On a good day, I’m a handful to deal with. If you’ve ever seen the clip of Kristen Bell reacting to getting to see a sloth you have a slight idea of how I operate on a daily basis. I operate somewhere below a 3 or above a 7 on the emotional scale pretty much all the time. Growing up my parents use to say I just felt things bigger than others.
But as I got older I realized that those crazy emotions with no middle zone left me without coping skills for tough times.
Instead of being able to think through whatever chaos came my way like a typical person I would go into hyperdrive. Organizing everything around me until my bookshelves were not only organized by author but also by genre and book cover color while the kitchen cabinets looked like a well stocked shelf you’d see in the grocery store. The house would become immaculate because cleaning was something I could control and when things got overwhelming I craved control.
By college this inability to cope had gotten so bad I would over-schedule myself to the point of not sleeping and that was the wake up call I needed. I knew that something wasn’t right with how I functioned and it was time to get some help.
Help for me came in the form of a wonderful therapist. I will say, her first instinct was to offer up medication to deal with the anxiety issues I felt like I had and that made me a bit wary of returning for a second week. But once I explained that I didn’t want medication, I wanted to learn coping skills like “normal” people had, she never again brought it up and instead helped me navigate through tough times and develop the mechanisms I needed to survive.
I went to weekly appointments for maybe a little longer than I should have, but it was a comfort for me to know that I had that person there supporting me when I felt like life was spinning out of control.
Even once I “graduated” from therapy I was not cured. No one is ever quite cured of anxiety issues or mental health problems. We just learn how to deal with them and face each day hoping that the tools we have will get us through the moments of crazy. Or at least that is my opinion. Because despite feeling quite grounded, about 10 years after I initially sought out help I found myself spinning again and didn’t know how to get myself under control.
For someone that doesn’t have mental health problems, it is hard for me to explain how my anxiety issues make me feel. I often say that I am just spinning but I don’t want you to picture me twirling around in circles with my arms wide like a child.
Instead my head goes at such a quick speed I can’t contain my thoughts. I let minor issues spiral into overwhelming problems because I imagine every worst case scenario possible. And I pile so much on my plate that I can’t breathe because I am always thinking about what I have to do next.