I have panic disorder.
There, I said it. Now, it’s out of the way, and you can grow comfortable with it.
Not only do I have panic disorder, or anxiety as most people call it, but I have it pretty severely. Now, everyone is different, and every battle with anxiety is different.
The way I describe it (thanks to this super awesome gif from Supernatural), is when you think of being nervous, you think of butterflies, right? Well, this is what “feeling nervous” is for me:
It’s painful. Seizing. And yes, quite like fighting some sort of supernatural being that you can’t feel or really explain.
I’m not writing this to get your sympathy, far from it, actually. While there are days I wish I never had what feels like a mark on my back, there are also days I’m grateful for the sensitivity it gives me, and the ability to help others who are suffering, too.
But, what it has done, for the entirety of my life, is hold me back.
There have been many, many things in life that I’ve wanted to do. I’ll save you from going into too much detail. But, I’ll give you a very simple one: I’ve always wanted to try boxing.
But, I never did. Because of my anxiety.
For a long time, I’ll admit, I used this as a crutch. My comfort zone barely went past wherever my toes touched the ground, and as soon as I tossed panic into the air, people let me off easy.
But, it’s also hard. It truly is difficult to live with that thing in your body that awakens once a week if you’re lucky, or once a day, if you’re less fortunate, or if you’re really on the bottom of the bottom like I was, multiple times a day. It takes a toll on your body, physically and mentally.
There are a few things that have helped me learn how to manage my anxiety. 99% of these things I learned from years in therapy. And, some, I discovered on my own.
The most helpful of these things I carry in my mental health toolkit are my New Year’s Resolutions.
As most creative people, and those who have a flair of drama in their lives, I love a metaphor, and New Year’s has always been one of my favorites. Yes, time is a construct (blah, blah, blah). Fine. Yes, it is. I still love the chance to start over that NYE grants us.
For the majority of my conscious life my NYR has been to lose weight, get healthy, things like that. But, a year ago I started a new tradition.
I would make a list. 12 things, one for each month. Each item something I have always wanted to do, but was too scared to try.
I did 6 of them last year, which included taking a boxing class and going on a hike by myself. There were things that weren’t on my list that I took, semi-heads-on, like giving a speech in front of 200 people, and reading my own writing to an audience. These weren’t on the list, but I don’t believe I would have done them if I hadn’t adopted this mentality.
It’s two days until 2019, and I’ve started my list.
And, as one does, I immediately roped my best friend into this. The result? Well, I’ve already completed one of the 12 and it isn’t even 2019, yet. But, like I said, time is a construct.
And while I spent the entire day before completing the item with crippling panic attacks that left me without much sleep and a stomach ache, I did it.
And you know what, I feel fucking awesome.
Panic or no panic. Anxiety or not. Whatever your dream may be, I know it lies a bit outside of your comfort zone.
So push it. Go to it. Move your comfort zone forward and forward until the world is no longer your oyster, but last night’s dinner, and suddenly it moved from the four walls of your bedroom, to right at your feet.
I still have panic disorder, and I always will. But, at the end of 2019, I’ll be closer to feeling free from the prison I’ve allowed it to keep me in for so long.
I urge you, make a list. Do something that scares you. Take that leap. And see where your happiness falls.