Just. Breathe.

Hi Friends!

Hope the “new” year has been treating every one well so far! I had a completely different entry in mind for today but something happened that I felt was more appropriate for today. I’d like to talk about my anxiety.

So…guess who’s not a bum anymore? This girl!!! Yup, that’s right folk, I am setting foot into the working world, and not on a seasonal basis, that is. Who thought that day would ever come? To be honest, I didn’t, or at least I was trying to delay it, but it’s here guys!

Last week was my first day at a new job, and to be honest, I was mortified! I think I got through it okay, looking at it in retrospect, in one piece, with most of my nerves in tact and I’d like to tell you why that is, but first, here’s the background to my anxiety:

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I’ve always been a worrier, or at least I think I have. I actually cannot remember a time when I didn’t have this “mindset” so to speak, even though that’s not quite what it is, growing up, I was always a bit more on the pessimistic side. I always had the thought that the worst thing was going to happen, even if I never voiced this concern and lived under the guise of Ms. calm-cool-collected. I’ve always been everyone’s cheerleader and problem solver. Someone is in need of an encouraging mood-boost, I became your personal fortune cookie, but I was never good at taking a dose of my own medicine.

I guess that’s why it didn’t surprise me when I had my first, of soon to be frequent panic attacks, in my first semester of the 2014-2015 academic year; I’ll save the story of that ordeal for another time though. The important thing to note is that to some extent that day started like a normal day: I got up got dressed, and headed out the door to school. I wasn’t happy or eager to go, but I wasn’t necessarily dreading it either; I just felt the same level of disdain as always. But in an instant, everything changed…it amplified! Long story short, a few days after that incident and a talk with a friend, I found my way to the Counselling Department at UTech’s Medical Centre, and I became a “regular”. I did the tests, filled out the questionnaires and sat through the sessions, and I was quickly diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety disorder and was written the prescription to match (I never filled it though), and as they say friends, the rest is history. I’ve had the mental illness and symptoms ever since.

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The thing is the diagnosis didn’t surprise me at all, I pretty saw it coming and had self-diagnosed before hand, using google as we all do when we sense something is off kilter in our system (according to WedMD, I also have some sort of cancer, a brain tumor, bronchitis and possibly some rare skin disease all resulting in less than 6 months to live…let’s just laugh together, shall we? Lol!) You see, leading up to that first panic attack, I’d been having a real challenge “functioning normally”: I had no appetite but then I’d want to eat everything in sight; I suffered from insomnia and then I’d oversleep; I wasn’t interested in the things I usually was; I was always avoiding certain things, places and people; I was convinced the world was going to end and everything bad always happens to me (still pretty convinced about that one to be honest); I hadn’t completed any assignments, or even made it to class in WEEKS! There were many more things happening but to sum it up, I was a mess.

Before my official diagnosis and during the first few weeks, the anxiety (and depression) was debilitating, and to be honest, some days (weeks, months) it still is. It’s a continuous struggle through every waking moment of every single day, but since then, I’ve made a conscious effort to turn my Anxiety into High Functioning Anxiety. What does that mean? Simply, I’ve tried to make my anxiety work FOR me, instead of hindering me; I’ve used it to my advantage. That means, that I’ve tried to take all the nit-pickiness that results from the anxiety and fearing the worst things and overthinking and being overly critical of myself, and used it to be productive and a perfectionist, basically to GET SH*T DONE!

Now the reason I’m telling you this, as I said is for some background information to tell you about the events that led to last Monday. You see, the Tuesday before, a friend reached out to me; we had a chat about various things, and the fact that I was unemployed came up. She expressed that had she known I wasn’t employed she would’ve considered me for a recently filled position. Well, this friend still went ahead and made suggestions about ventures I could undertake and endeavors I could put my talents and skill-set towards. I politely listened and agreed, and though at least one venture stuck, I shrugged them off. All was well…until the next day!

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You see, she messaged me bright and early to send my resume in, and that’s where the panic began. I did what I was told to do, but not without that gut-feeling of impending doom taking over. I eventually calmed down, until later that evening when she asked if I could make it to an interview THE NEXT DAY. The idea of what she was proposing brought my anxiety out and rendered me useless for the rest of that night. All I could do was sit and freak out, FOR NO APPARENT REASON. In actuality, I couldn’t make it to the interview the next day as I had my paternal grandmother’s funeral to attend, so of course, the interview was postponed until the next day, Friday.

You know what’s harder on the emotions than burying the dead? Burying the dead, who have no future, while worrying about your own! That’s a real hoot and exactly what I did! I spent the funeral in a panic, masked by utter irreverence and  VERY inappropriate humor to cope. What do I mean? Get this, my brother was sat in the pew next to me, right? He had the car keys, so my mom indicated to him to come out of the church and close the car. He stood to do so and tripped while exiting the bench, and the smart remark that automatically flew out of my mouth was “Don’t Die!”. True story, folks! I joked about death at a funeral!

Anyway, fast forward to Friday morning, the day of my interview, and I was a mess. Have you ever been so spazzed out, you’re calm? Yup, that was me! I was all nerves, deep breaths, and a completely even tone of voice on the outside, but the sirens were blaring on the inside. I managed to put myself together, skip breakfast (the nausea was extreme) and get out the door. My mom “helped” all morning, so I couldn’t catch a moment of peace to mentally prepare myself, and my dad…smh…my dad was himself. I spent the drive with my dad, trying to pace myself. Everything was fine. We didn’t meet much traffic on the roads and had even driven up to the place the night before to be sure of the venue. Then, at 10:55AM, five minutes to my interview time, waiting to turn into the location, some idiot rear-ended us. That’s right guys, your favorite walking ball of nerves had to go into an interview and kill it, right after that, with no time to “compose herself” (like that would’ve been possible anyway! And you know what? I did! With an instant headache and light-headedness, minor whiplash and and prickles in the entire left side of my body, shaking hands and a racing mind, I took a breath and took the plunge!

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Well, somehow (by the grace of God), I was able to have a good interview, and I got the job! *pops collar* It wasn’t easy and my anxiety absolutely drained me, but learning to work through it paid off! So when this post hits the blog, I’ll be about halfway through, the first day of my second week on the job! And guess what? I might completely bomb it, or it could be absolute success; the important thing is that with all the anxiety I felt, I still went for it with the reminder to just breathe.41ff90dac3bee8ffe8642a3fd2742197We all have fears and worries, some of us have anxiety, but what’s important is working through it and making it work in our favor. So go out there this week and slay! And when things get a tad bit overwhelming, remember: Just. Breathe.

xoxo, from where my 7 dreams grow,

~Rynzi

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