Putting On My Boxing Gloves
I decided awhile back that I don’t care if it’s strange or uncommon or unnecessary, if it means making people feel less alone, I’m in. If it looks like standing by myself with a big ole flashing sign that says, “hey guys, me too” and people are pointing and staring, I’m standing my ground.
Because I have felt alone, I have felt like not enough, and I tremble under the concept of only being half Heather to someone. Only being a partial person to a stranger. I cringe thinking that someone would look at my tiny squared, filtered world and feel jealous or less or alone. I tremble under the weight of knowing the hurt people carry and do not know how to set down. I tremble knowing that it is so so heavy and they think that they are the only one dealing with it.
For me, words and story are power. They are the shovels that dig me out, the escape ladders that get me out of the fire. I believe with every teeny tiny little part of me that when a person tells their story, their really honest one, they metaphorically put on their boxing gloves. And they start their fight. And then they show other people that they can tell theirs too.
Anxiety is only a small part in the story of who I am. But in order to know the other parts, you must sit down with this one.
So, this is me, putting on my boxing gloves. This is me dragging my hurt into the light. It’s hard to put your painful parts into words. It’s so human to want to pretty it all up. I’m sitting here, hitting every key on the keyboard trying to make this all poetic. But unfortunately, being a person isn’t always pretty, it doesn’t always look how we want. So for right now, I’ll just be a person with you. An honest one.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million adults, 3.1% of the U.S. population. There are so many layers and masks and twists and turns to that title. There is certainly no one size fits all for anxiety. But here is what it looks like for me. Anxiety is a really loud room where everyone is screaming, and you are the only one without a voice. You see the chaos, you hear the noise, but you can’t find the door to leave. I get anxiety about most things. About car rides and 3pm, about food and people and opinions. It has never really felt like something I’m able to set down, more so something I must learn to carry.
I think a common misconception about anxiety is that it’s only an emotion - that it’s just the same thing as being happy or being sad - that it’s something you can switch on and off. While feeling general anxiety is definitely a normal human thing, anxiety disorder looks a little bit different. The best way I know to describe it is like running a race without ever leaving your seat. A race you never feel like you can find the finish line to. Something that comes along with anxiety for me is panic disorder aka panic attacks. These are always a fun little surprise in the day. For me, they are brought on most commonly by triggers associated with painful things from my past. In those moments, I seemingly lose the ability to breathe, my hands go numb and my entire body feels paralyzed. A black hole of tunnel vision, and all of the sudden I feel I need to defend and protect myself as if it's my only way to live. It's crazy what our minds can do. I don't say any of these things to be depressing or weird, just to be real! These are bits and pieces of my reality, of my story. And I think, probably, they're parts of yours too. And that's all that they are, parts. There is more to you than this.
And so here I am, typing all of these disjointed words and dragging them out into the light.
This all might seem like pretty basic information to you, but my hope in writing it, is that to one person it won’t just be basic information, but it will be a welcome mat. That it will be a safe place. That they will read these words and say; me too, me too, me too, me too. That they will feel less alone. That they will see my heart on a page in a different way than before. That we can all strive to know each other deeper and louder. Because I am going to be okay, and you are too. You are too.