Wow! What a year in the books for me, and hopefully for you as well. It’s crazy to think that 2017 is coming to an end. And 2018 is getting ready to pounce on us. It feels like the year just started, and now, it’s over faster than Christmas break when you are a kid. This year had a lot of firsts for me, and I did things in 2017 that I never thought I would.
It’s been two years since I started my journey of healing my life, and changing everything. I never thought where I am today would be where I would end up. When I started this journey I was alone. Sure, I had a small selection of close friends, but it was just me. This was a journey I had to take. This was something I had to do for myself. I needed to do it. I set out to change my life. I set out to go beyond my anxiety. I set out to go beyond my depression. I set out to live my life and be more than an anxious/depressed person. I was not living up to my potential. I was not living at all. I was existing. I was going through the motions. Day in. Day out. Repeat.
Living a life that has been a roller coaster of emotions has taught and shown me many things in my life. Those hard times always reveal those that will be there for you and those that will not. In those times I learned the most about myself and learned how to better myself and become stronger. I learned to go on and keep on fighting. There have been many days where I did not think I could go on, in fact there were days where I prayed for death. In those darkest of times I somehow found the strength, the courage, and resolve, to keep on going. To keep on moving forward. As scary and as painful as an anxiety/panic attack could be, I somehow had to keep moving forward. Life was not going to wait or stop for me.
Today was my fifth outing in pushing myself to new places and pushing my limits. This outing I had been wanting to go to for a while, and had been excited about going here. This week I went to the Franklin Institute. After seeing they had an exhibit on Egypt I just had to get out there. I have always been fascinated with Egypt so I wanted, no needed, to check it out. Then they added a Pixar exhibit, and I was in salivating over the idea of going there.
This outing however would really test me. All of the times I had gone out in the past five weeks, I had journeyed alone. It is always easier that way. This time would be different. This time I would go out with my brother, his wife, and their kids. A nice little family outing. To most people, that is nothing. For someone who struggled with anxiety and panic attacks all of their life, it can be a nightmare. I will be honest and say that such an idea did make me feel a little anxious. But I must and will reiterate that it was just “a little.” In years past a day like today would not be a little anxious. I would feel so much anxiety, so much panic, that I would spend multiple trips in the bathroom. Either using the bathroom, or throwing up. One or the other. This was so normal for me that any time I had to be somewhere or do something, I always had to make sure I had an hour and a half before I had to leave to give myself enough time to be ready to go through my rituals. So to be at this place within myself where it was just small little jitters is a blessing that words can not describe how good that felt to me. To not be back and forth in the bathroom, over and over, or to be throwing up repeatedly. To just have little jitters, that I would just move on from, was/is huge.
To not be stressed, to not be anxious the whole time before, to not get up multiple times the night before thinking about the day coming up, was so incredible. Much like Mr. Incredible. See what I did there? I was able to go there, and be fine the whole time. We were out there for about 5 hours. And I enjoyed the whole trip, and was not spending it looking at my watch and hoping to get home to where it was safe for me. I was able to enjoy myself. With my family. So many family outings have I missed over the years because of anxiety/panic. This was a great change. I look forward to many more trips while I continue my weekly journeys. There are many more places I want and hope to visit in the upcoming year.
I enjoyed the Pixar exhibit, I love Pixar. Have enjoyed just about all their movies. Not a fan of Cars, and still can not sit through Cars 2, and they are going to make a 3rd one. Surprisingly they did not have any statues of Cars there. True story I once as a teen had dreams of working for Pixar, sadly, my parents said there was no money/future in art. And discouraged it. While I do draw/paint from time to time. I never spent the time doing what I love. Drawing.
The Egypt exhibit was a let down for me. It was very small, and did not have much. Still cool to see, would have liked to have gotten like a small Anubis statue, or something, but did not see any for sale. Boo! Afterwards I rewarded myself and my success with a new video game. I find that it is very important to reward yourself during your successes… Or perhaps I just like free stuff.
After this trip, I was still feeling good, and still wanted to go out. Whoa! Right? That is huge. But couldn’t really think of anywhere to go so just drove around for a little bit, and stopped in a giant Walmart 45 mins away. That is always an experience. Anxiety or not.
