Sunday, September 25, 2011

Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival, and Finally, A Diagnosis!

So I'm sitting here at the local fiber festival. You know, all of the knitting, spinning, and weaving stuff and all of the critters that make this all possible.
Gorgeous stuff, and the yarn and fiber fumes will totally draw you in.

And I'm finding that all of the people aren't bothering me. All of the chaos and commotion is being taken in stride, and I'm smiling and I'm relaxed! And how different is this from the woman that just 6 short months ago suffered from debilitating anxiety with depression.
Debilitating. So bad in fact that I sought out the services of a doctor who specializes in such things. Not only debilitating anxiety and the depression that goes with it, but social phobias, and an almost bi-polar approach to changes in life. (note to self - changes in life are gonna happen - deal with it!) Except I couldn't. And I seriously did NOT know what was wrong with me.

Why was I driven to such frustration that I would lash out unexpectedly and probably undeservedly to anyone close. Why couldn't I do my job and be part of the team and get along with others. Why couldn't I have close friends. What was wrong with me? And the anxiety! That's what finally drove me to seek help.

And now, after 6 months of a battery of tests and counseling, the diagnosis is in.


Wait, what? Isn't that what kids have?
Yeah, kids have it but adults also have it. But adults are supposed to deal with the symptoms and the world doesn't so often see this.
Except when it's bad. Except when it's so bad, that the fear of being around people or situations that I couldn't easily control could bring on a panic attack and a rousing case of anxiety that would last for days!

This was so bad that I considered quitting my job. I tried to work at home but that wasn't best for my employers and co-workers (although I'm sure they didn't want me anywhere around any more than I wanted to be).
This was so bad that at the end of the day I'd go home and hide from the world. I didn't want the world to see this "me" that I had no control over. And I tried everything. I tried giving up caffeine and dietary changes. I tried meditation and yoga. I tried medication, small amounts and large amounts, over the counter and prescriptions. I tried being by myself. And I desperately tried talking myself down. Every. Single. Day!

We had no social life because I couldn't possibly go out with another couple let alone go be in public. Now there were good days, don't get me wrong, there were days that I felt almost normal. Almost. But never quite like I thought I should.

And I always just KNEW deep down inside of me that if I could stand face to face with this demon I could beat it down. If I could put a name and/or a face to it I could win this battle.
I tried, day after day to face the world and be like everyone else, failing miserably almost every day.
But I did have one thing going for me.... I never gave up. I never quit fighting this demon and I never totally let it have me.

Well, now the demon has a name, a face and a presence and this demon is going down. Educating myself has been key in understanding the cause and effect of the whole thing on the human mind. Medication helps, but I really believe just knowing that I'm not crazy, not stupid, not lazy, not any of those labels that I've lived with my whole life has been the turning point. Just knowing that there really isn't anything wrong with me and believing it. Realizing that this scattered, unorganized way of thinking and working is wonderful in and of itself.

My mind works differently than a lot of other people. Now I get that, and you know what? It's ok!
It's ok when I feel scattered. That's just my mind pinging around inside my head and trying out all of the ideas that run through like a freight train. Just knowing this lets me be able to stop that train, get off grab hold of those ideas and make some sense of the things around me.

I am very productive at work, always have been, but have never been the kind of employee that got along with all the other employees that didn't understand my brain style. I thought this was all my fault, and was led to believe that if only I'd "open my eyes" or "think before I act" everything would run smoother, but I couldn't. And I didn't know why, or how.

I certainly don't blame my former co-workers for not understanding my style of thinking and acting, how could they when I didn't? But now I do understand it, or am getting there. Now I know my trigger points, and I know how to re-route the train before it derails into whatever object I'm heading toward. I've learned and discovered strategies to deal with different situations that just 6 months ago would have sent me home hiding.

I now understand how to better keep my ducks in the same puddle so as to be as productive as possible, while maintaining the creative pinging that keeps me going.

And I'm not done yet. I'm still learning and trying different things on. I am now so much more comfortable with people that I don't dread going out in public. I'm still fairly quiet, and still shy but I'm not afraid any more. New situations stimulate my creative senses now, rather than send me into hiding. Changes in my routine don't send me spiraling down into the black hole anymore. And that is soooo cool!

And this year was the best fiber festival ever and I truly enjoyed it. And maybe, just maybe, someone will see this post, think of someone they know and maybe suggest that they do some research.

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