Learning to [kohp]

by kthaskell

Part of my disbelief upon my acceptance to the program was something that has followed me my whole life.  I am presented with an opportunity and if I happen to receive it, I am floored, thinking don’t they know how absolutely bat shit [crazy] I am, was, am?

I am the proud sufferer  owner of an anxiety disorder, sprinkled delightfully with depression (“highly sensitive persons” unite!).  Nail biting all of childhood. Crying if my parents were even a few minutes late to after school program.  Not sleeping at night. Crying mainly, lots of crying.

Then one day as a sophomore in high school, I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t stop staring at the door, feeling every moment that the air from the room was slowly leaking from the room, eaten up greedily by my peers.  I was going to suffocate, and my teacher happened to close the door at that moment.  That was all I could stand, but it was even harder for me to raise my hand, to feign sick, to call home knowing everyone was at work.

Needless to say, things are as under control as they are going to be.  No matter how debilitated I felt at that time, no matter how bad it got, or gets from time to time (last flair up being the terror that was first semester of this school year), I am so happy with how this has formed my decisions.  I fully expected to transfer out of Wellesley because I couldn’t stand being out of Maine.  I didn’t want to go abroad, for a handful of reasons I could list off, but I know it’s because I was scared.

However, I am proud of myself for constantly testing those limits.  This has resulted (finally) in an ability to adapt to foreign situations in a short amount of time, to not become overwhelmed with my emotions, my love for where I grew up.  Living in Boston for three months and getting thrown into the workforce? I honestly don’t think I could have done it with who I was at 18.

And now this.  I am positive that I will survive this, though it is a challenge not to revert back into paralyzing fear.  I know I can do this.  It is a step in the process of expanding to more travel opportunities.  It has the criteria I [didn’t know I] was looking for: completely free of cost, intensely scheduled, meaningful, and affiliated with a familiar entity (the college). I am so excited.  I am proud of myself, which feels odd of me to say.

That being said, I now know how I can cope when the fear does set in usually.  I’ve been doing a piss poor job of helping myself lately. It certainly doesn’t help that this is what I’ve had to look at for the past week and a half:

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I don’t even mind the rain in general, but this rain is cold and ubiquitous. I silently wish for  the warm summer rain you can run through or sit out in, the kind that makes the comforting smell of soil seep into the air.  It hasn’t gotten much above 50 degrees in this great state.  We’ve moved over semi-permanently to the house my parents built on the land my grandfather gave us when he passed away over 25 years ago.  Beautiful, waterfront, the site of my favorite childhood memories. Lately, the seclusion that I usually cherish has not done me well.  Neither has the Memorial Day marathon of Law and Order SVU.

Where I would usually be outside, I’m stuck in.  It is damp.  I’m not used to my bed yet. The wood stove I love laying by is too hot to run but it’s too cold not to. I’ve gone from watching no television to grotesque screen violence. I’ve felt myself slipping, energy gone even though I’ve been averaging 12 hours a day of sleep.  Paranoid, can’t stop thinking about death (my own, my parents, fearful of opening my window last night). An inability to rationalize.

The thing that I can identify that makes me feel profoundly better? The internet.  And I’m proud of that too. Despite what this horrible dude says about my generation’s dependance on technology, I’ve found that with this access to information, I can quell my anxiety.  It’s a complicated process, no doubt, but having internet access can provide much needed mindless distraction (games, etc.) but also gives me the resources to rationalize in a moment of panic.

The plane will crash on the way over? my mind may tell me.  So I google the types of jets I will be flying on, learn as much as possible about them, their safety ratings. What will I do for four hours in an airport in a state I’ve never been to? I learn as much as possible about EWR and my terminal. It helps someone like me get their bearings.  Then, with that knowledge, I can focus on the whole “Challenges of an Urban Future” thing. Creating comfort, learning to cope.

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