The one thing this outing showed me, was that I could go out for 5 hours with my family, than it is very possible to be able to go out with someone that I was dating. Which can open doors to a future relationship. As the life I was living was very hard on relationships and caused a few to end, terribly. Life is whimsical. It really is.
I continued my journey of pushing myself more and more, and took myself out for some fun this afternoon. I spent just about all of my adult life, if not further back than that, living in such a state of fear, and being afraid to go anywhere, it is so shocking to me, that I have been looking forward to these excursions. They are the highlights of my week. I never could have imagined that I would have ever wanted to be out, or even go out. Yet, here I am. I am even planning trips that I want to take. If you were to tell me, that I was pulled out of my body, and replaced with someone new. I would believe you. Some days I don’t even know myself anymore. And that is a great thing.
This week I took myself out to Red Bank Battlefield, which is in Southern New Jersey. I didn’t even know this place existed, until recently, when my sister in law told me about it. It was a small little park, that had some lovely views, and I was able to take some pictures. This one up top is picture of the Whitall House Museum. It was used as a makeshift hospital during the battle of Red Bank, at Fort Mercer. I did not get to go inside, as it is not open during the weekends until April. It is said to be haunted, so I will definitely be going back there to check that out. There was some cannonballs and a cannon on display. Never really realized how large cannon balls actually were. That would certainly ruin your day if you were to get hit with one.
It was a little chilly as the weather was getting cold, as we are expected to get some snow tomorrow, so there is winter weather said to be coming tonight into tomorrow. If tomorrow is the first day of Spring, would that mean it’s Spring weather, or is it Winter weather if it snows? I also met this lovely guy, this is my new BFF, Goose. He is hilarious. He told the funniest jokes, he was quacking me up… Bahhahaha… I can do this all day. Puns are fun. I’m so puny. Oh em gee! I cannot stop! And I’m done. I also had movie tickets to go see the latest Divergent Movie, Allegiant. Yes, I like that series. Don’t judge me! I also like Harry Potter. So I had some time to kill, and went to the mall to kill some time. I was able to buy myself some new tee-shirts, I do love Hot Topic.
All in all the day was a great day, I was out for about 7.5 hours total. More than I could have ever imagined and hoped for. It was a great day. I was not anxious, or stressed, or wanting to freak out.
Happy dance now…
It is such a simple thing the ability to go out places. Yet for someone like me, with anxiety, it’s the hardest thing ever. They say it’s because our brains are hard wired differently, or the chemistry in the brain is not regulated properly.
You never really know how to appreciate life and the simple things until you can not appreciate them because you can not experience them. Those words have never been more true to me. You never really think of how difficult or trying it can be to just go out some place. Until you find that it’s hard to go out because of anxiety. Something that most people take for granted their ability to go out somewhere at the drop of a hat or spontaneously.
As I am working on healing myself and getting to that place of being able to do that. I had the idea of creating a wall of achievements. Where I write down what I did so I am able to look at it on a constant basis to reaffirm that I can do this. I can do that. In the hopes of seeing it and doing it more helps make it easier to do. Instead of just run away from it all. Perhaps this idea can help you overcome your anxiety as well.
Each small achievement can help give you the courage and confidence to keep going. When we want to just quit and run away and hide under the covers.
Make it fun, and go gentle on yourself. Part of mine looks like;
- Went to the movies with brother. (I drove.)
- Took my boss to another town, 35 mins away, to pick up a car. (That was huge for me. In the car with my boss.)
- Went to the comic shop with a friend. (Drove again.)
This seems like small things to most, yet to me it was challenging. I am proud to say I survived them all with no incident. They are leading to my biggest challenge to date at the end of this month when I go on vacation, which will have a three hour car drive. I have not taken a vacation where I went somewhere in 11 years. The last time I went on one was with family and it was a terrible anxious time for me and have not gone on vacation since. I am both excited and terrified by this. I am hopeful to get through this experience even though I want to just cancel it and say no to it. Like I always did in the past. I am choosing a better life. And I hope you do to.