There are plenty of secrets to be held. Plenty of elephants in countless rooms.
The thought of laying any vulnerabilities out makes my throat tighten and my heartbeat thud in my ears. Suddenly, breathing becomes a chore.
Sort of like anxiety.
Or exactly like anxiety.
But this is important and important things deserve time and care and space and kind words. Just like you. Just like me.
My freshman year of college was, at the very core, a blur of survival. I can clearly and acutely recall several moments where the weight of life was just a tick away from being unbearable. I was constantly dancing on the edge of clarity, my sanity a foggy mess that dangled itself in front of me, hovering just beyond the horizon. I clawed and grasped, desperately wanting to be ever closer, holding my breath and counting my tears. At my weakest, I just did not want to be anymore.
Let me be clear: I did not want to die, but I did not want to be in this life. It had simply become too much.
And this is where the anxiety festered and took root.
That year came and went, but my anxiety stayed. I attempted to cope on my own by smothering any anxious thought that entered my brain. My concentration and life's focus aimed at overcoming it by achieving.
Success was my antidote.
Avoidance was my mantra.
Do you know what antidote means? A substance that counteracts a poison. A poison. Anxiety, when left to run amok, is a dramatic and systemic poison to your mind and body. And this is how I operated - by running - for a considerable amount of years. My value was measured in mental strength; a stiff upper lip and sharp tongue. I don't think that it is much of a surprise that my tightly wound galaxy eventually imploded, collapsing in on itself.
I think it's vital to point out that I have never been cured of anxiety. And since we're almost down the rabbit hole, I might as well pull you all in for a tumble:
Things that seem mundane to some people can trigger years of obsession in me. Counting repetitive behaviors, while soothing, can become mentally draining. I tangle myself in compulsive loops over certain things (the garage door and my hair straightener). Social settings can be downright over-stimulating to me. Some days, I barely have a hold on it all. Some weeks, the really bad ones, are peppered with intrusive thoughts (those are fun), considerable amounts of coping skills, and constant reminders that I am neither crazy nor weird.
And neither are you.
Just know that I get it. If this is you... if you're reading this and you're nodding along, take away this one point: I. get. it.
I get you.