There’s a huge temptation for all of us, every once and awhile, desperate for the right story, the right narrative in our existence, to want to point at a specific incident and say, ‘That’s it, that’s what started it all’. It’s like the endless harking back to the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents as the beginning of his journey towards becoming Batman.
It’s a very human thing to crave. Something to make sense of the chaos that often surrounds us. To have one shining moment that makes sense of it all.
This is mine.
Truth be told, I’ve always been anxious. Always been nervous about trying new things, nervous about failing, nervous about being noticed and nervous about being ignored. There are times where I handle it better than others. Times where I manage in some way to push the fear down and to stop it from consuming me.
Two years ago. Today.
Was the day when it became unmanageable.
Actually it was the day before. I couldn’t keep food down, was tired, a little strung out and desperately pretending like I wasn’t. Like the looming issue that I was ignoring, or trying to, was just outside my consciousness. Able to be ignored, except for all the physical symptoms that told me it wasn’t possible to ignore it.
It told me I was anxious. Hugely anxious. And there was nothing that was going to change that fact.
But the reason I was anxious, the reason I was feeling so lost and helpless in that moment, was the knowledge that two hours north of where I was in that moment, my grandfather lay dying and I wasn’t coping with that idea. I wasn’t coping at the idea of losing him, knowing it was inevitable, and wasn’t coping at the idea of what came after it.
I had buried a grandmother the year before. I knew everything that came afterwards. The planning, the upset, the tears and the heated words. I was anxious then. Anxious at the idea of having to deal with me own grief and that of the people around me. Especially the people that I didn’t want to see grieving. Ones that I didn’t want to see at all. The ones I’d managed to go most of my adult life with little to no contact. The ones with the crocodile tears, or worse, real ones knowing that they’d never borne any of the emotional burden while my grandmother was alive.
I’m often angry in these situations.
It’s another thing that makes me anxious.
This time, perhaps due to the quick succession in which I’d lost two grandparents, having only lost one great-grandmother in my lifetime prior to this, which meant that I was anxious not knowing how to deal with it. Not knowing how to make it better for the people around me. Knowing that I was likely to be angry with a lot of them and unable to channel that into something productive. Being productive but not being able to deal with the raw emotions that I was feeling.
So I started panicking. Started panicking a lot.
There were days that seemed so endless because I couldn’t see a way past the panic.
Now though, there’s two years. Two years between me and then.
That was my origin for the worst parts of my anxiety. That was the trigger. The one that made me finally realise that it wasn’t something that I could cope with on my own. That I needed help.
Two years later and I’m still anxious. Last week was a particular reminder of that, there wasn’t panic but it was certainly anxiousness. But the difference is now, I’m able to move beyond it. I’m able to cope in ways that I didn’t know I could possess. I can cope with it, with no medication and limited therapy. Equipped with tools and knowledge that I didn’t have before.
So although this day shall always be melancholic, as origin stories often are. I feel proud of the progress I’ve made to get me to this point. To see what I can do now that I couldn’t do then.
Two years on has made all the difference in the world to me.
So although this day will always be melancholic, for the 2am phonecall I received and the panic that came after it, I’m trying to see it as something positive. To see something worthwhile in something so sad.
I miss both my grandparents desperately but I’d like to think they’d be proud of where I ended up and that’s the most important thing today.