Welcome to Anxiety, Grab a Drink

I hated my life. I hated myself. I hated “God”. I hated everything. I couldn’t shut my brain off. I couldn’t think of a future for myself. I couldn’t continue living (sober). I could sit here for hours trying to find the words to describe what I was feeling but, I would remain speechless. I still don’t know how to describe that pain. I don’t think I ever will. The only way I know to describe it is by repeating a conversation I had with my therapist about two or three months after my brother died. Somewhere along conversation with my therapist, I guess I hinted at not wanting to live. As a therapist, she of course had to ask, “Are you suicidal? Do you ever think of hurting yourself or others? I quickly answered annoyed, “No.” She then replied, “Okay, good! I just have to ask.” After a few moments of staring off I said, “No, I would never kill myself, because I watched my Mom lose one child. I could never be the reason for more of her pain. So, no, I’m not suicidal.” At this point, my therapist’s usually bubbly facial expressions became confused facial expressions. They then began to morph into a shocked sorrow expression as I continued. “I’m not suicidal, but that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly wishing to die. Every day I wake up and hope to step off a sidewalk just a second too early and get hit by a bus. I wish every day that I could die. I wish every day that I can stop feeling this fucking pain. I wish every day to stop feeling everything. So, no, I’m not suicidal. I just want to die and I wish someone else would do it for me.”

When you have this little will to live, this miniscule amount of joy in living, God is nothing to you. There is no God to you. You can barely find a will to live, let alone work through the shit going on in your head. Yeah, that was long gone. I couldn’t relax. Relaxing made it worse. I was insanely anxious, with thoughts beyond this world. I wasn’t worrying about what my friends thought about my outfit. I wasn’t stressing over a test. I was constantly worrying about where we go when we die. I was worrying about where my brother was. I was worrying if he was okay. How he would ever be able to tell me he was okay. About how he could possibly be okay. I was worrying about not just how he could be okay, but how my mom, his fiancé, his child, how ANY of them could be okay. I was constantly reliving every conversation I’ve ever had with Kenny in my head. Reliving the time, I told him he was disappointing me when his addiction got out of hand. Reliving the time, I refused to let him wish me a happy birthday when he called from jail that year. Reliving every single thing I would change. And I couldn’t think of anything else.

To those who didn’t know me in the past, I never had anxiety. School was a breeze. I always had friends. I never had to study much. I never really stressed about anything. So, you can understand my surprise when I started having anxiety attacks.

I remember being in my house alone for the first time since Kenny’s arrangements finished. A house that was once so loudly full. People, food, flowers. Conversation everywhere. And then suddenly, nothing. No one. The island was empty except for some dying flowers. The house was deafeningly quiet. It was finally just me. For the first time in weeks, it was just me. For a moment it was nice. But as quickly as it came, it left. And immediately, my brain was full of these terrifying thoughts about life, death, Kenny, the after, the now, the reasoning, all of it. The large room I was in suddenly felt like it was caving in on me. My heart began to race. My breathing became erratic. I had no idea what was happening. Luckily, I was home and free to do as I pleased. Driving had always been therapy to me. Whether I was happy or sad, I loved getting in the car, cranking any tune I was in the mood for, getting on a road, and driving anywhere I had in mind. Maybe it’s a control thing again, but anyway. So, I got in the car and left. My pulse slowly dropped. My thoughts slowly drifted. It was just me and the road.

The second time I had an anxiety attack wasn’t so pretty. It was my first time back at work since my brother died. The interesting thing about my job was that it that kind of mimicked a morgue. I worked alongside a surgeon. So, the setting was very similar. Cool temperature, steel metal, sterile smell, kind of like a morgue. The police came to our door around 11:00pm the night my brother died to tell us what had happened. Given the morgue was closed at the time, we had to go the next day to identify his body. For you who have never had to do this, it is not as graceful as the movies make it seem to be. You walk into a weird room and wait for what feels like a painfully long time for the body to be placed. You are then shuffled to a large room that leads to a smaller room. The lights are off. There is a glass window in front of you. Once you are close enough to the glass, they flip on the lights without any warning. And there they are. On a steel table with a thin vinyl sheet over their naked body. Eyes and mouth open. Lifeless. I looked at Kenny for maybe a full second and immediately walked out. That wasn’t my brother. That was a shell of a being who resembled my brother. He didn’t have Kenny’s smile. He didn’t have Kenny’s talent. Kenny’s humor. Kenny’s love. He had nothing.

