Now that I have progressed far enough with my anxiety/depression to actually have a life. I want to share with you a bit of my thought process when faced with anxiety. So I decided to start a series of blogs detailing current up to date encounters with how I personally handle anxiety.
So on August 27th, I went kayaking for the first time. Originally we planned on canoeing. all was fine… that’s what was in my head. That’s what I planned for. I was excited and ready. Although a little nervous because we were going with some new friends. I haven’t made new friends in such a long time. Anxiety began to question me pretty quickly that morning. Before it would have been the whole week leading up to that! Trying to cripple me with fear.
“What if you embarrass yourself?”
“What if you ruin the whole day for everyone?”
“What if you get really sick”
“I know you’re going to feel sick… what if your IBS comes back? How will you get to a bathroom… you will be in a river.
“What if you cant finish”
Plus a million other questions and comments I don’t remember. I affirmed to my anxiety with a sense of calmness. That’s okay. They are good people. They will understand, probably even be supportive if anything was to actually happen. If not I will still survive either way. The only force against me is fear. My anxious thoughts went quiet shortly after that. It tends to bother me much less now that I have control. Or rather I don’t give it control. Anxiety still shows up just as frequently as before, it just doesn’t push me as hard anymore, or force me into panic.
On the car ride to the livery I welcomed anxiety back again. I knew it would show up at some point after this adventure had begun. It was due to the decision to ride in the same car together.
“if something happens you now have 3 people you have to convince to leave. You don’t have an easy escape!”
“Don’t ruin the day I know your going to ruin it.”
“Don’t make them regret coming.”
No, its okay. I wont need an escape I can handle life now. We’ve worked on this. I don’t run away anymore. You know where that got us. Accept, face and embrace. That’s it.
So I did just that, I embraced the anxious feelings, took a deep breath and further addressed anxiety. Thank you for making me aware of all my worries. But I got this under control. Anxiety sat quietly in my mind for awhile after that.
Then we arrived at the livery. All was swell.. Until our friends decided they wanted kayaks. I was like okay, ya cool. Then my wife decided she wanted a kayak too. Oh no. hello again anxious thoughts. Something new, something unknown. Lets work this out.
“You know that means your going to be stuck in a kayak.. By yourself.. what if you panic and freeze.”
“What if you have a heart attack and cant get help or drown.”
“What if you pass out.”
“What if …”
I cut it off there. Ya? so what. I don’t care if I get sick or feel trapped. I can pull over and step out to show you I’m not trapped. If I have a heart attack guess that’s fate, but I wont I’m 24 and in good health.. relax. How would I pass out? Out of the millions of times I thought I would pass out, how many times did I? None. How many heart attacks? None. How many times did I choke to death? None. The worst that will happen is I will throw up. Big deal. I am not afraid.
Anxiety lingered on. We got down to where they load up the kayaks and gear. At this point my wife must have noticed something was bothering me. She asked me if I was nervous. I told her no I’m fine. I don’t like to admit I’m anxious out loud. With her knowing my background that would make her want to comfort me and cater to me. Don’t get me wrong I love that she cares about me but sometimes talking about anxiety in the moment makes it worse. Leading me to feel like a helpless victim. I had to remain strong. Even with all the progress I’ve made sometimes It still feels like walking on egg shells. One miss step and the ground could crack beneath me. At the same time I justify in my head It’s okay to be nervous. It’s how I respond to being nervous that matters. But I’d explain that to her later for now I have to stay focused. Anxiety remained in my head trying to fill me with worrisome thoughts. Trying to make me panic and back out.
“Hey.. you might have to sit next to strangers in the van. What if you puke on them.”
“You sure you want a kayak?”
“The life jacket might choke you. You know how sensitive you neck is. Look your already tugging at your collar. You’re choking already aren’t you?”
“What if you drop your water and have no drink. You cant go without a drink, you take one everywhere.”
“Did you bring a bag in case you have to throw up? Don’t puke in the water people are trying to enjoy. Oh you forgot a bag? uh oh. You use to carry a bag everywhere.”
Hmm, ya I’m tugging my collar so what. Ill be fine. Its a short ride to the drop off i wont get sick. Oh by the way I didn’t plan on wearing the life jacket anyways. So no need to go crazy on me, i’ll be fine. Also I don’t need a bag, I quit carrying bags like a few years ago. I haven’t gotten sick from being anxious in a long time. I’m past that remember? We’ve made so much progress. You and me both, together. We are one. I know you’re just looking out for me and thank you, but trust me. I got this! Just have a seat. Enjoy the ride.
We arrived at the river bank. Loaded into our kayaks and took off. We had a blast! Anxiety left me alone for the rest of the trip.