I was speaking with an old friend the other day and she said I was her hero for taking on so much in my life and still maintaining my cool. I simply shrugged and and just said thanks, but in my head I was thinking, “I am nobody’s hero”. Why would I say this to myself? It was not to bring myself down. It was simply me looking at my reality and the perceived reality seen by everyone else.
I recently became a Ph.D. student with a graduate assistant position to help pay for school. I workout 3-5 days a week. I have a full time job as a Gifted and Talented Coordinator. I am wife to an amazing man who supports me more than I realize. I am a mother to an almost three year old sassy little girl. I have another part time job at the local mall. I have two pups that keep me grounded. Then all the added responsibilities of just day to day life- cooking, cleaning, washing, drying, etc.
This life sounds chaotic right? It sounds like I should probably look at dropping a few things off my plate? Are you thinking: is this woman nuts? Well yes…I feel this way most days.
I suffer from anxiety. My anxiety comes out in very different ways depending on the situation. Social situations where there are a lot of people and it’s noisy- I lose my ability to hear well. It sounds like everyone is in a tunnel. When I am called out in front of a group of my peers at work without notice- I lose feeling in my hands and I start to sweat. When I am presenting in front of people I don’t know well- my voice shakes and noticeably. Plus I blackout, not pass out, I don’t remember anything I said or did during the presentation.
However, my anxiety also causes me to be very “type a” in all areas of my life. I make everything on the outside of my world look perfect because my inside world is full of chaos and darkness. It’s a lot of work but my anxiety tells me it has to be done this way. I have to make my life look perfect to the outside world, it’s not a choice. My house is clean- always. My daughter’s toys are put away and organized. My meals are prepped for the week. My daughter and I have our outfits picked out for the week. I have a set schedule for naps and bedtimes. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the things I make sure are in order to satisfy my anxiety.
Those of you that have anxiety like me you may understand the weight of that last statement- “satisfy my anxiety.” I cannot turn it off. Once my anxiety wants to focus and obsess over something I have to stay there until it’s done. For example: I woke up at two in the morning and stayed awake thinking about all the things that could go wrong with work, school, my daughter and all the things from my past that I messed up until my alarm told me I needed to get ready for work. Anxiety is not convenient. All I can do is find ways to persevere, when anxiety decides to show up.
So how do I cope? Well I have to exercise 3-5 days a week. I run, I lift weights, I do yoga. Yes it helps me stay fit and in shape, but I do it because if I don’t I would be paralyzed by my anxiety. I speak with a counselor twice a month. She helps me see how my anxiety is affecting me and my relationships. There is a stigma around seeing a counselor still, but I promise you if you haven’t tried it you need to. I write as much as I can. I have produced many a poem, story, or quick observation due to my anxiety. It is sometimes the most therapeutic tool I can use in the moment. I also crochet. The movement of the needle in each stitch is another moment of my anxiety disappearing.
While I may look like I am super woman, and there are days that I do feel like I conquered the world, I am nobody’s hero. In a way I am my own demons, my own arch nemesis as every hero has one. I have my own demons just like any hero has theirs.