The black dog and the hyena are my lifelong companions. The black dog (depression) has bitten me a couple of times, and I feel that I spend a lot of time looking behind me, checking on how close he is getting as I walk along the path of life.
The Hyena (anxiety), well, he is a sneaky bugger. He can seem a long way away, but then – ZOOM – he is upon you, worrying away at you like a bone.
Currently the Hyena has me. It has been a long time coming, but he has gotten me and sunk his teeth in and I am not going to get rid of him by myself this time. So I am off to seek some additional help. My GP, maybe a psychiatrist, some reading around new therapies, some exercise and diet modifications.
I accepted a long time ago my anxiety, and I often use it to propel me, believe it or not, but I had only really contended with acute anxiety – a start, a peak and crescendo, and then subsidence. Normally associated around events and triggers, that I started to recognise, predict and manage.
This current flare up is persistent. The flutter, chest tightness, nausea, edginess, no obvious consistent triggers, none of my usual techniques of management and control are working.
I am exhausted, but feel like I am over stimulated as well. I cannot get past or focus on more than the superficial in any task, and struggle to make a decision, especially if right and wrong are not clear cut.
I’m teary, or I’m irritable and mostly I am scared that this is a precursor to another slide into depression or an acute ride into manic anxiety.
A wise friend told me that depression is all about the past, anxiety is all about the future and the present is where I need to find my feet. So I am busy trying this out. Staying present, staying mindful, acknowledging my anxiety, accepting it as part of who I am, but not who I am as the sum total.
I have also asked for help. This is a new tact for me, but hey, what I have got to lose?
I took a huge risk, and decided to trust a couple of my ‘new’ and dear friends down here. I told them:
“I have anxiety, I live with it, like I live with chronic pain and cold urticaria. It is a disease, and I currently having a flare up. If you want to, this is what you can do to help me….”
Each friend got a variation, more or less, over a period of a fortnight, of the information above.
One wonderful friend saw that I was stressed, and without asking, he made me a cuppa and offered me chocolate. He gave me space, and I vented and released.
One beautiful woman, I told my ‘back story’ to. I disclosed, and then told her about my current state of mind. She reminded me of how awesome I was, and what a great mother and human I was, and that it did not define me.
Another beautiful woman I told, and she demanded that she be allowed to help. She made me promise to seek her out, let me know she was a safe place for me and then thanked me for me being her friend?!
Yet another drove to my house before I could ask for help, and sat in my kitchen and just affirmed me. For 2 hours. While I cooked tea.
Another hugged me, and in her own gentle way, let me know she still loved me.
Now these dear and wonderful people who I have disclosed to did not step away, they STEPPED UP. I told them I was broken. This was their chance to run, run for the hills. And they didn’t.
I am floored. I am amazed and I am ever so grateful.
So, thank you Hyena, you insufferable bastard of a thing. As much as you make me suffer, by doing so, I am able to see the wonderful things and people in my life. Truly, without the clouds, how do you appreciate the full beauty of the sun? And you, my dear friends, are the sunshine in my day!