I have been super productive lately. I’ve done lots of laundry (and managed to put it away), I’ve kept the dishes from piling up in the sink, I’ve swept all the dog hair off the floor (most days), and I’ve knocked a few things off my to-do list every day.
I’ve even gotten things done on my to-do list that I really really really hate doing. Such as anything involving making a phone call, or going to a new place.
While that might not seem like a big accomplishment to some, it has been for me. Because my anxiety causes me to feel overwhelmed to the point of complete inaction at times, getting stuff done is kind of a big deal.
What’s even more exciting about this is that when I have stepped out of my safe little box recently, things have gone well. For instance, the other day I had to take public transportation somewhere. I hate public transportation due to the lack of control that I have over the situation. Not only that, but I had to take this dreaded public transportation to a place that I had never been before to send a package.
I didn’t know exactly where the building was. I didn’t know what bus stop I should get off at. I didn’t know what the inside of the building was going to look like. I didn’t know how much shipping was going to cost. I didn’t know if they would sell boxes that I could use to send my package.
I didn’t know what the people who worked there were going to be like. Would they be helpful, or hurried, or would they get frustrated with me since I didn’t know their procedures? I didn’t know how busy it was going to be. I didn’t know if they would have a bathroom there, or where it would be if I needed to use it.
In short, there were a lot of unknowns. I was also going by myself, which meant that I was going to have to make all the decisions. This is something that I am A) bad at, and B) hate doing. My anxiety told me that the whole situation was full of potentially disastrous outcomes.
Despite all of that, I went to the post office and nothing bad happened. My anxiety didn’t flare up. In fact, the trip gave me some time to enjoy the beautiful morning that we were having as I walked from the bus stop to the post office and back again. And when I got home, I felt accomplished, strong, and ready to take on the world.
It was a great feeling. But then the reality came crashing over me. I remembered times in the not-at-all-distant past when I would not have been able to overcome the long list of unknowns. Instead, I would have made up excuses about why I couldn’t make the trip to the post office and I would have kept putting it off.
As I remembered this, I also thought about how my anxiety will rear its ugly head again. There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when I will feel like I can’t fight through the lies that my anxiety tells me about why I can’t or shouldn’t or won’t do something.
That realization was almost enough to take away the feeling of invincibility that I had when I got back from the post office. I’m not going to let that happen, though. I’m going to hold on to my victories in the battles that I have against anxiety, no matter how big or small they are.
Hopefully, these moments of victory will accumulate, and I can use them to fight back against the negative, worried thoughts that anxiety gives me. Maybe then I will be able to win more of the battles, and the better times will start to last a little longer. Maybe if I win enough battles, the better times will last a lot longer.
No matter what, though, I know that I will have times when my anxiety is better and I will have times when it is worse. This will happen throughout my entire life. I don’t like to think about it, but I know it is true. I know that battling anxiety will be hard sometimes. Really hard. But I will keep doing it.
And maybe that’s the key. Maybe it isn’t the battles won that is the true triumph over mental illness.
The true triumph is simply continuing to fight back.
Check out part two of this post here.