Monday, April 4, 2011

Take THAT, Anxiety!

That's right - I am an anxious person. There, I've said it, it's out there and I can't get it back. Not that I want to. I have learned that I am better off just admitting that I experience anxiety. Hiding it just makes it worse.

I have spent a lot of time working on this particular aspect of my personality. Sometimes I think I should be a lot farther along than I am, and then I remember that I could be stuck in my house and too afraid to leave. That is sooooo not an option, even though it seemed like a good one for awhile. At times, it still does.

Every couple of years I do something that completely challenges my anxiety and throws me for an utter looper. It makes my anxiety shoot through the roof and feels horrid while I'm doing it. My goal: to get out on the other side, still alive, proud that I didn't let my anxiety stop me.

A couple of years ago my big challenge was a two month long improve comedy class at Comedy Sportz. This was done after a therapist asked me to come up with two of the scariest scenarios I could think of. I came up with sky diving and improve comedy.  Then she told me to pick one and do it. I picked the improve comedy because I really do think falling out of a plane might give me a heart attack. Peeing my pants on stage, while embarrassing, wouldn't kill me.  I made it through the class without any serious melt downs (there were some serious headaches), didn't die and was really proud of myself. 

I should note that we built up to this activity. I literally had to start with simple tasks. Like the time my home work was to make 2 phone calls before my next session. Sounds simple  - for those with out anxiety - it isn't always easy for me.

This past December I challenged my anxiety again. I decided to try a new kind of interpreting: video relay. I had successfully avoided VRS interpreting for years. Dedicated to my decision, I let everyone know that there was no way in HELL, I would EVER do VRS. Ever. Did I say ever?  Why you might ask? I tried to convince myself that I just wasn't interested. It wasn't my thing. Blah blah blah.  A smidge true, yes. But mostly:  I was freaked the heck out!  Due to FCC rules, I had no mental image of the environment due to never seeing the environment/call center(ya, that doesn't help the girl who wants to know what everything is like before she goes/does it.). Oh, and I heard all sorts of horror stories. Again: not helping.

So, last December a couple of friends told me they were going to do the training and hey, wouldn't it be cool if I joined the group? Crap. Double crap. TRIPLE crap. I decided to check it out, and promptly regretting making that decision. Long story short: I didn't pull the plug on my decision. I didn't want to be a quitter and I have to say through the years, the feeling of "I am not a quitter" has kept me going when my anxiety wanted me curled up in the fetal position crying. 

Of course getting through the training was one of the most stressful things I have ever done. I know the others in the group knew that I was freaked, but there is no way they knew the extent of my anxiety. They had no idea when I was light headed, sick to my stomach, dizzy, experiencing an anxiety head ache. They didn't know that I could barely sleep the week of the training. Or the amount of deep breathing I was doing. OK, they did have an idea with I was close to tears - can't really hide that. But, they encouraged me and had my back. I almost emailed them and explained why I was acting a bit odd, but never did.

I feel good that I made it through. If I hadn't I wouldn't be having the fun I am having now. I wouldn't be working with some really great people. Best of all, I don't have the regret of not doing it. Taking on this challenge ended up being a great decision. New people, new skills, and a new notch on my "screw you, anxiety" belt.

Anxiety is still a part of my life every day. That is just a fact. But, I try to not let it stop me. The therapist who helped me with my anxiety asked me one session, "What do you do to combat your anxiety?"  My response: "I get up and go to work. I keep interpreting. I book jobs even though almost every time I do - I have an immediate impulse to cancel. I didn't quit the interpreting program back when I was in school and my anxiety was through the roof along with a digestive disorder that was made worse by the anxiety. I take jobs that challenge me. I stand in front of people and do my job. That's how I deal with my anxiety." It's true.

So, I have a couple of years to ponder what my next anxiety challenge will be. Hhhmmmm........I have no idea at this point. But, I'm sure I will figure it out. In the mean time, I will continue to feel anxious. I will continue to fight it. I will continue.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Me? Slacker? Maybe Not.

Ok, so I started out the Lenton season with high hopes of giving something up.  I was going to give up Facebook and then a friend of mine texted me with a plea: "Please don't give up Facebook for Lent. I need you in my virtual life."  Well, crap.  Ok, since this is one of the very few people I have known since first grade, and she lives out of town and we don't get to chat, I decided to find something else to give up.

The point of Lent is to focus on your faith. Taking time to sacrifice in order to better understand your relationship with God.  So, while I have yet to figure out what I am giving up - I have taken time to ponder.

Candy? Sugar? Eating out? I feel like I have done these things before and I don't actually learn much from them.  So, I kept thinking and thinking and thinking.

I have yet to come up with anything.

But perhaps I am not a slacker after all.  This season I have been more aware of spiritual issues. Without going into too much detail, I will tell that that I was raised in a church, still feel connected to that church but also have serious SERIOUS issues with my home denomination and with most churches in general.

Over the years I have come to learn that many people I know who are strongly into their faith are also some of the most close minded, judgemental people I know. I find that very sad, as I don't equate religion/God with hate but with love.

Anyway - I wrestle with religion daily.  I believe, yet I believe in my own way. I did catch a lot of flack from "friends" about giving something up for Lent. Some friends I can joke about with this and others I know are not really joking but like to lump people who believe (whether it be a little or a lot) in with the morons of the world. Now, that's not really fair either. I don't judge you for not believing anything. Really I don't care what other people do or do not believe. Oh, and I am not a moron.

Recently a book has come out from a well known pastor. The premise of the book is basically the discussion that perhaps we all end up in heaven. Really, this is controversial? He asks in the book, "Is Gandhi in heaven?"  I'm amazed at how many people, who call themselves Christians, answered no to that question. "Well certainly he isn't, he wasn't Christian."  Oy, people, get a grip. I plan to read this book, but at this point I am hold #57 out of 80 hold at the library, so it will be awhile. I don't typically read this type of book, but this one is calling to me.

So, maybe I am not a slacker. Who knew?

Oh, and the photo? It is beautiful metal work above the doorway into a Catholic cathedral in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.