Dude, I'm Anxious (a love note about my friends)

Lately I have had too much on my mind. In the last month, much has changed in my day to day…multiple times.  My oldest started first grade (*gasp* full day of school!), three weeks later my youngest started preschool (3 hours of freedom! Woohoo!), finally decided to bite the bullet and start going back to school next semester, then unexpectedly I had to leave the job I loved which left me figuring out “what now?”, a couple of close friends moved out of state (or country), my therapist retired, and so on.

With my brain chemistry being the way it’s been for the last year, all this change means one thing: panic attacks and anxiety. Oh boy. Two weeks ago was a week that was non-stop panic attacks. And before that they were probably at least 2-4 days a week for a solid month before that.

As you can tell, I’m handling things wonderfully.

It’s hard to not feel like a failure when my anxiety becomes an issue. It’s a new issue, so I don’t entirely have it figured out. I usually don’t even catch up to the point that it’s anxiety and not whatever is happening in life until days into it. It makes me freeze, takes more effort to “be normal”, because my body is constantly feeling like I’m one step away from being smothered. I’ll usually feel like this all day long… sometimes all week long, and then I’ll be fine for a couple of weeks or months. Think I’m good. Oh I’m totally over it all. It was just a phase.

Then I’m surprised when it starts back up again.

But one of my major life goals...like the things I want to be in my obituary type goals... is: I want to handle life with grace, or at least die trying the hardest I can. And anxiety makes that mission 300 times harder. I’m not only dealing with whatever stressor is in front of me, but also my body screaming DANGER, DANGER and trying to shut down.

I’m freaking out man.

I’m doing better now. I’ve reached out and got some new resources to help me learn to manage this anxiety craziness. I’ll talk more about that at another time.

Thank goodness I got my ladies by my side to constantly encourage me. Yes, I have a tribe. A crew. Rat pack. Whatever the kids are calling it these days.

I have a group of solid, real, honest, and loving friends who constantly remind me that I’m okay. They are not shy to share that I have value, they care enough about me to challenge me spiritually, remind me that my world isn’t actually caving in when I think it is, and oh yeah Jen, don’t forget you need to take care of yourself.

Having these friends has saved me. When I feel crazy, they treat me like I’m not. They tell me the truth, they support my crazy ideas, ooh and ahhh over my silly creative projects,  and they send me so much love, it actually breaks through my anxiety mess. And with a couple of them, our relationship is 75% based on just encouraging each other almost daily. They are my lifeline.

It’s taken me a lot to get to this point to have friends I can lean on. I’ve had one or two here and there that were solid and amazing.  But never a tribe.

I’ve had wonderful and amazing women in my life before, but part of me was always afraid of rejection, that I never was completely myself with them. Every criticism killed me. I didn’t value myself, so I didn’t notice when I hung out with people who didn’t value me. It’s just not great friendship foundation.

Part of it has been on me too. I never completely opened up..or did very sparingly. I don’t think I’ve ever have known myself as well as I have in the last year. I’ve finally embraced “being me”. Because of that, I have friends who love me for me. They can’t love someone they don’t know.

Anxiety aside, changes aside, I’m doing okay. I got my girls who I can cry to and text at all hours of the day. Who send me Instagram love. Who will talk to me over coffee, coffee, and then lots of dessert. My girls who remind me that I’m not crazy, or that..well, I was a little, but they still love me anyway. I know I can deal with this anxiety because of them.

I loves them.