Crowds make me anxious

Tomorrow, I am taking the Northeast Regional train down to Philadelphia, to go to the Wizardworld Con with a dear friend of mine who is flying all the way in from England. It means spending 6-7 hours on a train, finding my hotel, checking in and then having probably 4-5 hours to spend in Center City Philadelphia. And I am calm about it. Actually, I’m looking forward to it. While part of the train ride will certainly be boring, I am looking forward to a significant amount of time where I can do whatever I want-finish up that fanfic piece I promised for last month (oops), re-watch the second movie of HP & the Deathly Hallows or another movie I own on my computer. Read one of the many books I have out from the library. While the time away on the internet. Take a nap. Wander around Center City Philadelphia.

But Sunday, when my friend and I will be attending the convention, I am already nervous. I have to share my time and space with my dear friend and now I’ll be anxious about making sure we get wherever we need to go in time. After all, we have the Chris’s to ogle. When I have to adhere to other people’s schedules, anxiety worms its way into my life.

I know why this is and it still happens. It’s about control. I almost said power there, but that’s definitely not it (although those two are often paired together for good reason). It’s about managing expectations and controlling expectations. It’s worrying that by the actions of someone else I won’t get where we need to. (Or that by my actions it won’t happen). There are twice as many ways to fail when you add two people together.

I know how irrational I’m being and how much of a control freak I can be and yet this knowledge? Does nothing in the face of these behaviors. I have to breathe through and remind myself that I can accept this as it is right now. That no matter what, life will not end (hello, catastrophic thinking, you’re not my friend), I will still have a good time. And, in all honesty, things will probably work out pretty well no matter what. We’re not facing huge stakes here, just us, hundreds or thousands of other people and some famous people. Sight seeing of the crowds, looking at booths and lots of geeky pop culture. I’m looking forward to spending time with my dear friend and I’m looking forward to being in the same room (ish) as the Chris’s. I know that I can manage my travel anxiety and schedule anxiety but it would help a whole lot if I were able to head it off before or as it began rather than struggling through the mud in the middle. But I’m not there yet. So for now, I’ll use the coping mechanisms my therapist has given me for anxiety and keep working on it.

What does recovery look like today?

Today, recovery looks like a step back. It looks like I’m doing all the right things and still feeling like a failure because I ate a little too much and I’m now a little uncomfortable. I went to the gym. I went to work. I ate vegetables and grains and protein. But then I had something sweet. I had a little extra. I realized there was a hole in the center of my chest, just below my heart and I wanted to fill it, needed to fill it. I don’t know how to fill it except for food. So I ate some more food. And then when I went to bed, I felt bad. Actually, I felt bad the entire time, but I couldn’t stop it. But the difference between a few years ago and now? Now, the binging behavior is much milder and when I wake up the next day, I don’t try nearly as hard to ‘compensate’ for the binge nor do I feel as much guilt.

I acknowledge that I used a skill that I had to cope with the gnawing emptiness, even if it wasn’t healthy. I remind myself that I’m great and keep going with my day, eating what feels good, as close to a ‘healthy balanced diet’ as possible (while also including treats, because I love food of all kinds). I remind myself that recovery isn’t linear, it’s more like the stock market when it’s not crashing. It has some ups and downs but it generally goes up for a while. At least, I hope it’s not like the stock market and doesn’t crash. I’d like to avoid crashing back down.

Some days, I’m more depressed than others. Some seasons I’m more depressed than others. If it’s not winter, it’s a crap shoot on which days I’ll be down. Unless I’ve been overstimulated and over busy recently. Then I can predict an emotional crash that could trigger emotional eating. Other times, it’s more subtle. I think I’m doing ok and then I’m eating and I can’t stop and I don’t know why. Sometimes I figure it out and solve the problem. Sometimes I eat to fill the hole and too bad for me, I don’t know what the issue is to resolve.

If you have struggles with mental health, there are going to be dips. Recovery and living with mental illness guarantees it. Just remember though, that you’re not down forever but just for right now. Like the stock market, you’ll swing back up eventually.IMG_20150802_060757997