I wish I could pinpoint the moment I lost my ability to happily be present in public. But I haven’t yet found the one who grants wishes.
I have thought long and hard about what happened and when. But I get so wrapped up in all the details that it becomes a muddled mess.
I know that somewhere along my way, I lost that something that normal people have that enables them to function, with ease, in this world. And I do not think it is ever coming back to me.
As I look down at my planner, I see the words happily drawn across the last three days of this week: SLIPSTREAM ’19. And I am immediately overwhelmed. The feelings rush through and over me like a wave, and I am suddenly pushed deep under water with no clear view of the surface. I can no longer distinguish up from down and, instead of swimming, I find my body succumbing to that feeling of breathlessness.
Last year, as camp approached, my anxiety was nearly out of control. This year things have been reigned in…slightly. Thinking about it still makes me want to throw up, then run and hide for days on end. But I have also taken measures to try and curb all those fears and worries.
Distractions, if you will.
Over the last twelve months my circle of friends has grown exponentially. And it is as baffling as it is wonderful. I have never felt myself worthy of friendship. I struggle to understand why people would choose to spend their time with me. My childhood experiences with my peers, and a few grown-up encounters, have left me irreparably damaged. One would think those occurrences slaughtered my ability to trust others , and in some way I am sure it has been left impaired, but instead they created this monster of doubt that eats me from the inside out. Every. Single. Day.
And what that monster has done is carve itself a cozy spot deep inside my head, nestling in right next to my anxiety, and blanketing itself with my depression. It feasts on anything positive that comes along. Gobbling it right up, before I’ve even had the chance to get to know it. Before I am even aware it is there…
And, sometimes it leaves behind scraps that I can piece together. And sometimes, just those forged together scraps are enough to make memories. But most times it leaves nothing. Not even a shadow of the good that was.
At camp, last year, I met some of the most amazing people. And while I would never wish anyone to be “sick” or encumbered by chronic illness, I am grateful to diabetes for bringing us together. Which may seem an odd thing to say, but without T1D it is almost certain that none of our paths would have crossed.
And, preparing things for those lovely folks, is part of my distraction tactic.
Mental illness is a tricky business. And not one many people understand. Some people do not believe it is real. Others think a handful of pills should be enough to manage it. In my case, it is a very real full time management job. And, in my case, pills absolutely do not help.
I manage my PDD and anxiety disorders the best I can. I have been without a psychologist for nearly three years now and it has been difficult. I manage my days with a lot of self talk (trying my best to make sure it is positive) and try to curb outbreaks of OCD with list making. List help me keep track of what needs to be done, what I am doing and offer a tangible check in of how I am doing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are good days, bad days, really bad days and all the days in between.
And sometimes the best way to escape all those consuming thoughts it through distraction.
I do not like leaving my house. And, several years ago, I didn’t for almost two years (that is why pills do not help me) with the exception of important doctor’s appointments and the occasional visit with family. Leaving my house gives me HUGE anxiety. And I don’t even mean for a trip. I mean simple outings, like grocery shopping. A night out with friends. A walk around the block.
Having my husband or son with me brings comfort. Not enough to completely eradicate my anxiety. But enough that I can actually get out the door.
So…camp. Holy fuck.
Last year, getting me to go out the door and go to camp took a lot of effort. And not just my own. There were several key players that encouraged me. And I am full of gratitude.
This year there are a lot of things I am looking forward to at camp: seeing all the people I have missed since last year, having an incredibly inspirational and kind person to share the ride with, (hopefully) better weather.
And while I have a better idea of what to expect, it also causes certain worries to resurface. All of my food anxieties are lying in wait, ready to pounce the moment food appears on the table. All of my social fears are building. And building. Ready to be suppressed for 72-hours with a “fake it til you make through it” approach.
And there are new fears too. New challenges. This year is a little different for me. I do not have to battle my needle phobia (rushing off to the bathroom before each meal so I can fret, sweat and inject in private) but I will have to do a pump site change. I’ve inexplicably gained a lot of weight so my body image issues have not just resurfaced but breached in a monumental way. My clothes are ill-fit, and my body is now an unfamiliar vessel ready to set sail upon known yet scary seas.
Time for some serious distraction.