I interrupt this series of fun and fabulous blog posts about my time in lovely San Diego to talk about something that is always with me, but I leave out of most of my posts regarding travel: anxiety.
Now, when I say “anxiety”, I don’t mean I get a little nervous sometimes. I mean I have a diagnosis. And I’m just now, at 36 years old, starting to understand it, recognize it, and actually deal with it.
I write about it, because people don’t understand what it is. How it affects someone with said diagnosis. I didn’t understand it either, and I struggled, and still do, with not perceiving it as mental weakness. But it’s not. It just….is what it is.
I take an antidepressant. Because, back in March, when my thyroid went stupid, I was in a truly dark and terrible place. The antidepressant really gave me some relief until I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and began to get it properly treated.
I had ALWAYS (since my early 20s) been on an anti-ANXIETY med prior to that time, but my doctor switched me to an antidepressant. The same doctor that thought my thyroid was “normal”. When I started seeing a Psychiatrist (another big step in owning my crazy) he left me on said antidepressant and got me a referral to the endocrinologist.
Now the thyroid levels are holding steady, the depression is much better, but the anxiety is returning full force. And he wants to add in a medication for that. And I’m resisting. Hard. Because I don’t want to be on 4 different pills just to function without some kind of mental or physical pain.
And it’s so fucking ironic, because it’s this VERY mindset that had me resistant to seeking help for anxiety so many years ago, which is almost a perfect example of what it is like to live with anxiety: you know what is LOGICAL, you know what is PROBABLE, but you still tend to go along with whatever your anxiety wants you to believe.
It’s exhausting. Purely exhausting. And there’s therapy, and there’s pills, but there isn’t a cure. And before you text me or message me to tell me how I should deal with it, I’m going to stop you right there and tell you, “No thanks.” Because if you’ve never dealt with it, REALLY dealt with anxiety, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, so just do everyone a favor and listen and don’t speak.
Now, that was a long preface, and I get that. I also get that I dropped a f bomb back there and I don’t usually do that. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever done that on this blog, but that should tell you just how frustrated and serious I am about the bitch that is anxiety.
So, here’s what it’s like to travel with her.
For some people with anxiety, they need strong medication just to board the plane. This isn’t an issue for me. I don’t worry about crashing, etc. What I struggle with, is being in such close proximity to people. I like personal space. A LOT. And that goes back to my anxiety because I don’t trust people. Like, at all. If you have my trust, it’s because you somehow earned it or I trust my INTUITION enough about you to believe you wouldn’t hurt me.
But I don’t know that about dozens of strangers on an aircraft. And the guy having the anxiety attack beside me on the plane to San Diego, I didn’t know if he was truly spazzing about the plane or if he was just a crazy guy with a hidden weapon.
THAT MADE ME ANXIOUS.
Speaking of strangers, attending a conference like I am this week, one is expected to network. And for one or two days, I can do that. If I was on anti-anxiety meds, I could probably do that more or better, but I’m not on any this trip, so I’m struggling to be…..social.
Being social ANYtime requires me to be “on”.
What do I mean by that? Well, as an introvert with anxiety, I am doubly cursed here because large groups of people or lots of faux, small talk interactions, mentally wipe me out. I need lots of downtime to recover from it.
“Recover from talking to people? Allison, you sound certifiable!”
Yep, welcome to my life. But the need for solitude is what makes an introvert an introvert. And I’m getting no recovery time this week to speak of because 1. I am in a conference with 50 other people every day, all day and 2. My husband is with me and we share a room of course so there is nowhere that I can actually be alone. Even the bathroom in these hotel rooms is not like the usual standard type of privacy so, yeah. I think I’m feeling the effects of my introversion in full force this week.
Stress exacerbates any issue or problem. Stress on top of anxiety? Oh it’s just delightful.
This conference this week is about Bankruptcy. By far, this issue is the most difficult, newest (to me) and least understood (by me) of my career. The information I’m receiving here is SO detailed, and SO needed by me, that I feel tremendous pressure to make sure I understand what is being taught, and be able to implement it like a boss when I get back to my office.
I want my employer to get his money’s worth, because, much as I’m enjoying my off time, this IS a business trip, and I’m here to learn and get better at my job.
I’m in a place I’ve never physically been. San Diego, while cool and interesting and full of fun things to do is still a giant change from where I come from. And for that reason alone, I can’t let my guard down, just because of physical safety.
The stress of that, of worrying about my husband when he’s out roaming the city by himself, of worrying about if that guy behind us is following us on purpose, of being overwhelmed with decisions about where to go and what to eat and feeling pressure to get the most out of this personally, as a life experience, is huge. I don’t want to miss anything. I may never come back to California! I want to make sure I get the most I possibly can out of it.
I know my husband was probably ready to kill me before we left last week, because I like having an itinerary, even if it’s loose. It helps resolve some of that anxiety because it cuts down on spur-of-the-moment decisions I have to make. And I HATE being forced into a quick decision. I MUST overanalyze it first! Ha! But it all goes back to the anxiety and trying to prepare for the unknown as much as possible.
So, if you made it through this post, congratulations. I’m willing to bet you might have issues yourself, either that or you’re just incredible kind and want to understand me, or maybe you’re an asshole who likes laughing at the mental illnesses of others. Whatever the case, this was just a small, specific peek into what anxiety has done to me this week.
But hey, I’m making progress. Several years ago, I couldn’t have told you that’s what my current mood was based on and how all of these issues led back to the core issue of anxiety. But I know that now. And, bad as I hate it, I see more meds in my future.
If you don’t require mental health treatment, be thankful. Because it’s SUPER hard to get it right. And above all, be kind to those who DO require it. Because we’re doing the best we can with what we’re working with.