Part One : The Storm is Brewing

I have chosen to write my anxiety story in 3 parts because I would like to break it down. All 3 parts are equally important and equally heavy. Here is my “before”.

My storm that was brewing.

I believe my anxiety started when my dad passed away. He suffered a lot and I was there. I will just say it was life changing for me. I didn’t see the world in the same bubble-wrapped, light shining way. There was dark. There was pain. There was the unfailing reality of life.

I grew up.

To be honest, I drank every night for 2 weeks so I could sleep. I don’t regret it. I cried. I talked. I grieved.

You know that calm before a storm? It’s humid and quiet. You can feel everything around you wait. Holding their breath, everything waits. You know something is coming but you do not know what. Standing outside with your hands on your hips and you listen. I am here in this story. The intense calm.

After my dad dying I started worrying about cancer. It wasn’t all-consuming but I noticed moles and kept an eye on them. Any pain I felt I thought it could be cancer. I went on like this for years without knowing about anxiety and I faild to connect my worry with my dad dying.

So far I didn’t have a problem. Going through my grief was extremely difficult so I figured maybe I could prevent feeling that way again.

I imagined a wall.

A strong, indestructible brick wall.

It was orange but that doesn’t matter.

We foster and when we had our little ones leave after 8 months I pictured this wall. I was on one side and my pain, my grief was on the other. I didn’t feel and I thought I was brilliant.

Wind starts to rustle the leaves. The windchimes pick up and it starts to darken. I am standing watching the sky. I see clouds looming, ready. The birds remain silent.

I had an early miscarriage.

I saw the wall.

A lightning strike.

Aunts and uncles passed away.

Another strike.

When I was 4 months pregnant my husband came to me at night while I was sleeping. He told me that my friend was killed and her husband did it. This was the invisible straw. My friend and I had conversations about this possibility. I called the police and gave a statement. My teeth started chattering from adrenaline and my while body shook. My body was already off from being pregnant and then Wham!

I looked for the wall.

Where was the wall?

I cried. I shook. I cried. I stared in shock.

It took me a bit but I found my wall. It had missing bricks but it was there.

I went to her funeral and did not cry.

Clouds are swirling, chasing each other. I am starting to run. Fear is building with the storm. The air crackles with electricity in wait for the inevitable. I run. I run with everything I have because it is starting. I am running for me. I am running for my children. I am running and tripping and reaching for my house. The storm is faster. Stronger.

During this pregnancy the bricks started to fall. I tried to gather them, scrape at them so I could feel normal. Piling them with wet concrete, broken nails. They slid and so did I. I slid. Fast.

All of the hurt. All of the pain I tossed aside needed out. Needed to be released. It wasn’t a slow release. It was a fast release like a pressure cooker.

All of the bricks fell. I fell. Hard.

This was my build. My slow, simmering build. I couldn’t see it but it was rising and I wasn’t ready. I was not ready. Anxiety chooses the time and this was it.

Dear God, this was it.

The storm overtakes me.

I am sure you are reading this and seeing the perfect ingredients for a storm but I wasn’t aware what anxiety was and what was happening. I wish I knew. I wish someone told me about their own struggles with anxiety.

That is my purpose.

Speak up and speak out.

It can save someone’s life. Maybe even your own.

Until next time,

With love,

Neely

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