You don't need to feel anxious about this.
Calm down. It's not that big a deal. Don't be so sensitive.
I am a healthy, happy person.
I have a quick smile and a loud laugh that erupts more often than trips out of my mouth. I dance in my kitchen and moonwalk my way out of my socks at night. I can make it through my day to day with no true fear that (barring some horror) I won't make it, even on my worst days. And I'm pretty good at laughing things off - like those fun statements above that helpful and loving people use when I look at them with that expression. You know, the one that's stuck somewhere between panic and despair, with a little bit of "This is what drowning feels like" thrown in.
At least, that's where the feeling sits, so I assume that's where the expression lies.
It's a bizarrely colored feeling, too. Have I told you that I see colors? I mean - yes, I can see the world in technicolor - but emotions and feelings, concepts and ideas...they're colorful in my mind. Although, they're not exactly in my mind, in my mind. They take up space outside my head, sometimes running to hide behind me so that I can't deal with them. The hiders, to be honest, are usually the negative things - fear, anger, anxiety, or - the most frustrating - a character who isn't letting me see her clearly just yet. These are the things I have to coax to the forefront of my mind, and often when I see them they are a sickly yellow, or maybe a CAUTION!! orange.
|Somehow this looks cute? How is that possible?|
Google tells me this is synesthesia, a brain dysfunction (or whatever) in which sensory paths cross and mingle or tangle. The outcome is that our senses manifest in abnormal ways. The most common form of this is having colors attached to letters and numbers, or seeing sound.
(The brain is a bizarre and beautiful thing, isn't it?)
It took me just under 30 years to realize that other people don't see the world in this way, that other writers don't first discover their stories as colors. My therapist was fascinated by it, but since it never seemed to negatively impact my life there was no real need to explore it or have it officially diagnosed. My current functional medicine practitioner encourages me to embrace it. You are a vibrant color girl! That's who you are!
It's just the way I see the world.
My anxiety is electric blue - and when I say electric, I do mean electric...it jolts and zaps when you don't tread carefully. It can be frightening, but there is a strange sort of luminescent beauty to the fear. More often than not it's only charged to the level of static cling. But sometimes it reaches levels of Jurassic Park Electric Fence Danger. (I've talked about that before...check it out.)
|This scene terrified me as a kid.|
Sometimes, though, these colors go dark. It's not quite like someone turned out the light as much as it is that they poured horrible, sticky, inky tar over my brain. The brightest pink turns sour, rancid even, and I feel like I'll either explode or suffocate. Feelings have always been waves to me: they begin at my feet, and when they reach my chest is when they're most intense - often why it takes me a loooooooong time to feel and react to things - and when they are inky they threaten to drown me. My mom reminds me that as intense as they are, my feelings can't actually kill me, and so I do the things I've learned to help the tar go away - or at least to help the wave recede.
I am grateful that, though I have grappled with that Darkness, I have never felt abandoned in it. I have heard from those who have been left, untied, with no light, in that dark and scary place. And their stories frighten me. People with depression actually believe others will be better off without them alive. It's like walking through pitch black with no light and no idea of where safety is, or if there even is safety.
When the Darkness comes calling it can be disguised as many things: anger, fear, pushing people away when we need them the most. Because when the Darkness comes calling it isn't simply about turning on the light switch again. (No shade, Dumbledore...turning on the light can help.) No, it is about somehow extracting yourself from the tar, and it feels like all you have is a Q-Tip.
I am grateful my mental health has never pulled me that deeply into the tar. That Darkness looms, and dampens my colors sometimes, but ultimately I am alright. That's not the case for others. (If it's not the case for you, don't listen to the voice that tells you everyone else is better off without you. We aren't. We need you. Call 1-800-273-8255...they may have something better than a Q-Tip for helping you escape the tar. At the very least, they can Q-Tip with you.)
I guess I'm asking you to take a moment and remember that even the healthiest among us suffer. Even those who "have it all" struggle. The loudest laughers may actually be mired in an inky bog. This is not lack of courage. It is not lack of love.
It's just the brain, doing it's bizarre and beautiful - sometimes horrible - thing.