Many years later…..

Photo by Miranda Krebbs

Since being diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression, it’s been like a light bulb going off in my head. I can recognize the symptoms for what they are now, and talk myself down from the ledge of emotional free-fall.

This morning I woke up with a knot in my chest. My shoulders were tense. I felt a dark mood descending on me. In the past I would have just gone forward into my day with a scowl on my face and tears burning behind my eyes, not trying to understand why I felt that way, but just succumbing to it. Being on meds certainly helps keep those emotions in check, but even they are not enough when I spent a lifetime without coping techniques or medication.

But, this morning was different. I felt the usual physical clues to my disorder and began to think through them. Why did I feel this way? What was worrying or upsetting me? Then I realized I had a bad dream the night before, one of those dreams that are so vivid and real that you wake up thinking they did indeed happen.

Now knowing what was causing my mood, I shook it off and went to cuddle with my kids for a bit in their bed to wake them from sleep. Their sweet smiles and sour morning breath never fails to put a smile on my face as they rub their sleepy eyes. I felt the knot of tension begin to release.

When I was a kid, I had anxiety issues too. Of course I didn’t know that’s what they were.  Instead I was labeled a shy child, scared and skittish. Once I felt comfortable in my surroundings I opened up and was outgoing, well-spoken, and animated. But when I was uncertain I shut down. I hid behind my mother or sat in the very back of the class, hoping to not be noticed. I think some of my teachers thought I was lazy. My fears, particularly my fear of failure, kept me from shining. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Walker, told my mother at a parent-teacher conference: “If Miranda would just apply herself, she’d be dangerous.” Only she saw my true potential behind my wide, worried eyes.

Then, when I was eight years old, my aunt bought me a little diary with a lock. It was blue and had Holly Hobbie on the front. I would write anything – what boy I thought was cute, about my friends, about my frustrations with my parents. My joy for writing was born with that Holly Hobbie diary and it became my therapy. Through my writing, I purged the worries and daily disappointments, and in doing so – putting them into words, I learned to cope with them and come out of my shell.

Now, many, many (yikes) years later… I am a fairly confident and outgoing woman. One who enjoys meeting new people and experiencing new things. I hardly recognize that shy and scared little girl I use to be anymore, but she emerges from the depths of my mind when I feel anxiety and fear bubble up. And it makes me wonder how many other children suffer from the same anxiety that I had, but we don’t recognize it, and instead brush it off as “childhood fears” and “shyness”.

Maybe if I had been taught coping techniques back then, I would not need meds now.

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