If there was one thing I wish I had been told from the beginning is that there would be no fixing me.
I wish that I had been told that there isn’t an end to the journey.
There would be no passing GO or collecting $200.
This would be me forever.
I’ve spent exhaustive amounts of time wondering when I would be “better” and when I would be “me” again. And, in the end, those were just not valid questions. There would be no “better”. There would be no past “me”. There is only who I am in the present. RIGHT. NOW.
I kind of felt as though others around me were also waiting for the big FIX to happen. That one day, some time in the future, I would suddenly become the person I SHOULD have been had I not had that first panic attack over 27 years ago. I would suddenly become the happy, fearless child I once was – that would be the teenager I should have been – I would wake up as the successful adult I was destined to be.
In elementary school I spent many hours of the day in the secretary office fighting panic attacks and wondering if this would be the last time that I had to suffer so badly. Some days I would be in the little dark room with the cot where the sick kids would rest (this room also had all the office supplies and the xerox machine so it was a little strange). Other days I’d sit next to the secretary as I made drawings and tried to distract myself from whatever it was that was “wrong” with me. At this time I didn’t even know what was wrong with me, no one knew. I was lectured by the Principal and Vice-Principal – I’m not sure what they hoped would happen. I was always told that eventually I would stop feeling however I was feeling, return to my regularly scheduled childhood, lifehood, and that was that.
That has yet to be true.
I couldn’t find that cure, I couldn’t regain what I was supposed to be, I couldn’t “beat” my illness. So not only did I let myself down because I couldn’t get better, I also felt like I let everyone else down because I didn’t live up to their expectations in my attempts to recover. And to those who didn’t know, I desperately tried to hide my problems so they wouldn’t know how “weird” or “crazy” I was.
Have you ever sat down to dinner with a group of people, started into a panic attack and then made it all worse because you were convinced you couldn’t excuse yourself or use coping techniques without being judged?
Depression sneaks into the lives of those living with anxiety and panic attacks because they are told that must get better. They aren’t normal if they feel this way. They are told they WILL get better. They are led to believe that if they put in an exhausting amount of work, therapy and changes, they will beat the demon and be this whole new person.
What I wish I was taught is that even though this will be with you for a very long time, that there is a way to deal. That I would find a way to be happy. That I would still be Candace and nothing would ever change that. I wish I was told that there are going to be hard days… and that there will be many. However, I will learn how to handle those hard moments, those hard hours, those hard days.
I should have been told that that I am Candace. Nothing I could do, be, try, would ever change that. There isn’t a better me out there. The me I am now the best me I can ever be because I am real.
There is no fixing me.
I have never needed to be fixed.
Despite spending decades in search of the non-existent cure, I have survived. I am not cured but I have survived. I am alive, I am successful and I can make it through the darkest of days.
That is the truth.