06 June 2017

“Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion.” - Franz Kafka

In February of this year I realized that my anxiety had risen to an unmanageable high. Feeling hopeless, scared and broken, I sought help. I started counseling and in desperation told my counselor I couldn't live like this anymore. I told her I didn't feel capable of maintaining relationships, because there was a level of depth I couldn't get to. I didn't want people to know who I was or the things I was feeling, because the fear of having it held against me was too great. Before people could hurt me I would sabotage every friendship and acquaintance that I had, and I simply wasn't going to let anyone hurt me before I could hurt them.

Every possible fear in every possible part of my life escalated, and I felt like life was a ticking time-bomb waiting for my life to blow up in flames. I broke out into hives and literally lived each day holding my breath until something went wrong, and for the life of me I couldn't seem to grasp onto anything stable or steady. There was nothing in my life that was reliable, and I woke up each day fully expecting my husband to leave me, someone to betray me, and everyone to hurt me.

As I attended counseling every week, the words couldn't leave my mouth quickly enough. The tears were endless and the countless feelings that I had were finally in a safe space, with a professional who was a complete stranger and couldn't possibly be judgmental or bias of my situation. Every week I felt like I could breathe a little bit easier. There were things from my childhood I hadn't ever forgotten - let alone resolve, and criticisms I had believed my whole life became my way of life. I felt unfit as a wife, and I felt incapable of even thinking about becoming a mother. I felt like a waste of space; a tormented, helpless soul that was unworthy and undeserving of anything good in my life.

Things had to change, and with the support of my family and therapist I re-adjusted my medication and re-grouped. I starting becoming more aware of my triggers. I became more aware of my anxiety and what my body did physiologically when I was feeling too much. I took a hiatus from work and I started exercising more. I studied my scriptures more intensely, and I made self-compassion, self-forgiveness and self-love my number one goal. I intentionally reframed my negative thoughts and I reminded myself over and over again that perfection is unattainable. I came to a stark realization that the very pursuit of perfectionism is the pursuit of trying to rise above the human condition, and not only is that unreachable but inimical. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the culture inevitably at times gets to your head, and it got to mine. I started feeling this overwhelming amount of guilt when I didn't measure up, and when my anxiety interfered with my calling, my testimony, and my motivation, I was simply too discouraged to keep trying.

I had to let go. I had to let go of so many things. When my anxiety interfered with me failing to meet a commitment, I had to take a breath and remind myself that I'm still worthy. Imperfection is not a symbol of personal defeat but it is the natural lot of mortals, and I am better for it. I had to forgive myself for saying no, and I had to remind myself that I am responsible for my own well-being. If people identify my self-focus and self-awareness as being unfair, I have to remind myself I'm not always responsible for how things are perceived. For the first time in a long time, my number one priority was to understand my needs for physical, spiritual and emotional well-being... and for the first time in a long time, I could breathe.

I would like to say that this new-found steadiness and understanding will always remain with me, but I can't. I have been given certain limitations and weaknesses in life that are my personal plight in mortality, and it is up to me to cope with them the best way that I know how. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a tricky little thing. It feels so unmanageable at times, (as do countless other trials we endure) but there is a level of empathy and compassion that I wouldn't be able to extend so freely had I not been given this specific set of trials. I guess that's the important thing in all of this, really. To understand our given condition in this life and to treat it with mercy, patience and understanding, much like our Heavenly Father and Savior do. Then, I suppose, we need to embrace our many blessings. I am undeniably grateful for the core set of human beings I have in my life. They strengthen me, support me, and love me. I am grateful to live in this modern day and age, where resources for mental limitations are so readily accessible. I am thankful to know that no matter what obstacles we encounter in our life, we aren't foreordained to be ruined by them. Our potential as children of God is limitless, and with God on our side, failure never has to be an option.

So... we take the good times with the bad; the peace with the chaos. And we take every day, each day, one step at a time.