While my insights here point to my own personal fight with anxiety, I believe anyone overcoming a sizable obstacle can relate.
At this point I am well beyond the stage where I’m confused about my body’s involuntary reactions to certain situations. The heavy chest, hard-to-breathe, head tingling, inability to concentrate, and tunnel vision feeling is hardly new. I’ve got years under my belt with this; therefore, I have developed coping and avoidance techniques to help me get by. Albeit, not always the healthiest choices. What happens after we finally jump over the obstacles in front of us is unknown to me. The unknown is something I am not very comfortable with.
I have put in a lot of muscle to appear normal and cheerful to the outside world, and it works. Any time I tell someone I suffer from social anxiety they say “Really? I had no idea.” That is a mark in the win category for me – or so I tell myself. My mask continues to conceal my true identity. I’m kind of a superhero (or villain) in that way. I’m not really sure which, or even if they are interchangeable.
There other side to overcoming these obstacles is what I am fighting for. When I overcome it, there will be new expectations that others put on me and I put on myself. I’m not sure what this looks like, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I have lived with this for my entire life, and it has become deeply rooted in me and my personality. I’m not sure what I look like without it. What would replace it? Or perhaps there would just be this empty hole that used to be filled with anxiety, irrational thoughts, and nerves. I have a hard time believing that it will vanish, even if it is slow to dissolve. Something must take its place.
One-day fear will no longer hold me back: I will be able to move forward without questioning things to a pulp and gauging its trigger effect. On the other hand, others will hold me more accountable and some things I don’t enjoy doing won’t be so easily side-stepped. Half of my consciousness says I’m doing this to free myself from the tangles of fear and to open doors I never thought possible. Though the reality is I would also be free to do things I don’t enjoy. I believe that the fear of progress is preventing me from moving forward more quickly. Though I know this is not a race and the finish line is a rather gray area, I can’t help but to think I should be moving faster.
If it’s possible to overcome this hurdle, I’m trying to get a good picture of what the other side looks like. To anyone who has suffered from mental health, an addiction (yes to cigarettes and sugar too, so easily brushed aside by many non-sufferers), or an unhealthy attachment to another person, the other side can be terrifying. Even if in our hearts we know that the other side must be a better and safer place. Even when we spend time and energy to overcome obstacles, fear continues to heckle us from the sideline.