Belly of the Anxiety Beast

After being so open with my last post, I thought about my overall well-being, and how far I’ve come. I’ve learned how to take care of myself emotionally these past couple years, but while it’s been wonderful and healing, it’s also been incredibly challenging. Self care, or the ability to do so, doesn’t just happen. It takes time, effort and the willingness to talk about the things you’re afraid of.

So, of course, let’s talk therapy.

There’s a little waiting area down the hall from my therapist’s office, and I always make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early to every session. On the fourth floor of a relatively quiet, historic and beautifully eerie building, my therapist’s office seems like a personal hideout. It is, in fact, the only place where I feel truly alone and content, because no one in my life knows where my therapist’s office is located. I’m able to be anonymous in this waiting area. I’m able to truly be myself, without any fear of judgement. I feel safe, even though no one knows my whereabouts. It’s just me, a couple of old, dusty office chairs, and a tasty cup of chai.

Initially, I was nervous* about going to a therapist. I’d had weird experiences in the past, resulting in a personal bias towards anyone who was going to tell me how to live my life, and also critique my choice in music while they were moonlighting as a country DJ…
But anxiety was getting the best of me, and late-night panic attacks were resulting in loss of sleep and the ability to focus. I was depressed, and afraid. I didn’t feel confident and ultimately, I felt as if I were made of glass, ready to break if someone didn’t so much as acknowledge me in the morning at work. The feeling of fragility, combined with fear, can be a monstrous beast. And I was in the belly.

Ultimately, an afternoon trip to the emergency room on Father’s Day, with my car-less father in the passenger seat and me gripping the steering wheel driving myself to the hospital, was the crudest wake-up call I could have asked/hoped for. I couldn’t breathe, and I thought I was going to die. It’s the most afraid I’ve ever been, the most fragile I’ve ever felt, and this was the first time since I could remember where I didn’t feel confident, or brave, or strong, or able. I had been given a heavy dose of antidepressants for that night, and it was recommended that my father check on me every couple of hours to make sure I was okay*. Having a parent check in on you as a grown up can make one feel helpless and, honestly, pathetic. I knew that it wasn’t a sign of weakness to feel this way, and I knew that I wasn’t screwed up, but I also knew that I needed help. Someone to talk to, to listen to me, without any bias, or parental/friend-based concern. I needed to share without worrying about feeling judged, or being told that I was imagining the darkness inside of me. I started going to a therapist three days later. And now, I find happiness, confidence and comfort in a little, quiet waiting room, because I know that I’m giving myself the love I deserve.

Similar to Sex, pt. 1, I feel like this post could, and may, have multiple parts. So, per usual, stay tuned and take care of yourself.

You matter.

Cheers,
Ariel

* terrified
* alive

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