This is what anxiety looks like.

Today was any other Sunday. I got up at 7:30 and got ready for church. I got ready around 8:15, checked what time I needed to call and wake my husband up, and then headed to Heflin. I stopped in Oxford to get some breakfast (a donut- because, you know, I’m a health nut), and then hit the interstate. I was listening to a cd from years ago, and I felt good. I got to church an hour early, like usual, and started working on this morning’s hymn slides and sermon notes. I got frustrated because my video downloader wouldn’t work, but no big deal. I improvised and just played YouTube in the background. Church went great- Sunday school brought some good discussions with our kids and the worship service was inspiring. We went to lunch at my in-laws and then headed to Ranburne to see some of our kids in their high school band Christmas concert. We went to dinner, and got some ice cream (again, because I am just WILD about staying healthy) and then we headed home. I’ve worked all week, and so has Drew. We’re on opposite schedules, so off days are precious right now. We put on pajamas and curled up to watch some movies. I got up to get a drink after the first one. And I couldn’t put the lid back on the bottle.

I mean, I put it on, twisted it, and it fell off onto the floor. Three times. The fourth time, it went on, and I put the Mountain Dew back in the fridge, and I came into the living room. Drew had just started the second movie, and didn’t really notice me moving about the house. First, I picked up the clothes I brought in from my car. I just grabbed them all in a pile and threw them in the washer. Turned it on. Detergent. Then I grabbed the empty basket in the laundry room and headed to the bathroom. I picked up the clothes on the floor and threw them into the basket. At this point, I don’t think I realized that I was literally slamming things around. I threw some more clothes in the washer and let the lid fall shut. I came back into the living room, assuming I would sit down and watch the movie, and then I saw it- the mess. I had cleaned out my car today, and just kind of dropped everything at the front door to pick up later. Later meant now.

I was incredibly overwhelmed with the urge to clean up this mess that really wasn’t even in the way. I had to fix it. NOW.

I was frantic. I was pulling things out and making piles that really didn’t make any sense. I was trying to organize, but I really couldn’t. Drew finally realized after I banged some stuff together that something more was going on, and he intervened pretty quickly and got me my anxiety medication and calmed me down and we talked about what happened and I felt better. Afterwards I asked him to take this picture of me sitting next to what I had done before he came and got me.

This is what anxiety looks like.
It looks like organizing things in nonsensical piles and then messing it up and then doing it again and again.
It looks like angrily slamming things around without even realizing you’re doing it.
It looks like your husband telling your big, fat, black cat to go help you because you need help.
It looks like not being able to speak to tell your husband what is wrong with you and what you need him to do to help you.
It looks like not being able to take your medicine because your throat is closing up and you can’t swallow.
It looks like laying down on the floor in the fetal position and just focusing on that leaf so you can try to make sense of what is even happening in your brain.
It looks like your husband picking you up off the floor and leading you to bed to lie down, because he knows what’s coming next…

It looks like crying.
It looks like laying in bed with your hands over your face pressed against your husband’s side sobbing until you can’t breathe anymore, and him just rubbing your back and telling you it’s okay.
It looks like being dizzy.
It looks like apologizing.
It looks like shame when your husband asks what happened.
It looks like him crying when he asks if you were mad at him for not helping you clean.
It looks like him praising you on how well you handled calming down, which has taken much longer than 15 minutes in the past.

But it also looks like grace.

I realized tonight that people like me- people with mental health issues- need a lot of that. We are trying on those around us. We make it difficult to get through some days. Sometimes we are incredibly inconvenient. Sometimes we are rude, and hateful, and hurtful for no reason, and we realize it too late, and we don’t know how to fix it.

I am grateful for the support group I have. My husband was not raised with a great understanding of mental illness in general, but especially not the ones that I specifically deal with. He has stepped up and learned everything he can about my symptoms and what happens inside me when I cannot tell him and he has learned coping skills for the both of us so that I can come out of these manic states. I have friends who don’t necessarily understand what goes on as much as we do, but they try. They send me articles that talk about different ways to cope with my depression and anxiety. The BPD is harder to help, but they are also great at encouraging me to go to therapy and talk about what’s going on. They have learned that sometimes I don’t need a reaction, I just need someone to listen. They have spent the night with me so that I felt safe. They have come to visit me in the hospital when I could no longer take care of myself for a week or two. They have kept up to date with me on my medications and classes and whether or not I feel good or bad that day. I am so fortunate to have these people that love me and wish to help me, that forgive me when I become irrationally angry and yell at them or break something, that come to get me out of the car at 3 a.m. when I can’t breathe- let alone walk into the house to feed my cat- and that reassure me 100 times a day (even though it’s obviously annoying) that they will not abandon me.

I do not deserve the kindness of these people. I do not deserve their unconditional forgiveness and love. And they give it to me daily. These people mean the world to me. And somehow, even though I annoy and inconvenience and worry them, I know that I mean that much to them as well. It is a wonderful knowledge to have.

I love you all. Thank you. I couldn’t do life without you.



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