What Are You Afraid Of?
When I was a kid, I was absolutely terrified of the dark.
I would spend most nights sleeping with every single light on in my room, even keeping the closet light on if the door was closed. I didn’t want to know there was darkness in the room, even if it was hidden. This fear of the dark carried well into adolescence, teenage years, and even into adulthood. (It doesn’t help that I’m a little night blind, but.) I will still get too scared to take my dog on a walk sometimes when it’s too dark.
Over the past month, I’ve been forced to face that fact that anxiety has played a much larger role in my life than I’ve ever admitted. I’ve been readjusting my medications, upping my therapy sessions, working on meditation, but the biggest thing has simply been facing my anxiety head on.
I have spent most of my life treating anxiety like the monkey forever on my back as I struggled to walk upright from the burden. When I started dealing with my mental health two years ago, it then became the pet I kept on a leash, occasionally walking me instead of me walking it. But this past few weeks, I’ve decided it’s time to actually look my anxiety in the face.
Anxiety has held me back from pursuing passions. Anxiety has ruined relationships, both romantic and platonic. Anxiety has robbed me of simple joys. But I’ve never stood up and said ENOUGH. For a couple years now, I’ve treated my anxious tendencies as a side effect of depression, but it’s the other way around:
Depression is a side effect of my anxiety.
My overthinking of what ifs, fear of social situations, paralyzing uncertainty, crippling self doubt. These led to that sinking hole of depression. I’ve been afraid of everything and everyone, which led me to hide under those dark clouds. My fear of the dark still exists. It’s the fear of the unknown driven by anxiety.
I’m only a month into dealing with my anxiety like this. I don’t have all the answers, and I never will. But one thing that I can say is changing my life? Literally facing my problems head on. Avoidance is pretty much always a bad thing, and avoiding obvious things like work responsibilities, homework, etc. is clear. However, we so easily avoid dealing with the feelings, habit loops, and problems literally digging their claws into our backs stopping us from standing upright.
These are what you have to face.
As my best friend constantly reminds me, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. So why do we put up with horrible things over and over again that we have the power change? Fear. Fear of the unknown and what lies beyond the edges of the light. What if nothing changes? What if it doesn’t work? Okay, but what if it does? What are you missing out on simply because you won’t stand up?
I’m still afraid of the dark. I probably always will be. But I’m starting to realize that I’ll never know what monsters lurk in the dark if I never shine any light on them, so I might as well turn the flashlight on.