[I’m not one for trigger warnings but I do talk about anxiety in this post and would not want to unwillingly make people feel uncomfortable.]
I have learned to be more open about my anxiety disorder over the last four years. You kind of have to when your only other option is to hide away from the world and allow it to forget about you. It was a lot easier to choose that option for the first two years.
Winters have always been the worse for some reason. Even though I really enjoy the last (and first) months of the year, there is something about the bitter cold and darkness of Winter that would make my anxiety escalate so much faster. Even in a crowd it is easier for me to feel adrift at sea, looking for shore. Even in a wide open space, it is easier for me to feel like I’m being stuffed into a box. These are the months where I can start to feel like I’m losing myself to my panic and fear because of how frequent I have to deal with it.
It has gotten much easier, I’ll admit. After so many years, you learn to shrug it off after it’s over and if you are lucky-as I have been-you can notice when you are starting to panic and learn to calm yourself before it takes hold of you. It’s the initial surge that is difficult. Imagine every so often feeling like you are going to drown, even after learning to swim. You still panic the second you feel yourself going under.
This Winter, however, has been kind to me and I’ve had no real episodes. My last anxiety attack was pretty bad but it was in the first week of December, before Winter had begun. I’m not sure what it was that fended off my usual seasonal issues. Maybe it was Christmas time which, for an atheist, I am surprisingly in love with. I was comfortable walking into the cold night air, into the darkness, because of how bright the lights shined in comparison. Maybe it was the distraction of focusing on writing. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. I have smiled a lot more this Winter than I have in Winters past. I will talk about this subject at greater lengths someday and try to actually offer some sort of solidarity for people who deal with the same thing. For now, I am peaceful and trying to stay warm.