This is a topic I had hoped to never really have to write about. I have always considered myself pretty decent at handling my anxious moments and staying "level-headed" in stressful situations.
Turns out, I am not anymore, and am not sure I ever was.
I don’t know how many people really know this about me, because I feel I cover decently enough, but I get nervous pretty easily. I can count the ways, but I won’t.
But ya know what? In the past I think I have covered and after initial anxiety, I settle in. At least I have when performing or speaking in public. I have never just said "Hey guys…let me have a moment, I am really anxious/nervous/worked up." I have always tried to hide my trembling hands and breath. And I think that may have hurt me in the long run.
In the last few years, however, I find I don’t perform, or speak or really do that much that pushes that boundary. I put myself in familiar or friendly places where I can just put on the act of being Ernie. And don’t get me wrong, I am an extrovert. I love being around people, but I also don’t love letting people that are on the fringe of my comfort zone get a peek into my head. I don’t really go out as often as I did at other times in my life. I go out, but its with small groups or by myself or just my wife and I.
I want to control my interactions.
Work has always caused me stress and anxiety for one large reason. I care about being good at my job. I really do. So I get anxious about finishing things. I get anxious about the things at work that I cannot control.
I want to control my work.
Social networks have long been a safe place for people like me. I call it "keyboard balls". The ability to say something and not have a person in your face responding is wonderful. But what it does not offer is how they react anyway, with their keyboard balls, and how I accept those reactions. Anxiety occurs.
I want to control my conversations.
If you’re seeing a pattern here, you’re a smart person. 🙂
I want control.
Like most people I want to control how I perceive and how I am perceived. I want to seem smart, well read, good at my work and in control of myself and my emotions. So what happens when I am not?
Depression. Anxiety. Loss of function.
Welcome to the Summer of 2017 for Ernie.
A parade of things that are both amazing and horrible came at me since about June. I was promoted at work and am now the manager of the team I have worked on for around 8-10 years give or take. I am/was lead developer on 2 high profile projects that required long hours and stressful deadlines. My cat was hospitalized. Not just one of my cats…MY cat. Dobby had what was thought to be a tumor removed and spent 5 days at the vet recovering before we could bring him home. The world is a continual crap bag of crap politically and every side finds something new to yell about online every day. Everyone of these things, either by necessity or my own doing, were things I was immersed in.
I stopped hanging out with people as much. When I do, I am extra-Ernie to guard my feelings. I stopped leaving the house as much. I stopped working out (spotty at best). I have stopped playing disc golf every week, sometimes 2-3 times a week. I have felt denied and ignored by friends. But most of all…
I have been sad. I have been depressed and angry and hurt and on and on. I have been the saddest I have ever been in my life in the last 2 months.
I know God is there. I know my friends are there. I know I can talk to most of the people I consider a friend about anything. I know that my wife loves me more today than ever before. I know, I know, I know.
None of that has mattered in the way it should or could.
What I have done, that I think will help me come out of it is accept that even me, "friendly, jovial, happy, but sometimes grumpy because beetus, Ernie", can be sad and my friends can know about it and I will be okay and so will they.
I have some great friends and the fact that I have to go to a 2nd hand to count them is amazing at this stage in life. I have an amazing wife. I have 4 cats, and Dobby is the best of the lot, and he is cancer free and recuperating in my floor while I type this. I have a great job that I love to do. I have so much to make me glad.
I will leave this with an Irish Proverb:
Always remember to forget the things that made you sad.
But never forget to remember the things that made you glad.