Day 24 | How am I Feeling?
As my date of departure looms just over the horizon, more and more people keep asking how I’m feeling. Are you nervous? Are you excited? Do you feel prepared? I typically respond with not really, yes, and over-prepared, but those are just the socially acceptable answers I crafted for situations such as these.
No one really wants to know the truth. They don’t want to hear about the stress dreams I have been having about leaving my life behind. They don’t care that I might not get to return to Seattle to say goodbye to my closest friends. They don’t want to hear me drone on about how much I am going to miss my family or my dog. They just want to make small talk about the trip because they know I want to talk about it.
If I told everyone who asked how I was really feeling, they would definitely think I was bipolar, hopping from overwhelming joy and excitement to utter fear and dread in the span of seconds. If you don’t suffer from anxiety, you wouldn’t understand. In any given moment, my brain will start battering me with thoughts, most of which are completely unproductive and cause me undue amounts of anguish.
What happens if I can’t find a job?
What if I end up hating it there?
What if I get bitten by a spider/snake/some other scary thing that only lives in Australia?
How am I going to make the most of this experience?
How am I going to ensure I stay focused on the present?
How am I ever going to see everything that I want to see?
What if I decide I want to stay?
What if Ollie or one of my parents gets sick while I am gone?
What if this trip turns out to be a total waste of time and I end up regretting it later?
What if Katy and I can’t stand each other for that long?
Overwhelming, right? You’re telling me. You may be wondering how I am coping with my anxiety. Or you might not care at all, but I am going to tell you anyway. You see, I’m an avoider. When something difficult is happening, I try to avoid dealing with it at all costs. That could be by drinking, binge watching tv, or eating my body weight in flaming hot cheetos. Some days, I do all 3. Are there healthier ways to handle my problems? Absolutely, and I am working on them, but it is a process.
Often anxiety leads to depression, and I have been down that path enough times to know that I would rather not visit again. That is why I am allowing myself to avoid my thoughts some of the time. I haven’t really talked about this part of my life much because mental health has become this taboo topic that everyone seems to tiptoe around. Well, let me be real for a second and tell you that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting around 18% of the population. And those are just the diagnosed cases. So since it’s so common, it should really be a more prevalent topic of conversation. Hey, the weather has been shit this week. How’s your wife doing? Has your anxiety flared into crippling depression lately? Life would be a lot easier for everyone if we would just talk about it.
But to answer the question at hand, how am I feeling, really? Anxious and scared, but excited. Really fucking excited.