A few miles from home

High strung, jittery, restless, catastrophizer- I have been called them all. Among other mental health diagnoses, most of my life has plagued by panic and agoraphobia. The panic has prevented me from doing most of the activities I really want to participate in but was simply too stinking scared to move forward. Panic has prevented me from acquiring my doctorate which has been a goal of mine since I was in middle school. I missed out on internships and job opportunities and didn’t even attend my own wedding reception because of the panic. When the doors opened to the reception hall and the DJ announced us as a married couple, my husband bravely and proudly walked out alone. We had our first dance virtually while I was at home, my husband entertained our 125+ guests. My anxiety became so limiting that for the last 7 years, I have been nearly housebound only traveling a few miles from home. With lots of support from my medical and behavioral health teams and my exceptional husband I have very slowly inched my way out of the house and down the road.
Additionally, I have experienced digestive issues that have impacted my weight and ability to sufficiently process foods. Weight loss, nausea, and other digestive symptoms has fueled my anxiety and left me feeling even more vulnerable, isolated and scared. Despite my limitations, the anxiety has not taken over every aspect of my life. I am still very capable of working and luckily, I love to write so I seek out lots of positions where I can communicate through this platform. I can also express my passion for animals, and we been fortunate to have fostered many dogs and cats over the years. The ability to provide refuge for homeless animals has allowed me to shift my attention from my continually running thoughts to focus on another being, that just like me, is scared and uncertain. My husband and I love to cook and bake and watch movies. Date nights, even pre-covid, looked much different than what most couples engage in. We stay home, make a lovely meal, I might even dress up for the occasion. We do long for the days when I may feel comfortable traveling to a nearby restaurant for a romantic evening out.
My anxiety has definitely impacted my life, but I continue to focus on what I am capable of, no matter how small my world feels some days. I recognize days that are more of a struggle and remind myself that tomorrow will likely feel and look much different. I honor the days where I feel empowered and am filled with positive energy. Finally, I have surrounded myself with people who may not fully understand my plight but support me in this rocky journey and celebrate all my tiny victories right along with me. Although anxiety has taken so much from me, it has also given me a deep and compassionate heart. I am grateful for being able to see the world through a lens of true vulnerability and not be ashamed for who I am. I am a woman of strength and perseverance, and I am uniquely me.