I don't get out much. I fight anxiety and depression daily. Notice I say fight - this is a purposeful word choice. I don't struggle, I don't suffer - I literally fight it every day because I am determined to not allow it to keep power over my life. It's taken many, many years to get to this point but I'm here. It's been just in the last year that I've been able to open up to life. Much of this is due to the love and support of my sister and my friends dancing_adrift
. I'm now able to fight through the anxiety and do things I wouldn't have considered a few years ago.
Last night I went to a concert with my sister. We arrived very early and got very close to the stage - fourth row, nearly center. I've been to concerts before - the last I went to was ten years ago, and the only way I was able to do it was to stick to the outskirts with a clear, quick escape route. But not last night - last night we were right in the thick of it. And I did experience anxiety and panic. The volume that close to the stage was epic - I could feel the ground shaking beneath my feet, the flesh on my arms shuddering with the beat, and the thumping of the bass heavily pounded in my chest. I was unprepared for that much of a physical experience, and it scared me. But I pushed through it, and by the end of the show, I enjoyed it.
The lead singer came out into the crowd during one of the encore songs, and there was a push of the crowd (he was close - my sister got knocked in the head with the microphone cord) - I knew ahead of time that this would happen, it happens at every one of their shows, and I knew I would be in the middle of it. I panicked anyway. But I also dealt with it. I fought down the thoughts that would have blown the situation out of proportion in my head - the thoughts of "what if I get separated from my sister?" "what if I get pushed down and trampled?" "what if I have a panic attack?" - I made it through, and even though I have no memory of that particular song of the show, that's okay. I made it.
As we sat in the car waiting for traffic to clear enough to be able to back out of our parking space, I was enveloped with an overwhelming sense of pride. I was exhausted, sore, and anxiety-ridden, but so fucking proud of myself for doing it. For fighting that which, not that long ago, would have kept me from going and having a good time, enjoying the music, the energy of the crowd and the company of my sister, of making memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I didn't miss out.
The National at MassMoCA - June 11, 2016
I got home late, fell into bed exhausted and slept peacefully and happily. I woke up, still tired and sore, still feeling full of pride at my accomplishment, of how far I've come in my fight. When I went online and started seeing the news, my high deflated. I found there had been yet another shooting, 50 people dead and 53 injured at a club in Orlando.
I started thinking about why something like this would affect me so strongly. I don't watch the news - I gather a meager understanding of what's going on in the world through headlines on the internet, but I can't stomach anything more. I get anxious and depressed when things like this happen, and I can't wrap my head around how
things like this can happen. So I escape into writing, reading, fandom, television and music. I ignore the horrible things that go on in the world because it's too much for me to handle. And that's why the news of this shooting knocked me down off my high of accomplishment. I can handle a concert, but I can't handle the world at large. I can function in my own little, sheltered environment, but I can't open myself up to the greater circle of society. I can't find the strength to join in the fight against these terrible things, even though I fully believe in fighting hate with love, and the more love is put out into the world the stronger and more effective it gets. It's not that I think I will never be able to put myself out there. I know I'm still working on it - last night is evidence of that. I just still have a ways to go before I get to the point where I can fight the panic and fear it brings up in me.
And that brought me to wondering why I choose writing as an escape. I realized that even though writing is a solitary process, that I can shutter myself away with my fingers on the keyboard and not be affected by the things that scare me, it still creates an avenue for me to participate in the society that I'm afraid of. Through telling stories I can put the love that I have, that energy, out into the world. It's my way of fighting. Right now it's what I can do while still caring for myself - and I'm okay with that. Right now, it's enough.
My heart goes out to those affected by this awful, hateful act. I send my love to help in the fight against hate. My words will be flowing as much as possible.