It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I am nothing if not consistently inconsistent.
The past six weeks have been a challenging mix of highs and lows. Certain aspects of life here have gotten easier: I’ve found a routine, I’ve gotten involved in lots of activities, I’ve begun to build a solid life here. But some aspects only feel like they get harder. Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. The usual negatives I find hard to shake.
I seem to have developed an allergic reaction to something, which has resulted in a few different doctors visits. I’ve also been fighting a cold. These are super small issues that shouldn’t be even remotely stressful. Obviously these things aren’t life-threatening.
But each time I get sick, I am brought back to that scared version of myself fighting for my life in the hospital almost 6 years ago. Back then, they also told me nothing was wrong. It was a cold, a sinus infection, I’d be fine. 9 times out of 10 it’s nothing. I had no reason to worry.
My belief that I would be OK was perhaps what allowed me to get to the point of being alarmingly not OK. Strapped into a hospital bed with needles and tubes and monitors, no longer able to see or speak clearly, to control my limbs, drifting in and out of coherence, this was the result of being told I was fine. Meningitis almost consumed me, and I was told it was nothing.
Obviously, I recovered, and years later a poor memory and a blurry patch of vision are all that remain of that once-vivid trauma. I recovered after a few months, and yet years later the fear that engulfed that time of my life arises each time I get sick. Each trip to the doctor brings back the feeling of terror and uncertainty that surrounded that stage of my life. How difficult it seems to leave the past in the past.
I’m in therapy, actively seeking to minimize the effects of my past experiences. But it’s not easy. And there are times it feels a formidable task. But I am trying. And in the midst of intense fear and anxiety, I look to the things in my life that are constant and good. Reminders that these things have not defeated me and they do not dampen the quality of my beautiful life.
Time spent with my darling friend Peter before he left for the Peace Corps. Exploration by the beaches and hikes with amazing new friends. Thanksgiving spent with my Seattle family and all the babies’ tiny smiling faces. Six full months of sobriety and a life less reliant on vices. The addition of new friends and the trust I’ve found with them. Reunions with old friends and the relentlessness of their love.
I know of very few people who don’t suffer the effects of some trauma in their lives. We carry the burdens of our pasts so heavily with us each day. But one of the most beautiful things I’ve come to see is that if you are willing to share your demons, you will find people rising up to help you carry them. And together, the burden feels far less heavy. And our secrets seem much less powerful when they’re shared. So yeah. I have panic attacks when I go to the doctor. But I also have friends who douse me with so much compassion that I rarely end up having to endure it alone. And in return I have found the ability to help my friends carry their anxieties, too. And that’s just a goddamn incredible thing.