I had an anxiety attack last night. A big, long anxiety attack that arrived the moment I thought someone was upset with me, and stayed long after they apologized, everything was talked over, and it was all resolved. It’s still hanging on a bit this morning, actually, like a sloth that’s latched its claws around my shoulders and is only now making its way, ever so slowly, back down. The only difference is that I would absolutely love to have a real sloth around my shoulders.
One of the most terrifying moments in the world (okay, exaggeration) is when you run out of tissues, but you’re still crying uncontrollably. Thus was the case last night. As the box grew closer and closer to empty, with each tissue I told myself, “No more tears. One more tissue, be sad and get it out, and then no more tears.” But my tears ignored me. They ignored me for hours, and they went on ignoring me all the way into this morning.
I have always been quick to panic or cry, most often both, in certain situations. But a few months ago, calming myself back down was amongst my semi-mastered set of skills. Last night it was not, and it left me severely disappointed and scared. Did I somehow just lose over a year of work with my therapist? How hard would it be to get it back? These were not questions my panicked brain felt equipped to handle, but it would be a week until I saw my therapist again, and so it worked to try and at least patch a band-aid on until I saw her.
Healing is not linear. I know that. But, man, some of the drops hurt. You don’t just roll down a nice, soft hill of daisies, brush yourself off, and then start walking back up. Sometimes you walk straight off a cliff you didn’t know was there and fall on your face. I knew there would be drops, but no one said that the drops would be like running around a canyon trying to find a way back out, while also trying to fix the broken nose you got when you landed here.
Right now I’m still in that canyon. I haven’t found a way back up. But I also know that a canyon is not the worst place to be stuck in. I know that, eventually, I’ll find some rocks that look climbable, or I’ll bump into an actual rock climber who can shout out directions to me as I clamber up, or someone will throw me a rope. I know that there are lots of ways out, and I know that just because I can’t see them now doesn’t mean that I never will.
I know that one day, I will be the rock climber, or the one standing at the top of the canyon casting a rope down for someone else. I will know this canyon inside out, from the steepest drop off, to the one spot you could climb up even if you’d broken your leg on the way down.
And I will never leave this canyon. Because once I’m out, I will always come back to make sure you are, too.
Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash