I am not okay. I will definitely be okay, but at the present moment, I am not okay. Truth is that none of us are 100% okay. Not all the time. There will be days that are so amazing and good times that make your heart soar and your smile widen, but those days don't last forever. I am grateful for those days and just because I embrace my negative days as I do my positive ones, doesn't take anything away from the good. It's just the truth of life. There is always change which means there is always a 50/50 chance of lows here and there.
I was talking to my coworker the other day about social media and how everyone presents their very best self online. It's not a real representation of life on a day to day basis because it is the highlight reel of all the good moments. She and I both agreed that we like to give a more well rounded approach online. One where we share our struggles as well as our triumphs and we share our boring days as well as our excitement filled days. I explained that when I've done so, some have called me negative and that presented another piece of the problem. If you watch social media comments, you will see that there are people who are going to tear you down for any way you slice it. No matter what you stand for, no matter what you say, someone is going to see it from the opposite side of the spectrum. So, in the end, all that matters is what you want to be known for.
I want to be known for telling my life story from all angles. I love to post pictures of happy times and trips with some of my favorite people: my Mom, Gma and Paul, but those are just like shooting stars in the broader night sky of my life. The stars stuck in my night sky are memories that stay there to keep you striving for more shining moments, but behind all that is a dark sky. All the failures, all the tries that didn't pan out, all the tears, all the heartache and all the downs in life are lost in that dark canvas of night. When you search on Facebook, you see star after star after star and if it's something happening right now, it's a shooting star. We need to show a little bit more of that vast dark. The dark is where character is built. The dark is where you create a star which adds a little bit more light to your world. It's NOT a negative thing. The message that we should all show our best sides, best selfies (that took 20 minutes to get the lighting just right), best days is just a disservice. That message, "put your best face forward," means that there are more than one to choose from? I thought being two-faced was a bad thing?
I had a panic attack (a pretty good one) on Friday night when going to see a movie. My favorite theater, sitting on the end of an aisle, but mid way through the movie, I couldn't breathe. At the time, I didn't want to ruin Paul's experience, so I just ducked out to go to the restroom. I didn't have to go to the bathroom, but it was the only quiet place that I could dab a little water on my face and breathe. It took a couple minutes to calm down. I missed 2-3 minutes of the movie and that really bummed me out. Paul was so great and whispered any missed plot to me, but I was still uncomfortable and I've never felt this way before. If anyone knows me, my ALL TIME favorite thing to do in the world is to go to the movies. So, this is why I am NOT OKAY.
I've had anxiety and panic attacks from around March of last year (2017). I had taken a promotion and the job and the situations in place at the time were so high stress that I developed anxiety. I went to the doctor and she diagnosed me with acute anxiety and borderline depression. (I've been battling depression on and off for over 15 years) She prescribed me pills that made me feel worse than the anxiety did and so I've just been trying to manage it with other remedies such as breathing, oils, meditation, exercise, etc. What I've come to realize after this latest episode on Friday night in the movie theater is that my anxiety and panic attacks are getting much worse. I have never had that feeling in a movie theater. A couple weeks ago, I had that same fearful feeling come over me just playing cards with family that was in town. I had to excuse myself a couple times just to go to the bathroom to breathe. I have had it happen to me in the grocery store or waiting in line with people standing just a little too close. At the dollar store a couple weeks ago, I just got out of line and left all my stuff in a display at the front of the store. Paul was so kind to go back in later and buy it all for me. I have anxiety in meetings at work and even at fun activities like potlucks. I have to find a seat by the door and preferably, "can we please just leave the door open?"
It's not a feeling of possibly being put on the spot or that I'm not capable to answer questions or unqualified. I feel very secure in my work ability, my knowledge and I've never been one (at least not in the last 10 years) to be too scared to talk in a meeting. So, "what is the problem?" is the common question asked of me. It's a fear of the unknown space. The room and its dimensions, maybe claustrophobia in some aspects. Will somebody sit too close to me and box me in? Will I feel stuck? I already feel stuck because the meeting is from 1pm-2pm and so I have to be in that same space for one hour. If I'm talking or engaged in taking notes or doodling, I'm semi-okay, but if the other people in the room are talking and there's nothing else for me to do, but catch a glimpse of the clock or think of how small my chair is or how warm it's becoming, I will lose my cool. I take peppermints with me everywhere I go. They help me breathe deeper and the peppermint is a natural remedy for upset stomach. I take "Peace and Calming" oil with me and rub it on my wrists and try to inhale the aroma and calm down. Each morning before work, I dab "Valor" oil (which they say is liquid courage) on my wrists and on the back of my neck in hopes that it will set me up for a brave day. Some days it works, some days it does not.
I'm not okay. This is not who I thought I'd be at this point in my life, but that's all about to change. I had an epiphany Thursday while doing a task that I passively took on because another person made it so known that they did not like doing said task. My epiphany was that I am a nice person and I do want everyone around me to be happy, but I never add myself to that list. I have given away power for too long. Not the ugly form of power where you control people or feel authoritative over them. I am NOT down for any kind of power in that respect. I'm talking about power to be myself, be worthy of respect and have my voice heard.
I am not invisible, I am not silent, I have feelings, I have struggles. I respect everyone else's circumstances, I feel for people, I cry for other's stories and my well of empathy is deep. I am still human. I lashed out a couple weeks ago because I had been keeping my feelings to myself and I couldn't hold it in anymore. I felt horrible, I owned it, apologized and things will never be the same, but that's life. That's real. We make mistakes, we alter our worlds and relationships, but our actions, we own them and apologize if we want any hope of having continued relationships with those same people we've hurt.
My main message here is that life is messy. Life is NOT Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Life is not a highlight reel. Share your ups and downs so that people can see a well rounded person and not feel so alone. The reason that social media has gotten such a bad rap is because it isolates people to their computer screens and they sit there comparing their present low moment with everyone else's highs. It can be toxic. You'll hear the argument that those people need to think differently or go to counseling. Why should we have to change for a few insecure people. Newsflash - we are all insecure in some way. I have yet to meet a completely secure person. Insecurities and flaws make us human and make us interesting. This affects more people than you realize. You don't have to post every bad thing that happens to you, but show some humility and growth of character. It helps more than you will ever know.
***Shout out of Ryan China McCarney for posting videos after his panic attacks and giving pointers how to get through them. We need MORE of that!***