It’s been another hiatus since my last post. I didn’t realize how long it had been until I called my grandmother the other day. She asked why I hadn’t blogged in a while. Honestly, I just haven’t had that much to say. And what I wanted to say, I wasn’t sure how to word. I notice a lot of my inspiration has come from struggle and hardships and sadness. While those are all excellent talking points, I don’t feel like this is the space to write in extreme detail all of the wonderful things that have happened because this is a BLOG, not a BRAG. That’s not to say that the past few weeks haven’t posed their own struggles, but they just weren’t really what I was used to typing about. I am semi-professional at writing about long distance, break ups, come backs, to name a few.
I was recently diagnosed with GAD (general anxiety disorder) and panic disorder. When I heard those words come out of the doctors mouth I was shocked. I haven’t had any especialy pivotal moments in my life where everything changes. I have been incredibly blessed from day one. My parents are happily married, and I have great relationships with my family and friends alike. I have three jobs, attend a great school, and am in one of the strongest sisterhoods in the nation. So what the hell could this quack possibly mean? Isn’t this sort of stuff for really unfortunate people who have experienced far more traumatic things than myself? What could I possibly have to be stressed about? Of course while analyzing myself and trying to figure this all out, I knew the doctor wasn’t wrong. I had been struggling since my freshman year, but had always brushed it off and told myself it was just a phase. Three years later, I realized that it wasn’t a phase, and I needed to do something. When it started getting in the way of my social life, work, and school, that was kind of the turning point for me. I walked into that office with my norts and oversized sorority shirt and looked around. Some of these kids looked like they needed help. What was I doing here? There’s nothing wrong with me. There couldn’t be.
Turns out, there was. Not that anxiety is the absolute worst thing to be diagnosed with, but it certainly isn’t the best. What’s nice about going to the doctor and being told that you have strep throat is that you’re prescribed some antibiotics and lots of rest, and a few days later, the illness subsides. With anxiety, there is no magic pill. There is no miracle treatment. It is mentally exhausting, as well as physically. It’s a constant game with yourself, of trying to turn off your brain. I regret taking for granted the days where my thoughts weren’t completely consumed with things. Some things require thought, and others are completely irrelevant. I’ll start thinking about one thing, and it’ll ripple effect and before I know it, an hour has passed and I am worried about 187 things where only 93 of them realllllllly matter.
So I sat on the doctors’ diagnosis. I went home, and felt like a defect. Like I said, no real traumatic experiences have occurred in my life thus far, and I am super grateful for that. So the thought of telling ANYONE that I had anxiety was almost too much because why would I? It was embarrassing at first. My family is like.. really normal. Because of that, I saw this diagnosis as the end of the world, like a blemish on the family portrait.
So I didn’t tell my parents for a few weeks. After seeking counseling and seeing a doctor regularly, and once I got more of a handle on the diagnosis, I decided I would call my dad.
My dad is literally my best friend. I am not joking when I say that I call him at least once a day. Sometimes I have to call him because I have a question about my car, or what a good future career would be, or what I should invest my 401K in, or because I ran out of money, or or or or or…. everything and everything. And no matter how insignificant my phone calls are, he always answers with the same “Hey Ab!” that makes me feel immensely better. So calling him to tell him that his oldest daughter was suffering something she couldn’t talk her way out of was bound to be a doozy.
We talked for over an hour. We hashed out every detail of why I was stressed and what would consume my thoughts most and why they made me feel so out of control. After we got off the phone, he sent me this, as a recap that I could conveniently screenshot and tell the world about:
“Abby, I get it. A couple of things I can offer from experience: Your future is fine but you can’t expect great things immediately. They will come because you have an excellent work ethic and you are smart. That is something you shouldn’t have to worry about as long as you understand that there is no stress if you are not company president by the time you’re 25. You have a great education, a new car, a full wardrobe, and tons of things most kids don’t start out with. But you need to take stock of what you have and be happy with that. Don’t always look for what else you can get. That helps with the money part, because for the most part you shouldn’t have to buy anything at all besides the essentials like groceries and fun. I think that this is so important that this is something you have struggled with. Not because I like to see you struggle by any means, it is the hardest thing to watch as a parent. Remember that you are more than whatever inner demons you face, or your exam grades, or your jeans that are “so last season”. I have learned this myself recently because sometimes you have so much going on that it takes away from your enjoyment of life. You get overwhelmed. So, you seek out new things. And now I’m more strict in that because I just don’t have the time for all of this stuff, and now realize I was spending all my time trying for things I wouldn’t have time for anyway. Never worry about looking stupid in public, because I’m pretty sure everyone feels that way one time or another. I can relate to that. Those damn graduation speeches would consume me for weeks because I knew I lived in Ware and people expected things from me. My speeches had to be perfect or I thought people would talk about me and what a disappointment I was. Boy did that suck. But this isn’t about me. It’s about you, and how you’re going to live with this.”
Is it me or do dad’s always know just what to say? I can’t really ever say he was wrong (even though sometimes it would be much easier than admitting he was right).
One of my biggest worries right now is financial security. For the last 20 or so years, I have been lucky enough to live (mostly) on my parent’s dime. They have taken care of me, clothed me, fed me, paid for my education, living expenses, among other things like the random Lilly Pulitzer dresses I just couldn’t leave the store without. I’ve been extremely lucky to have parents who make sure that I never have to go without. However, with my impending graduation (gag) I know that this is on it’s way out. Lets face it, without them, I have Moet Chandon taste on a PBR budget. That doesn’t play. So while I worry about “holy shit I can’t keep this lifestyle up post grad”, I forget how damn good I have it. I will graduate with no student loan debt, no car payments, just the expectation that I get into a good grad school program and work on moving up the corporate ladder. Yeah, I’ll have to learn how to budget (because right now I have no damn idea how to), pay attention to my 401K, and not buy so much unneccesary shit (ie clothes). I think all college kids should mentally prepare for the struggle. Some are living it now, and some might be unfortunate enough to always live on daddy’s dime. And yeah, it’ll be the struggle for a little, but here’s hoping that degree you paid so much for pays off and gets you a decent paying job sooner than later.