I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it. Something was missing from my life. There was an unusual emptiness in me. My mind was calm. My body, relaxed. My emotions, free. My heart, it soared. I was anxiety-free, an unusual feeling for someone who suffers regularly.
Sitting in my therapist’s office, I described how everything suddenly felt like it was falling into place. Three weeks ago, I had been paralyzed in fear at the prospect of bankruptcy and leaving our current house. I couldn’t act, think or move because the fear was so strong in me. Yesterday, we discussed how I was coming to peace with filing for bankruptcy and having to move. I was letting go of the stories I had built for myself about how and where my kids were going to grow up and go to school. Coming to peace with the idea of moving, I looked at how it could be an excellent opportunity for us to simplify and streamline our lives. A real chance to de-clutter our home and our minds.
My breath flowed in and out of my body without the tense restriction of anxiety as I talked about my upcoming return to work after a nearly three-month absence to deal with depression and anxiety. Working again would provide an opportunity to start making money again, allowing me to contribute to the family again, and allowing us to start building toward the future. Just a few weeks before, my therapist had been recommending I drive to work and sit in the parking lot so I could get used to the idea of returning. Now I was looking forward to it.
I was starting to feel like I was living again, I told my therapist. My older daughters are interested in anime and video games, so we bought them tickets to a comic-con for their birthday. The event is this weekend in Philadelphia and I talked about how I was feeling genuinely excited about it. I was so happy because there would be something there that each of the five of us would be interested in, be it My Little Pony, The Walking Dead or The Hobbit. This comic-con was shaping up to be a real fun family day, and I was feeling more excited about it by far than anything since a December trip to New York for a football game with my dad. Anxiety takes away your desire, and I was feeling grateful to have a little bit of it back again.
Little things even seemed to be working out in my favour lately. My psychiatrist had sent out a letter recently that she was closing her practice. This was really disappointing to me, she was the first one I had that I had felt cared about her patients. Two days ago, I had an appointment with her and she told me she had a verbal agreement with her new place of employment that she could continue seeing patients who wanted to follow her there. This was a real relief to me.
I was even finding that my support system was growing stronger. I had been in touch with someone online who also suffered from depression and anxiety – we had been introduced to each other through a common friend. We’re going to meet in person next, and I’m happy about that. I’ve got only a small group of friends that I’m in any kind of regular contact with, so adding even one to that number is a big deal for me.
Finally, I told my therapist about the one thing that had happened in the last few days that made me feel the most like I was making progress and living life the way it’s supposed to be done. My youngest daughter had a very long day. She told all of her friends at school she was going to be moving, bringing some of them to tears. After school she ran three miles for her running club. And she had hit upon some particularly frustrating homework that she was struggling with. She yelled at her mother, who was trying to explain the homework, stomped her way upstairs and slammed her door shut crying and screaming.
After she had cooled down, I went to her room to see if she was ok, and told her I thought she should apologise to her mom, which she did. I helped her through her math troubles and allowed her to practice her spelling. A little bit later, she snuck past me quietly and started heading upstairs again. I asked her if she had finished her homework, she nodded yes, and I noticed she was crying.
“What’s the matter, baby”
She walked back down the steps toward me, tears rolling down her eight-year-old cheeks, “I’m having such a bad day. I told my friends I was moving and it made them all sad and I yelled at Mommy and made her sad. I just want to go to bed.”
“Oh baby, I’m so sorry,” I made room and she curled up next to me with her head in my lap. I rubbed her back and pulled her hair out of her face. She was heartbroken. She kept crying. I sat there hugging her, trying to comfort her.
After a few minutes I said, “You know, having to move makes Daddy really sad, too. It’s pretty hard to handle sometimes, isn’t it?”
“Mmm-hmm,” she sniffled.
“But you know what? You’re still going to get to see your friends, Mommy and I will make sure of that. And you’re gonna make lots of new friends, too.”
She wiped her eyes, snuffled her nose again, and pushed the hair out of her face. She snuggled in closer to me and I tightened my hold on her. A few minutes later, she rested in my lap, sleeping. I sat there in the quiet, calm and at peace.
I reflected on what had just happened. I could feel the love between us. I could sense her exhaustion. I thought about what I had just done. I had been a parent to my little girl when she needed one. Because of the anxiety and depression in my life, it had been months since I could say that about myself. I had taken another step.
Author Bio – Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He can be contacted Here.