It’s been a while since I’ve written anything creative, anything beyond work manuals and emails. Perhaps a haiku here and there, but the passion I once felt for it – the feeling that it was the most natural thing in the world to do… has left me. There was a time in my life where writing was second nature. It was something I was born doing; telling stories and communicating my thoughts was my most natural state of being. Writing was something I did not need motivation to do, it just happened.
And I lost it.
I haven’t updated my blog in more than a year. I haven’t written anything with serious purpose in that time and beyond. It is as if I had achieved my dream of becoming a published author so I could check that item off my bucket list and move on to the new thing. That was what I had been telling myself, but now I’m not so sure. There is always more to a motivation than what is on the surface and when I look at the date of my last attempt to write something for my blog, I realize that it was around the same time I started my battle with anxiety, although I didn’t not know at the time that anxiety was what I was actually feeling. In fact, it has taken me this long to see how badly anxiety has taken over my life and robbed me of my joy.
Never one to shy away from sharing my life’s progression on this blog, I don’t see any reason why I would process this experience any differently. The creeping creature of anxiety, the boogie man I could never see, but always feel breathing on my neck has lingered in my life, my chest, my brain dampening my spirit and lust for life for far too long. I have buried these feelings deep within me, smile glazed across my face as I go about my daily routine and I am finally seeing it as an observer rather than just a participant.
In the last six months there have been times when the anxiety was so bad I broke down crying in the shower in the morning, other times where my best recourse was to vomit just to get the heaviness out of my chest. I craved the company of other people; desperate to fill the time of day with another human being and I am so incredibly grateful for my roommate and her understanding as I clung to her company as if it would save my life. You see, it wasn’t loneliness that I feared, but rather being alone with myself. I remember being too afraid to write, even journal, because I was not ready to face whatever demons were within me, these sources of anxiety that, for my own survival, I needed to smoke out into the light. There were mirrors, metaphorical and physical, that I could not face without a swelling of tears in my throat.
And yet, there were days, weeks even, where I felt nothing. Not the cold emptiness of nothing, but just the calm nothingness of “not-anxiety.” Those moments of “not-anxiety” were respites of the new normal, but at my worst they took months to get to. I had been self-medicating to help me sleep at night until I stopped because my fear of addiction, thankfully, outweighed my fear of the anxiety.
For a short while, the last two months, I had the longest respite I’ve felt in the last year. This respite wasn’t “not-anxiety,” but actual peace. I thought I was finally out of it, cured of anxious feelings that could be written off as a “tough year,” but I was wrong. In a most beautiful place, in the thick of the Rocky Mountains, that nasty little gremlin made itself known for “no apparent reason.” It was just there, sitting in the depths of my stomach urging me to burst into tears over “nothing.” Compound my anxiety with boiling frustration and a deep refusal to say anything beyond “my anxiety is getting the better of me” and my afternoon is shot.
Thankfully, for now (ßmy anxiety is talking, hello Demon #1), I have a support system who did not let me lock it all away, but rather poked and prodded until I looked at the boogie man and started talking about what I saw. It is a start and I have a long way to go yet.
I’m not sure where this experience will take me, but what I do know is that there are still stories left inside of me. There are beautiful landscapes and characters and experiences wrestling for their turn to be written. I won’t begin my next novel now, but I will begin the training process again. I am going to set some goals, create some challenges for myself with writing. Perhaps instead of creating the writing prompts, I will practice some created by others. It is ok to ask for help. It is ok to seek inspiration from sources beyond yourself. It is ok to struggle and to fall.
And it is ok to let someone reach out so that you can stand back up.