This blog series is an accompaniment to the performance of #No.Filter: an exercise in vulnerability for clarinet, electronics, and film which will premier original works at Resonance Cafe, March 25 at 9pm.
I often feel that I'm a bit slow on the uptake. I don't always catch on quickly to how things work or what is going on around me. I am also very aware that I am simultaneously extremely self-conscious and completely lack any deep sense of self-awareness. I think in some cases this has worked to my benefit, but in other cases it has taken me far too long to understand things about myself and how I understand and cope with the world around me.
I was thirty years old when I realized I have anxiety.
In hindsight this is all very clear to me but at the time I just thought that how I am was how everyone was, that I was just me and it is what it is. It took me until I was thirty.
I was not unaware of what anxiety was, I knew what it was. I knew many people dealt with anxiety. I understood they symptoms, the sensations, but I never once realized that all the things I was experiencing were anxiety.
I lived life (live life) at an 11. I move at 100 miles an hour and everything is ride or die. I had to know everything, had to do everything, had to be the best at everything. Every decision, every action,no matter how mundane weighed on me heavily. The consequences of making the wrong choice could be dire. "What if I bought the can of soup that wasn't on sale instead of the one that was." In my mind, spending the extra 79 cents could lead to my complete and utter ruin. Somehow I would wind up with my life in shambles, just shredding at the seams, and it will all have been because of that one moment when I spent an extra 79 cents on a can of soup.
This way of thinking is ridiculous but in the moment it is infallible. I never realized )not with any sense of accuity) that other people did not think this way. Not everything was life or death, not everything came with larger than life consequences.
Everything made me nervous, everything made me stressed... but I never realized it. I think it took me so long to identify what was going on because I am so functional. My anxiety drives me to work
It wasn't until I had what I assume was a mild panic attack. It lingered for a while. I was at work unable to do anything about it. I couldn't catch my breath, I couldn't concentrate, I was unfocused, and it just kept increasing. I was absolutely panicked for no reason. That much I knew. I tried to breathe and get myself to calm down but I couldn't. A coworker asked me what was going on and I told him "I don't know I just feel super freaked out and I don't know why." After a short chat he said "It sounds like an anxiety attack"
"I don't have anxiety."
Then slowly over the course of the day the puzzle pieces began to click into place. I have anxiety. I have constant chronic anxiety. I have anxiety that is always there like a low hum. It makes me buzz. It makes me feel out of control of myself.
I have anxiety. Sometimes it is noticeable but it is always there.