I haven’t been back to the tribe in so long, I’m grateful it’s still here!
I’m going through a tough past couple of months. I don’t know if it started because one of my best friends died, or because I’m just susceptible to falling into this anxiety / depression abyss.
I’ll start with my friend Jason. He was my college roommate. I had known him for almost 20 years. He and I both suffer from depression, so we always had that to talk about. Over the past couple years, he fell into several addictions. He relapsed again this year, and called me to tell me he was under the influence we he got into a serious car accident. I was upset he was using again, and when he told me he had bought a gun, I didn’t say anything, I just listened. He killed himself two days later. It was one of the most difficult funerals I ever had to go to. I cried, I spoke about him, and I went home and went back to work. I thought I was ok. But when the depression came back, I didn’t have him to talk to anymore. It left a big hole in my support system. I don’t think I blame myself for his death, but it still marks me – I felt he was more like me than any person I knew. That he could tell me I was ok, even when I knew he wasn’t, always helped.
So I went on with my life, every so often feeling sad and anxious, but able to bounce back. It’s funny how it sometimes comes back. It starts in little waves, in little doubts about how you’ll be able to deal with the next small amount of worries. A little at a time, I would tell myself maybe anxiety would take hold the next time I went to work, or the next time I had a social engagement. My inner confidence would successfully laugh it off. Sometimes my brain would think back to the “ridiculous” OCD thoughts, of knives and stabbing and fear of “going crazy”. I could usually laugh that off, too.
Then one night, going to bed, I considered all the anxiousness I had been through, and seemingly conquered. It continuously tested my established calmness and rationale that kept me humming for about a year. I felt fear come over me like a warm blanket (it literally feels warm), and it was back again, like Freddy Kruger. I took an Ativan, but the next morning I was tired and restless. Going to work was again a struggle. Old OCD thoughts reared their head, and laughing it off internally was not easy anymore. The difficult thing is, you can never explain to someone else what it is if they’ve never had it. It’s filled with countless doubts, like during a face to face encounter your face will betray you and let everyone know how miserable you feel. It was back, and I had other social events on my calendar I felt powerless to cancel. I had a trip to Vegas planned with family, and I didn’t want to ruin it by explaining how the blinking lights and sounds were the worst thing for me. It was a tough weekend.
So what’s wrong? Would staying a few days from home help? Not really. I should keep going to work, and find ways to calm down. I have a therapist and I am taking medication, although I’ve been hard on myself that I now rely on it again. In the past, watching movies would always help take my mind off things and calm down, but they were only a stopgap measure. Eventually, my mind would know I was avoiding something, and it would reappear. The best things to do have been my meditation practices. I would often tell myself I needed them, that I needed to continuously do them every morning, for the time I would need to draw on the resources of thinking about my breath, letting my brain stop craving stimuli, which includes the worries, the doubts, and the obsessive thoughts. It’s more difficult to do when I feel broken, and anxious. So here I am, considering old and new plans of attack, and wondering if and when I can stop this and finally begin my life. (I know, life is here, enjoy the moment, even with OCD). But it’s difficult. Jason is gone. And Jason’s death instills fear that if I was just like him I would fall just as he did. But everybody is different. And life involves death, and love of life and living can and only does appear in spite of that. We have moments to live. And even the anxiousness and sadness I feel right now is a moment I want to feel grateful for and calmly accept it as a gratuity for getting to wake up another morning, have the opportunity to make breakfast and watch the people jog while I drive into work. Anxiousness can go away. It did for awhile with me. I just have to be patient.