I’ve had anxiety for many years. For a long time, I thought I was managing it, until one of those perfect life storms hit me and it erupted completely out of control.
I knew I needed help at that point. I did what I needed to do and got it. After ten months of therapy, my therapist told me she thought I could manage on my own. I thought I probably could too. It’s been a few months now since therapy stopped. It’s not been easy. There was no magic cure. I wasn’t suddenly anxiety-free because of the therapy. I had learned enough to know it would be an ongoing process. But I’m seeing improvements.
I’ve been surprising myself. The anxiety comes. But it also goes. I am better at managing it when it comes. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what I do exactly to manage it. I self-talk a lot. I tell my husband and my best friend what’s going on in my mind. All that really helps. I never thought of myself as someone who keeps stuff inside. But I must have been doing just that. Or maybe when I was allowing things to seep out, they weren’t always the things that really needed to come out. Maybe what I’m learning is to be more honest with myself about the things that are really bothering me. Or that I’m becoming better equipped at recognizing the real feelings I’m having rather than emptying everything into my anxiety box.
But now that I’m becoming better at managing my anxiety, other things are happening too.
During a short visit to Egypt, I was able to catch up with many really good friends and have heart-to-heart talks. I catch up with friends every time I come for a visit. But it was different this time. My anxiety is better, so I am able to express myself more clearly. I am also a better listener. And it’s all giving me a sense of clarity I don’t think I have ever had before. Not this way. It’s made me realize more how horrible the effects of anxiety can actually be.
I feel like I have perspective. It feels like I am more able to pull myself out of my very constricted mind bubble and see life’s larger pictures. I so wish I could hold onto this. I’m not promising myself I will.
I wonder, in a way, if the fog is lifting because I’m in Egypt, where I had always felt rooted until a few years ago post-revolution. It was then that new traumas began piling up on top of many old ones and it all became too much of a burden to carry. Perhaps, because I am now acknowledging my traumas, old and new, I am carrying less of a burden around and I can feel comfortable again where I felt comfortable before. Perhaps, because I have finally found a comfort zone after not having one for so long I am able to feel that little bit better.
I don’t think Egypt, the land, is my comfort zone. I think it’s the friendships I have built in Egypt over the years that are.
Anyway, something is happening. Something good. Now I need to figure out how to hold onto it no matter where I am in the world and no matter how far away I am from the friends I cherish most.