The Trinity

Depression. Fear. Anxiety.

2016 has been a really tough year for me. I’m used to tough years, used to struggling with the depression, fear and anxiety that have been a part of my life for so long. I’ve been working hard to learn to manage but it’s hard, and I’m not there yet, so things are still challenging.

Over the last few years I’ve learned a lot about myself and my illness. I know that my depression is a combination of many things but much of it can be traced directly back to the sexual abuse that happened in my childhood. It’s not easy to look at symptoms and behaviors and accept that so many of them are predictable given my experience, but it’s true and I guess understanding them is a part of living with them.

This year seemed particularly difficult though. As 2016 inches toward its end I look back and I’m not pleased with much that transpired over the last 12 months. I’ve been ridiculously unproductive, I am concerned about my lack of understanding of the world around me and my complete lack of patience with others.

It’s the year we lost Bowie, we lost Prince, we elected Trump, I withdrew even further than I had in the past, I disconnected from nearly everyone and my faith in my fellow man has fallen to its lowest levels. I can’t stand to even think about the world outside my home, it’s bleak and it’s depressing and each instance of hate and racism that I see makes me hate it even more.

Most days it’s hard to accomplish anything. I manage to get myself out of bed but only so I can get to the couch. I struggle to find the energy to complete tasks, to find the inspiration to create something, and while my mind is actively doing what my mind does, very little of it actually turns in to something useful.

So it’s been a year, a not so good year, but I made it through it. I’ve continued my 100% success rate for getting through shitty days and shitty years so that’s good I guess. Some people say things like “I’ll be so glad when this year is over” and I guess I think the same thing, although to be honest I don’t really anticipate next year being any different, or better. So another year will pass and I will struggle and I’ll likely feel the same way at the end of next year.

In the interim I will spend my days with my wonderful wife Gina and our two wonderful feline boys Eggs and Cooper, and I will bask in the joy that they give me, the only real joy I think I feel anymore. They sustain me and I will continue to live for them.

Photo via Flickr – Christopher Paquette CC Attribution 2.0

Panic About Panic

Sometimes a panic attack isn’t so much about encountering the thing you fear but rather the fear of not being able to control your response should that happen.

There was a show at a Wrigleyville bar on Saturday and I really wanted to go. I had a lot of time to plan for it but it was sort of a logistical challenge with times, train schedules, Lollapalooza traffic, etc.

As we got closer to the event, my brain started thinking about the opportunities for things to go wrong, for things to throw me, things to make me panic.  Eventually, the panic began, panic because I was sure I was going to be confronted with something for which I wasn’t prepared. I don’t respond well in situations like that. I freeze. I shutdown. I park and hyperventilate and then I turn around and go home and feel like shit because I wasn’t able to do what I set out to do.

Here is a list:

What if traffic is bad?
What if there is construction or a detour?
What if the GPS tells me the wrong info?
What if I can’t find the parking lot?
What if the parking lot is closed or full?
What if I can’t find another parking lot?
What if I get lost looking for another parking lot?
What if I mess up the bus numbers?
What if we can’t find a cab?
Do I really want to take an Uber and get in to a car with a stranger?
What if we can’t find the venue?
What if the venue is really crowded and we can’t get a seat?
What if people are loud and talk over the music?
What if people are drunk and rude?
What happens if we miss the train?
What happens if we can’t get back to the car?
What happens if I can’t find my way back to the highway?
What if traffic is bad?
What if there is construction or a detour?

It was overwhelming. It was horrible. My brain, once started, can’t be stopped. I tried relaxation, more planning, anything, but the anxiety still rises.

The solution, of course, was to avoid the situation entirely so we just stayed home. By staying home I wasn’t subject to any of those potential outcomes. Panic averted.

I also missed a really great show and the chance to meet some great people.

I’m not ok with that.

Photo via CC 2.0

“This is the perfect time to panic!” – Woody 

Here There Be Monsters

To you, anxiety is an ever present monster just waiting for you to show the slightest bit of fear. How could they know? Their closets are not open ended. Their neatly ordered stacks of things are not illusions. They’ve never swam in the murk in the Land of the Irrational. And they don’t understand why you can’t just make it stop. Don’t open the closet. Don’t go back there. Don’t fear. Don’t over think. Just turn away when you feel yourself opening the doors. It’s so easy.

It’s so easy.

Nothing is easy. Not when you know this place.

Michelle Catalano

Please read more here.

Photo Via CC 2.0