You know how you willingly get on a roller coaster and as it pulls from the station you get that little flutter of excitement in your chest? Then, as the cable is slowly pulling your car up the incline you start to get wiggly with just a hint of worry? Maybe you’re a little afraid of heights, and as long as you don’t look off to the right or left, you’ll be okay but then a big gust of wind comes across the park and as it hits the side of the car, it wobbles….just a tiny bit?
The chest flutter disappears and instead your ribs feel like they’re being squeezed and your heart starts pounding. The folks in the car behind you are whooping and hollering and as the car approaches the summit, obviously unafraid, but you instinctively pull tighter on the shoulder harness and holy guacamole, it gives just the tiniest of inches.
You know the attendant came by before the ride began, and yanked on the lap bar and the shoulder harness. You know that the likelihood of the harness failing is, like, a gabillion to one but IT.MOVED.AND.NOW.YOU.WANT.OFF.OF.THE.RIDE.
And just as you reach the top, and can hear the car release from the tow pull, a terror fills your body that is indescribable. You wonder if your own strength and determination are going to be enough to hang on when your harness releases and you go flying through one of the turns, barely hanging on with your fingertips. Deep down, you know you’re being ridiculous but fear wins in those last 5.7 seconds before the real ride begins, right?
That is how anxiety works for me.
The build up. The fear.
I know that life is full of safety mechanisms that keep catastrophe at bay. I know that my worst fears are not likely to come true. I know that odds are in my favor for most fears, and that for the things that I have real reason to worry, I know that I am doing my very best to prevent disaster. But over the course of the last 4 1/2 years I’ve slowly lost the ability to realistically assess the future. It really is the future that keeps me up at night. It is what lies right over the summit that scares me to death.
I can lay in bed and think of one thing, something basically innocuous, which will lead me to think of something else, then something else and before I know it, I am gripping the shoulder harness and preparing to die from fear.
And once I am strapped onto that anxiety coaster, there’s no stopping the ride..
Having a child born with a life-altering, life-threatening disability has changed me to my core and while I can happily get up to face the day and appear to have it all together, it only takes a few quiet minutes and a single thought to send me up the roller coaster, right to the edge of panic.
It makes me feel weak. It reminds me that I am not the person I used to be. It makes me cry. I hate it.