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Seeing Things

Seeing is believing or so they say.

I have been searching for a way to articulate anxiety. It is something that I have great difficulty putting into words so that others can see a little of what it is like to live with anxiety. I believe that if you can catch a glimpse of what others are experiencing in their personal struggles then, more often than not, we find a little more compassion and  understanding for things we don’t completely comprehend. At least, I hope that’s the way it goes.

I can only speak for myself but the more I begin to understand my own struggles with PTSD and anxiety, the more I wish someone else would just say, I get it, I get you. Intellectually, I know that there are a lot of other people living their best life with PTSD and anxiety. I know, that I am not alone. Bold, honest truth is that sometimes what you feel trumps what you know and those are the moments when we long for someone to love, accept and understand our struggles.

This past week, I’ve spent a fair amount of time watching the BBC hit, Luther. Thanks to Netflix, I’ve been able to catch up on four series just as filming begins on series five of the show. During one of my late night binge sessions, I came face to face with anxiety. It was the episode where Justin Ripley has been taken hostage. He is being held by the demented villain, hanging from a noose in a dark, damp, stone tunnel. He’s been beaten, branded and left for dead with a plastic bag over his head. Miraculously, Justin Ripley frees himself and begins to run toward the rusty ladder and a creaky hatch door that is presumably leading to his freedom. Up the ladder he goes and boom…that is when I see anxiety.

In a split second, as Ripley reaches the top of the ladder, I think to myself, “Oh no, don’t go out there! You don’t know what is out there!” Slamming the hatch door open, he barges out into the streets on London and his freedom. I slump back on my chair and mutter, “Oh my gosh, that is what anxiety like…” I am stunned. Suddenly, I have a visual representation of what my PTSD and anxiety feels like.

Life with anxiety and PTSD is just like being held hostage, constantly tormented by a nasty villain, all the while knowing that to survive you must break free. When you muster the strength and make a bold dash for freedom, the what if’s stop you at the bottom of the ladder. You never make it to the top and throw open the hatch door. You are crushed by a fear, worry and long list of unknowns and what if’s at the very first rung. You can see the door. You can see the noose on the wall. You need to get out. You want to get out. You’re paralyzed just long enough for the boogey man to get you again and suddenly, you’re hanging by your neck staring up at that hatch door, summoning the strength and courage to make another mad dash for freedom.

Hostage. Break out. Collapse. Repeat. Once a day or ten times in a day. It doesn’t really matter. To accomplish anything against anxiety and PTSD, you inevitably have to do it a hundreds times before you reach the top of a rusty ladder and find your freedom.

You see, I’m not trying to fail. I’m not the big screw up that you told me I was. I am not incompetent at life. I’m just a little tired. I’ve broken free a hundred times just to make a phone call. I’ve scrambled down a long, dark, damp tunnel repeatedly just to make a social event at Christmas. I’ve stood sobbing at the bottom of my rusty ladder under the weight of a thousand villainous thoughts attacking and dragging me backward just to mail a package at the post office.

I know you can do these things with ease, trust me, I know freedom is easy for you.
This is what it is like for me.

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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Lonely Girl

Loneliness.

At one point in time, in everyone’s life, we all come face to face with the formidable opponent called loneliness. None of us are immune from experiencing seasons where we feel like we have been hung out in the storms of life all by ourselves. I wish I could change that but it is simply a fact of life that we all must learn how to wade our way through. No amount of wishing will ever change that reality. We all will face loneliness. Each of us will be alone at some point for whatever reason.

I must stress that it is imperative to say, loud and clear, I have had tremendous support and friendships throughout my life. I have been on the receiving end of some of the greatest outpourings of love in my life. I am extremely thankful for the people who joined my life and provided support whether it was in the form of friendship or money or just a phone conversation to let me vent my frustration. I am an abundantly blessed gal in this department of life. I see these loved ones. I acknowledge their gifts and help in my life. I am in both debt and gratitude to some superb people.

I am not speaking about having a life void of family, friends, loved ones and all the brilliant, extended support they contribute to our lives. I am talking about the loneliness that shows up right as you are about to fall asleep and in the dark, you come face to face with the stark reality that despite generous love and support, when it comes down to the grit of life, it is only you.

Your life may be full of loving family and friends but when the gnarly, huffing, beast of loneliness stares into your soul, you are stripped of all pretenses and you know, you are the only one who is responsible. You are the only one who is going to catch it when the shit hits the fan. You are the one who will feel the brunt of any bad choices. You are the one who has to muster the strength to carry it, whatever it is.

Loved. Supported. Encouraged. Helped. Alone.
Truth is, we can have all the extended love and support in this world but still be alone.
At least, I have always felt this way. Maybe this is my truth.

I had one of those lone moments again today. Only this time there was added element. I’ve been looking for housing in Prescott. It is turning into a nightmare. Any place that we can afford, doesn’t take pets. Any place that takes pets, we can’t afford. That is only part of the problem. The few places that we can afford and allows for pets don’t have rental units open for months. Which means, if we move and have no place to live, I am spending our savings on a hotel while we wait for a place to live and I can’t do that because as a mother, as a human being, this reality makes you the biggest failure. Ever.

I was on the verge a major meltdown today when I stopped myself, closed the bedroom door and applied for a job in Prescott. When I successfully applied for a job, I sat staring at the computer screen and was overwhelm with the ugly glare of that haunting, burdened beast. I uttered, to myself, “I never thought I would still be alone at almost 50 years old.” That’s the blaring, cold reality. I am still alone and responsible.

When I was a naive, 23 year old, single mother whom struck on her own to make the best life anyone ever had come true, I envisioned a life that blossomed and grew as I headed into my senior years. I dreamed of a large loving family and a warm, picture perfect home with a roaring fireplace. Life did not turn out like I tried to make it happen. Instead, I am alone, carrying more responsibility, handling one crisis after another and just starting over again. Hell, I’ve started over so many times, I can’t even remember how many times I’ve done it.

I don’t know what this is but it is not the life I set out to create and the older I get the colder it gets and the more alone I am.

Just not cool, life. Just not cool.

Be brave.
Jamie Christine