hid it from everyone. I could have done so many things but was afraid of having a panic attack and not being able to escape or have a safe person.

Therapy taught me to become my own safe person. That's why I am not so scared to talk about my odd phobias. If someone doesn't get it, that's their problem. I don't talk to everyone about my innermost stuff, but I try to be open about it. I've been able to connect with people so much more deeply when I share. I guess I'm healthy enough to share--I can say, "Oh, I used to have panic attacks over that (or still do)" almost non-chalantly. Not because panic attacks aren't a big deal--they are. But because there's a better place when you do The Healing and become strong. 

My anxiety isn't gone, but I can talk about it, tuck it away and enjoy the show. And that's just what I did.

Next time I go, I'm going to try to meet them. I need to say "Grazie!"