Saturday, January 13, 2018

Leaps of Faith: When Anxiety Makes Change Terrifying

Change is scary.

Transition is difficult.

I always berate myself for getting so thrown by changes in my life. Things that should be a relief, like coming home after being away at school or an internship for a long time can be agonizing as I navigate a surge of emotions and frustrations. I remember I used to get so overwhelmed and emotional when I went back to school after break even though I was happy to be back...I would think about how I was getting closer to graduation and just generally feel overwhelmed at the prospect of being back with friends at my second home.

Last fall, when I moved ten hours from home to an internship, I remember being flooded with overwhelm and emotions as I dumped suitcase after suitcase of my belongings into the converted motel room I would be inhabiting for the next two months. I was still reeling from heartbreak and had only been home for two weeks since my summer intensive internship program -- two weeks that had been filled with tumult over transitioning back to life with my family after a summer of relative independence as well as figuring out what my next step was.

Soon, I'll be moving to another short-term work opportunity in a state even further away. I'm excited but also overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving my family, who have been my bedrock in recent months. I'm stressed about all the obligations I have leading up to my move, which I know will leave me feeling drained. I feel alone, not knowing anyone who I'll be living or working with. I feel nervous about the drive there, especially after my psychiatrist spent most of my med check appointment doling out unsolicited advice about making long trips and subsequently messed up writing my prescription, leaving me with anxiety about my drive and yet another issue (getting the meds I need for the two months) I have to sort out before I leave.

I'm scared. I worry about getting lonely and depressed again once I get there. I worry I won't be able to do my job well. I worry about what I will do after this internship finishes.

But at the end of the day, I think about all the experiences I've gotten to have by stepping - hell, leaping - out of my comfort zone multiple times in the past year. Not all of the experiences were great, but I grew through it all. And I will always remember what my mom said to me when I started to cry when she dropped me off at my internship last summer: "You are supposed to be here because you deserve something more than just sitting around at home."

It's terrifying to push yourself out of your carefully-constructed comfort zone, especially when you struggle with anxiety, stress-induced depression and panic attacks, and are sensitive. But we have to take those leaps so we don't become a prisoner to our demons.

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