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.

1 comment:

Jean said...

You, my friend, are a super-star! I'm so glad you keep getting up and keep working through it. I can totally relate - every time (and I do mean EVERY time) I went on a freelance gig, I thought I would either throw up or pass out. I just think of it as stage fright - keeps you alive, keeps you humble, keeps you learning. Rock on, sister!