Go Forth, Cappy. You’re A Man Now

Today was a day rivaled only by the day my dad taught me how to spit properly (the key is in the tongue placement…I think).

I drove a total of 150 miles to interview for a position at school with the office of alcohol and drug counseling, assessment and prevention service. The position was one for undergrads who would assist graduate psychology students with their outreach, etc, in the school.

I was so scared, and probably for no reason. I didn’t know what to expect (other than those top 10 interview questions, which I’d fully prepared for) and didn’t know how the interviewer would like me, but once I got there it was like I’d been meant to have the position my whole life. I realized I was born to talk to people, and if I just say what I really feel, what I’m passionate about, people tend to connect. So I got the job, guys. I did it. I really freaking did it.

I came home and went on a ride as soon as I could, because the amount of nervous energy pumping through my brain was getting a bit overwhelming…I say nervous only because I was so excited I couldn’t handle myself. Get it? Handle? Bike handle?

Yeah, terrible pun.

Anyway, I don’t consider anyone a great cyclist in my area unless they can bike up The Hill of Death, as I like to call it. It’s incredibly steep, pretty long, and really curvy. Plus, it’s actually got quite a bit of traffic, and the speed limit is 55 mph there. And there are those rumble strips in the middle of it, so if cars are nice and give you room, you practically fall off your bike with shock from the noise. I’ve never ridden up or down The Hill of Death. I have been perpetually scared of it and refused to go anywhere near it, for fear I’d make it down but not be able to get back up and be stranded forever in the middle of nowhere.

But for some reason, I decided to take it on. And after a mini heart attack when someone honked at me (please don’t do that), I made it. Y’all, I made it up the hill! Funny thing was, it wasn’t even that hard. The hill that had scared the living daylights out of me for 5 years was a piece of cake compared to some hills I’ve taken on. And I felt so silly, because I’d been worried about the unknown for so long, but at the same time I felt fabulous…I learned something about myself and that hill. I can do just about anything, no matter how daunting. And y’all, I do it with style, fingerless riding gloves and all.

I think some really cheesy things while I ride, usually about the meaning of life and other broad, vague concepts. This afternoon, I realized there was a connection between that hill and my interview this morning…and life’s challenges in general. There’s always something that’s unknown, scary, daunting. But once you tackle it head on, straining up the hill until your legs are on fire, it’s not so bad. Usually, you make it to the top just in time to see the wheat dancing in the wind.

Today I felt invincible, and so I was.


The Truth About Anxiety

There’s only so long you can take anxiety before it makes you loathe everything around you (and everything about yourself). Because there’s only so long you can beat a dog before it bites back. But where do you direct the anger you feel toward anxiety? Who do you bite? All the anxiety, everything that makes you hurt, seems to be coming from inside you. And it starts to eat at your insides, causing you to want to rip them out, throw them across the room, and scream. Imagine that: ripping your guts out and just chucking them 10 feet, seeing them splat against the wall. Imagine that actually being satisfying. That’s what anxiety does. Even though that image is disgusting, it can be preferable to letting that horrible, clawing feeling stay inside you. 

Or there are the times when you feel guilty for feeling sorry for yourself at all. You don’t have cancer, you’re not really going to die, and a lot of people don’t even think anxiety is real. With everyone doubting you, with you doubting yourself, it’s hard to feel sympathy for yourself. When you ask yourself Is it okay that I feel this way? Is it okay to cry because I want it to stop? Is it okay that I don’t want anyone with anxiety to sympathize with me? Because why the hell would you want to commiserate with some other poor sap who also hyperventilates in the middle of the night when you can’t even “commiserate” with yourself? Odds are, you see yourself as weak for letting the anxiety get to you in the first place, so you’ll likely not want to blabber about it to others.

Sure, you say you’re open about it. You tell people you have an anxiety/panic disorder, but you’re so cavalier about it. “Yeah, I get really anxious. I have panic attacks. They’re scary.” But you never go into the heartbreaking/gut wrenching details. “I used to think I was going insane” or “I automatically think I’m unsuited to be a parent whenever I have an attack.” Because talking about attacks, and what they do to you, terrifies other people. No one likes a psycho.

Attacks. What a way to put it. Accurate, yes. Possibly dramatic? Sure. But not really. Everything you’ve ever hated throws itself against your heart at once. Every unknown that ever scared you jumps out of the bushes again. Every bad memory, no matter how deeply buried, troubles you once more.

But it’s all you, all inside you. And unless you rip your guts out and sling them across a goddamned room, you don’t know how to make it go away.

Every single person in the world needs to understand this, because I’m sick of hiding myself to everyone else. Sick of having to pretend that everything is fine, sick of skulking off into a dark place so I can flip out in solitude. Not that I’d want to have another panic attack in public, because that’s more traumatizing than anything else I’ve experienced. But I don’t want to feel like it’s this big secret, like I’m some monster that comes out at night. It doesn’t mean I can’t function in normal society, it just means that sometimes I can’t function within my own head. 

When nobody else understands this, or maybe they even act like you’re being dramatic and lying to yourself, it’s hard to get better. So I’m getting better through therapy, because psychologists understand. 

There’s no one to blame for the way that my brain works, and that’s including me. I am not to blame, because I do not do this on purpose. So I guess this is sort of an education session for y’all: People with these problems aren’t being dramatic, and they deserve support, not skepticism. 

So go out and accept everyone, my little muffins! I know how wonderful you all are, and you give me support on a daily basis. Go do good for everyone else.