Hi, I’m Pete. By way of introduction, let me tell you two stories.

One particular day my wife had a class at 5:00, but she said they would just be getting into groups for an assignment and she should be out most likely by 5:45 or 6:00. I decided to hang out in my office and she could call me when she was done. Except that 6:00 came and went, then 6:30, and then it was coming up on 7:00 when my building closes. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to her. Or, rather, I could imagine all kinds of horrible things. She might have had an accident on the way to school. Maybe we got our signals crossed and she was expecting me to take the bus home. When do busses stop running in Detroit? It’s past 7:00 now, maybe they’re already done. Do I even have change? Her cell phone just kicks over to voicemail, so that’s even more frustrating. My my office was locked up so I had to get out and wander around our corner of Detroit worrying about the intentions of every man I saw walking towards me. I had no idea what to do, I was out of my mind, paralyzed by panic.

That’s how that story would have run if it had happened this past August. That was before medication, before therapy, and above all before I had a good understanding of how anxiety and panic were colouring my perception of the world. This is how it actually happened last night: I was hanging out in my office expecting to hear from my wife at about 5:45 or 6:00, but by nearly 7:00, when the office floors of my building lock up for the night, I still hadn’t heard anything and her cell phone just kicked over to voicemail. It occurred to me that she might have had an accident or that maybe I had misunderstood and she was expecting me to take the bus home. It also occurred to me that maybe the prof had decided to talk a lot longer about the group project than she had thought he would. I couldn’t stay in my office anymore, so I walked over to the parking structure to see if the car is in the usual spot. On the way my phone buzzed. Her class rang longer than she thought and she couldn’t get out to call me earlier, but she’d be at the car in 5 minutes.

Obviously this isn’t saying much about how you can overcome anxiety, nor is there any one way to do it. Everyone has to find what works for them and then stick with it until it stops working. My point here is that you can get better. During the Summer I would hardly have believed it was possible to feel calm again. It seemed like it was against the laws of nature, this is how I was and it was how I would stay. Now I can hardly put myself back in my old mindset. Overcoming anxiety isn’t easy, but regardless of what your panic tells you, it is very possible and you have to KNOW that.

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