Before heading into this post, I want to express my gratitude to Geoff Schackmann who got this blog set up for me and has now done the work to turn it into a newsletter. If you would like to be notified when I post updates, hit “subscribe.” My heart is mushy thankful for those who read. I feel your love.
Sending my love to all,
When attempting to write a blog post for the last week, anxiety and self-doubt blocked any topic I addressed. Shaking, thought streams were clogged and dammed (damned, truthfully) by the anxiety and self-doubts, so I hung my head and closed the computer, day after day.
When I received my wheelchair in April of 2017, I asked for home physical therapy and occupational therapy. A few visits in, the OT left a list of things to keep in mind, which included ways MS presented fatigue. Among the descriptions of how fatigue shows: sadness and anxiety or panic.
Check and check. Almost daily.
Also, since 2017, I’ve been artificially awake with the help of amphetamines. Even then, amphetamines don’t completely cut the fatigue. Still, I am very grateful for being given a boost so I’m better able to engage with the world. I’ve just now realized how I forget my sadness and anxiety wait just underneath.
How do I make friends with all that? I know it’s possible because from my opening paragraph, to the story of my occupational therapist in the next paragraph, I felt a wash of relief. My anxiety and sadness are not of my making and do not reflect on the type of person I am.
Yes, anxiety has lived in me most of my life, and even that is not a character assessment. Self-doubt is a mental construct that I used as an answer to human emotions that I did not like.
When I was a pre-teen camp junior counselor, around age 13, there was a boy wreaking havoc every minute of the day. He was wild and feral-like, refusing to sit still except long enough to cram food in his mouth at mealtime. And he was screaming disruptively if he wasn’t moving.
As the first afternoon was heading into evening, a main counselor approached me to ask if I would be his, “guardian,” for the duration of the camp or until he was willing to calm down. The pre-teen camp went from Sunday to Friday and his mother was long gone.
I clenched my teeth with the frustration of my week being hijacked as I smiled and said yes. I wish I knew where he is today so I could get permission to use his name. Instead, I’ll call him Wild Boy.
Wild Boy was brought to me kicking and screaming, as though he was being taken to a torture chamber. “Yeah buddy, that’s how I feel, too,” I thought. I took his hand and held it pinned to my side with all the tender strength I could muster. Otherwise, he would have taken both of us to the ground. I recommended he get used to it because this was where he would spend his week, pinned to my side.
By Monday afternoon Wild Boy was calming down.
Wild Boy began to calm down, but efforts to work him back into any camp participation reopened his panic gates. Finally, I assured him he did not have to take that leap until he was ready. By Tuesday we were a devoted power team.
That week with Wild Boy was one of the most valuable lessons and treasured memories in that era of my life.
When I befriend my own version of Wild Boy, I now can remember the original Wild boy. This amplifies the value of hanging out with the segments of my life I initially try to exile. When I befriend my inner shrieks of self-doubt because of anxiety or fear, I become a more powerful version of myself.