The workers ushered my family out of the building after my dad signed whatever paper he had to. I knew Kenny was dead since my Mom told me he was, but your mind can’t help but to hold on to that one ounce of hope that it isn’t true. And that one ounce vanished that day. After my second anxiety attack my brain rewired itself. Before I go to bed every night, I see Kenny lying on that table. Every night. Every morning. Every day. I can’t erase it. And I probably never will. It’s what our brains do. They don’t let us forget things. They replay scenarios over and over again because they can’t forget. They don’t want to forget. Almost like the shock of experiencing it again is too much for it, that it refuses to forget it. So instead of remembering it loudly, you just continuously see it every day to subtly remind you of it.

Whether it was the smells of the sterile chemicals or the steel tables, somehow my job mimicked a morgue to me. I scrubbed in for surgery, step in, grabbed my tools, and froze. We began working on a patient. Normally, I would be on the ball, but this day, I was delayed. I always enjoyed being in surgery, but that day, I wanted nothing more than to get out. But I couldn’t. There was no car to get in and drive. I was stuck, in a situation reminding me of my worst memory. My actual worst memory. I was wishing my mind would flood with the memories of anything else. Like finding out my ex was cheating on me. Those memories would have been a walk in the park compared to this. But no, those were immediately washed out with the images of Kenny on the table in the morgue. I began sweating, my hands began shaking, my mind firing at an immeasurable rate, my heart pounding out of my chest. I tried to slow down my breathing. I tried to focus on something. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do anything. My arms went painfully numb. Nausea hit my stomach like left over Chipotle. My brain was pulsing against my skull. I tried my hardest to tough it out, but something felt extremely wrong. I needed to leave. “I need to step out for a moment.”, “Sure Rach”, the surgeon replied. I fled. Nothing helped. I needed to go. I got in my car, hyperventilating, and drove. And after a few minutes, I felt okay. I was in control. I was moving. I was smelling new smells. Seeing new things. Nothing could catch me now. After I drove for a few hours, I ended up at a bar. I ordered a tequila soda. And another...and another. I felt my body beginning to relax. It was the only thing that made me relax. Alcohol. My new best friend.

I introduce to you, the Depression Diet.

“The Depression Diet”, is the comical and sadly accurate title of my lifestyle back then. The Depression Diet consists of copious amounts of alcohol, a serving of self-hate, week long benders, an eating disorder, some drugs, the worst men you’ve ever met, and a splash of a disinterest in living.

When followed correctly, results may include, but are not limited to:

· An extremely high bar tab

· Psychotic messages from your ex

· Concerns from your therapist

· A ton of dancing

· An unplanned pregnancy

The Depression Diet is for those who have been struggling with other diets suggested by their friends, such as:

· God Will Lead the Way!

· Do a face mask or try Yoga!

· Go Vegan, it’ll make you feel better!

Alcohol forced my body and brain to relax. Drugs made me happy (most of the time). Sleeping with my ex…well that’s complicated. At that time, I didn’t want to meet anyone new. I didn’t want to answer the “So, where are you from?, How many siblings do you have? Blah. Blah. Blah.” How would those conversations go? Do you include dead siblings? How do you not ruin the mood when you tell them you’re hanging by a thread? What could our common interests be? Do I ask if they have also don’t know how to show affection? Do I ask if they also have a therapist? Do I tell them I’m ignoring mine? Fuuuuck. It’s complicated. It’s discouraging. It’s hard.

So, what’s easy, you ask? Answering your ex, who is asking for the chance to apologize for being a raging asshole for the 78th time, and who is probably an actual sociopath. Duh!…(This is not a sign. Do not call your ex. They are for sure the worst) But, he’s easy. You know him. He knows the situation. There’s no conversation to have been had. It’s easy. Extremely mentally unhealthy, but easy. So, let’s use him. As well as anyone else we can find to distract us from reality!

*Que the worst guys I’ve ever met*

So, alcohol calmed me down. Drugs made me happy. Sex distracted me. And for a while I felt fine. But, here’s the thing. I’ll let you in on a big secret. Not a single thing, a single person, a single drink, can bring you out of a sadness like that. A sadness, that deep, can only be fixed by yourself. You can surround yourself with good people or bad people. Good intentions or bad intentions, but nothing will really fix you. I distracted myself from my pain constantly. And at times it wasn’t the best thing for me. But it’s what I needed at the time. I needed to run away. I needed to forget. I couldn’t let that pain in yet. I wasn’t ready for it.

So, I was riding high (literally) for a while. Drinking, dancing, laughing. Doing my thang. And by “thang” I mean, as my therapist calls it, running from my problems. But I was enjoying myself so why end the party?

Well…I got pregnant.

Happy Monday! See ya next time!

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